There are multiple types of fraud - phishing, check fraud, identity theft, smishing, pharming, e-mail scams, mail scams, and even spoofing phone numbers. As the different types of fraud evolve, we need to know how to protect ourselves. Here are a few general tips on what you can do to prevent Identity Theft and Fraud:
Balance your check book and credit card statements It is a good habit to balance your check book and credit cards as soon as you receive them. If you find any discrepancies, contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately. Some financial institutions and credit card companies require you to report discrepancies in a timely fashion or they may not be able to help you recover from losses.
Keep your check book, cards, and personal information in a safe place Just as you wouldn’t leave your wallet or purse in a public area, don’t leave your check books or credit/debit cards in an open area in your home. Use a personal shredder to dispose of personal information. Shred checking and credit card statements, cancelled checks, pre-approved credit card offers, or anything with your personal information on it before disposal.
Keep your PIN Numbers safe Most debit cards and some credit cards come with PIN numbers. These numbers are supposed to be only known by you. Don’t write this number down on a piece of paper in your wallet or on the card. If you have a hard time remembering the PIN number, contact the issuing financial institution or card company to see if there is a way you can change the PIN number to something easier to remember.
Keep your bills and mail safe When paying your bills by mail, it is probably a good idea to take your mail to the post office or secure drop off instead of placing them in your mail box. Make sure you verify that thepayment has been received—you should report lost or stolen items immediately. NOTE!!! Consider paying all your bills electronically with Online Bill Pay. This method is considered more secure than mailing paper checks.
Watch out for Dumpster Divers Dumpster Diving is the term used for criminals who will go through your trash looking for personal information. Ways to avoid this is to always use a shredder to shred personal information and to take your trash out the morning of pick-up instead of the night before.
Watch out for Spoofing and Phone Scams Spoofing is the scam where your caller ID will say a call is coming from a bank or credit card company you use but it is not the actual company calling you. The criminals have “spoofed” a company’s phone number to call you. Do not offer personal information over the phone if you have not verified the caller’s identity. If you are unsure of their identity, it is okay to hang up and call the company yourself using a known phone number. Do not call them back at a number they provide you - it can be another trick.
Watch out for Email and Prize Scams Many fraudsters are using email because it is a quick way to get your information. Emails requesting your personal information, asking you to verify your account, or informing you that you’ve won a prize are usually scams, even if the email looks real! If the email says to click on a link or attachment, do not click on it until you have verified with the company that the email is authentic. If the email came from someone you do not do business with, delete the email and do not click on any links or attachments.
Questions and Concerns? Fraud is constantly evolving and new scams are on the rise. Please contact us if you have any questions about Fraud or if you think you have become a victim at (432) 262-1667.