Fraudsters are becoming smarter and taking advantage of new technology, new products or services and major events to create believable stories that will convince you to give them your money or personal details. Chances are you have received a few fraudulent emails, ambiguous phone calls, encountered fake online ads, questionable posts on social networking sites or maybe someone has come knocking at your door? That is why we want to keep you informed and provide you with the steps to educate yourself about fraud awareness. By knowing the latest scams and how to keep your information secure, you can help protect your identity and finances from being compromised.
Here are some easy steps that you can take to protect yourselves from identity theft and fraud:
Go Paperless And Shred Documents
Do you toss any of your bills or statements in the trash? Slow down and take the time to shred documents before throwing them out. You can get a basic shredder, and if you don’t have one, it’s well worth the investment. Another simple thing you can do is go paperless! This is often overlooked but by going paperless you’ll have a lot fewer documents floating around.
Create Strong Passwords
Another thing we’ve all been guilty of one time or another – using passwords that contain our spouse or kid’s name or birthdays. Don’t do it! It can be a pain to remember so many different passwords, especially if they’re randomly generated, but this is one area of extreme importance.
Tip: Make your password a phrase, not just a single word. For example, consider using the phrase, “Happy Birthday 1” instead of a single word. The length, spaces, and number all make your password much more secure.
Keep Personal Information Confidential
Don’t give out personal information over the phone, through email or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact and know who you’re dealing with. Don’t include personal information like credit card details in regular, unencrypted email or enter it on an unencrypted website as your information won’t be secure.
Monitor Your Financial Statements
One of the absolute most important things you can do is monitor your financial statements. This includes looking over bank and credit card statements regularly and getting a copy of your credit report every 3-4 months. Be sure to monitor your accounts every few days, or more frequently during busy shopping seasons. Be sure to contact your bank’s customer service center immediately if you spot anything inaccurate or unauthorized. You can also go sign up for account alerts for your credit card and bank accounts so that you know right away when something isn’t right. If you get a fraud alert from your bank, you can immediately take action.
Check Your Receipts
Make sure your receipts accurately reflect the services you received or the supplies you obtained. Also, ensure that the amount is correct and that the receipt was issued by the supplier that rendered the service. If any information seems inaccurate, don’t hesitate to mention it to your supplier. You should also keep your original receipts, or a copy of them, for a 12-month period following the claim date.
Beware of Any Requests for Your Details or Money
Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offense.
Talk to Your Loved Ones About Fraud
Scammers will target anyone regardless of their age or social status, and even well-educated people have been caught. However, experts warn that some groups like seniors, children, and teens are generally more vulnerable to certain kinds of fraud. The solution? Talk to your family members and friends about fraud and how to avoid it. You may also want to come up with strategies that everyone in your household can follow