When it comes to fraud, vigilance is your number one weapon.You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams.
How Does It Work?
- Incoming mail — and the mail we toss out — are gold mines for identity thieves. Mailboxes, recycling bins, garbage cans and dumpsters are fertile ground for picking up sensitive personal information that thieves can sell or use to commit identity fraud.
- Data breaches seem to be here to stay, in which criminals hack into the systems of banks, retailers and other companies that stockpile sensitive consumer data.
- Phishing emails and texts abound, in the hope someone will click on a link that installs credential-stealing malware on their devices.
- Impostor scams — whether the scammers pose as the IRS, Social Security Administration or others — often focus on extracting sensitive personal information out of their targets for identity theft and fraud.
What should you know?
- Just as there are low-tech and high-tech ways identity thieves steal information, there are low-tech and high-tech ways to be protected against it.
- If your identity is stolen, it doesn’t mean it has been used fraudulently. You can take steps to prevent identity fraud from happening.
What Should You Do?
- Consider upgrading your mailbox to one that locks and shred sensitive documents before recycling or trashing.
- Avoid providing personal information to those who seek it through unsolicited calls and emails.
- Set up online access to your financial accounts. This way you can monitor transactions and quickly recognize fraudulent activity.
- Use different passwords for each online account. Write them down and store them safely, or consider purchasing a password manager application.
- Set up “two-factor authentication” on every online account that offers it. This requires you to enter a passcode that you will receive by phone, text or email, to verify it’s you.
- Request your free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) every 12 months at annualcreditreport.cohttps://www.annualcreditreport.com/. This will help you keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
- Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit reports. This requires creditors to verify you are the one adding new or altering existing accounts. Contact any of the credit bureaus and the others will follow suit.
- Make sure you have the most up-to-date security and anti-virus software installed on your devices.
When it comes to fraud, awareness and monitoring are your number one weapons.