Check Your Accounts & Set Up Fraud Alerts
Protect your assets.
- In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission processed 1.4 million fraud reports which totaled $1.84 billion in losses.
- The most common categories for fraud complaints include: imposter scams, debt collection, and identity theft.
- More than 167,000 people reported a fraudulent credit card account was opened with their information.
Who is most at risk for identity theft? People who don’t regularly check for abnormalities and warning signs and those who are unlikely to report irregular activity on their credit reports. The top two demographics that are aggressively targeted are children and seniors.
When criminals steal your information, they will often make small charges first before making major purchases. Make sure you check your accounts on a daily basis and that you are able to account for every dollar spent. Pay special attention to where your money is spent and where as well. If something is suspicious and you are afraid of identity theft, make a phone call immediately to your bank or credit card company. By promptly reporting the fraudulent charges, you improve your chances of recovering your lost funds.
If you believe you are the victim of a fraud or scam, contact a local law enforcement officer. According to the FDIC, “People who have no intention of delivering what is sold, who misrepresent items, send counterfeit goods or otherwise try to trick you out of your money are committing fraud.”
The FDIC has some excellent tips to avoid identity theft, frauds, and scams:
- Do not share personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you initiated the contact or know the person you are dealing with
- Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly online and asks for your personal information. It doesn’t matter how legitimate the e-mail or website may look. Only open e-mails that look like they are from people or organizations you know, and even then, be cautious if they look questionable. Be especially wary of fraudulent e-mails or websites that have typos or other obvious mistakes
- Don’t give out valuable personal information in response to unsolicited requests. Social Security numbers, financial account information and your driver’s license number are some of the details that should be kept confidential
- Be aware of incoming e-mail or text messages that ask you to click on a link because the link may install malware that allows thieves to spy on your computer and gain access to your information
- Be suspicious of any e-mail or phone requests to update or verify your personal information because a legitimate organization would not solicit updates in an unsecured manner for information it already has
- Confirm a message is legitimate by contacting the sender (it is best to look up the sender’s contact information yourself instead of using contact information in the message)
See more here.
Help protect yourself from identity theft and credit card fraud by:
- Request a security alert be added to your credit reports. Go online to Experian’s Fraud Center to get started.
- Check your credit reports. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report. If you haven’t been a victim, Federal law entitles you to a free annual credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- Freezing your credit is an option as well, criminals will not be able to access your credit without permission. Here is more information on freezing your credit.
- Sign up for a monitoring service such as Credit Karma or Lifelock.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month!
“Held every October, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online,” according to Homeland Security.
“NCSAM 2019 will emphasize personal accountability and stress the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and in the workplace. This year’s overarching message – Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT. – will focus on key areas including citizen privacy, consumer devices, and ecommerce security.” Learn more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month here on the Homeland Security website.
Every weekday in October, we’ll help spread Cybersecurity awareness by sharing an important online safety tip.
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