How to Protect Yourself From Fraud and Scams - Things You Should Do
In today’s digital age, it’s no surprise that numerous people are the subject of cyber attacks. In fact, last year, consumers reported losing more than $1.9 billion related to fraud complaints. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The FTC also reported that just in the first six months of 2020, people have reported losing nearly $117 million to scams that started on social media.
Protecting yourself from fraud and scams might seem hard when there appears to be a scammer lurking around every digital corner, but as long as you’re armed with the right tips, you’ll find that it’s not that hard. Here’s how to protect yourself from banking fraud, digital scams, and similar predicaments.
How to Protect Yourself from Banking Fraud
Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other top banks all offer free information specific to your account that can help you in protecting your financial information from hackers and thieves. If you have questions about how to protect your account through their banking portal, it’s important to contact a bank representative. However, for all online banking accounts, you’ll want to:
- Keep your contact information up to date so that the bank can contact you immediately if there’s any suspicious activity.
- Create strong passwords. Don’t ever use your name, address, or birthdate in the password and always use symbols and case sensitive characters to make it harder to guess if anyone tries to hack your account.
- Keep a passcode on your phone to make it more difficult for strangers to enter and access sensitive financial and personal information. Better yet, enable biometrics on your phone for an added layer of security.
- Review your account! Make a habit out of reviewing your account transactions weekly to ensure you’re not missing any weird charges. Often, scammers and hackers will charge small amounts to the account over the course of a couple of days just to test the waters and then go in and make larger purchases or withdrawals.
What About Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft?
In 2019, 14.4 million consumers became victims of identity fraud, which is when someone steals personal information and acts as you, whether that be spending your money or posing as you to access things like your tax refunds. How do you protect yourself from identity theft? You look for the signs, which include:
- Not receiving your bills or certain mail because it was stolen from your mailbox or en route to your address.
- Receiving confirmation of credit card accounts through the mail that you never opened.
- Weird alerts on your credit report that you have no explanation for.
- Receiving calls from stores that you’ve never purchased from regarding recent purchases. Or, receiving calls from debt collectors for accounts that you don’t recognize.
Staying Safe from Scams on Social Media
Staying safe on social media is one of the biggest issues of our times and rightfully so. Aside from not giving out personal information to anybody online, what else can you do to stay safe? Lots, actually!
- Use a strong password for all accounts and never save your passwords in a place where somebody who’s hacked into your phone or computer can access them. Download the app 1Password to keep your passwords organized but safe.
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know, especially if you don’t have any mutual friends.
- Don’t give out financial information online and never purchase anything via social media unless you’ve been redirected to a safe, secure website with a certificate of safety.
Really, the easiest way to stay alert while using social media is to be able to easily identify common social media scams, which include:
- Emails that look like they come from Facebook or Instagram. Don’t open these, and if you do, don’t click on any links there are inside. Any official emails from these two social networks will be from official email addresses. Facebook has added a new safety feature to let you confirm whether or not the email was legit or not, too.
- In general, if you receive a direct message via Twitter or any other social networking site and it’s from someone you don’t know, never click on the link.
- Never accept an offer to receive money online either. It’s 99.9999% of the time a scam unless you’ve spoken with the person and agreed to a work agreement or some other contract.
Protect Yourself While Spending
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