Identity theft and financial fraud are on the rise, and with today's technology, fraudsters are always coming up with clever new ways to access your money and information. When it comes to protecting yourself against the threat of financial fraud, you are the first line of defense. Follow these helpful tips to avoid fraud and keep your money and personal information out of the wrong hands:
It's important to check your account and credit card activity on a regular basis so you can detect fraudulent charges. The earlier you identify the signs of fraud, the sooner you can take steps to stop the unauthorized charges on your accounts.
Phishing scams occur when fraudsters pretend to be from reputable companies or organizations (including banks or credit unions) and contact consumers by email, text, or over the phone to convince them to reveal their personal information. The information is then used to open new accounts or take over existing accounts. Be aware of phishing scams; never respond to unsolicited phone calls, text messages, or emails that ask for your personal information.
One of the best ways to protect against online fraud is by creating strong, secure passwords and changing them every two to three months. Avoid the temptation to use an overly simple password that can be easily guessed by hackers. It's best to create a password that uses at least eight characters and has a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Card “skimmers" are phony card-reading devices that fit on top of real credit or debit card-readers to capture card data. Thieves use the stolen card data to drain accounts, open new accounts, and even manufacture false credit cards. Before using a card-reader, check that it hasn't been tampered with. If the card-reading device or keypad feels loose, or if the security seal has been broken, you've probably spotted a card skimmer.
Online shopping is quick and convenient, but it also carries a level of risk. Avoid using non-secure websites, which open the door for individuals to steal your personal and payment information. Before you enter your payment information online, always be sure the website you're using is reputable and secure. Secure websites will have a lock symbol in the address bar, and a web address that begins with “https" (with the “s" standing for “secure").
When shopping online, beware of online stores offering deals that seem a little too good to be true. There are plenty of fake websites that promise great prices but will never ship the product you ordered, or ship a knockoff product. Research the website and compare prices with other stores to help determine if an offer is legitimate.
You can check your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus for free at least once every 12 months. Reviewing your credit reports will help you detect and dispute instances of identity theft or credit card fraud. If you notice unfamiliar accounts or lines of credit on your credit report, contact the credit bureau that issued the report immediately. You can also place a freeze on your credit report to prevent further damage.
At Wright-Patt Credit Union, we believe it's more important than ever to help our members safeguard their hard-earned money and personal information. We have the tips, tools, and resources to help you protect your accounts and information against the threat of fraud. Learn more about fraud education and awareness and find more helpful fraud prevention tips resources at our Fraud Education and Prevention page.