5 Easy Steps To Help Avoid Fraud And Identity Theft

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Fraudsters continue to find new ways to separate you from your personal information and your money. No one is immune from identity theft. With a few simple steps, you can avoid some of the biggest and fastest growing traps. Even if your information, account or identity is compromised you shouldn’t panic. With proper advanced planning you should be able to minimize the loss of both time and money. Here are five steps to help you protect your data and your wallet.

1. Rising Risk: Be Very Careful Before Clicking On Any Link In A Text Message

One of the oldest tricks in the book is “phishing.” A fraudster pretends to be a legitimate business, and tricks you into sharing your personal details. Historically, fraudsters would call you on the phone or send you an email. Recently, text message attacks are becoming a lot more common. Be very careful when you receive an SMS with a link or a phone number you do not recognize. Be even more suspicious when you see a message warning of un-authorized activity or asking you to update your personal information.

Text messages on smartphones carry two big risks. First, by tapping on the link you could be taken to a false website that captures your personal information. But increasingly, sophisticated fraudsters are creating malware that can get into your smartphone. Fraudsters try to gain access to your phone, and all of the information on your phone including your mobile banking app.

Tip: Avoid clicking on links in text messages. If you are warned of a suspicious transaction on your account, call the phone number on the back of your credit or debit card to see if the warning is true. Just delete the text message.

2. Don’t Forget The Danger Of Fake Emails And Phone Calls

Tales of the Russian hack of the Democratic party continue to dominate the headlines. Perhaps not surprisingly, the hack used one of the oldest tricks in the book: email phishing. Victims received an email telling them that their Google email accounts had been compromised. There was a link in the email that took the victim to a page that looked exactly like a Google login page. The victims input their username and password, providing access to fraudster.

This type of fraud remains incredibly common – and is a very easy way for fraudsters to obtain access to your personal information and accounts. For example, you could get an email telling you that your credit card was used in Asia and that you need to verify charges. When you click on the link, you will be taken to a website that looks like your bank website – and you will be asked to input your username and password. Once you do that, you are giving the fraudsters the keys to your account.

Tip: Avoid clicking on emails and then providing personal information. If you get an email from what appears to be your bank warning you of fraudulent activity, delete the email. Call your bank (using the number on the back of your card) or go directly to your bank website to investigate.

3. Be Careful With ATMs

With the introduction of chip technology on cards, the frequency of skimming will reduce. However, the risk is still real. Preventing a bartender or waitress from skimming your card while they have it in their possession is virtually impossible. But there is still a real risk of using ATM machines.

First, be careful if you are using an ATM after hours and are required to use your card to open the door to the bank. As bank security of the ATM machine has increased, fraudsters have increasingly started adding skimming devices to the door.

Second, ATMs in bank branches are under intense security. ATMs that are far from the watchful eye of bank cameras are more at risk of being compromised. Be extra-vigilant when using non-bank ATMs, especially if they are in isolated locations.

Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickclements/2017/03/30/5-easy-steps-to-help-avoid-fraud-and-identity-theft/

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