Lauren Smith, WalletHub Staff Writer
You can help prevent fraud by monitoring your credit report, protecting your personal and financial information, destroying sensitive documents, and reporting suspicious activity. Although fraud is widespread, you can minimize the threat with vigilance and attentiveness.
8 Steps You Can Take to Help Prevent Fraud
- Monitor your credit report: Setting up credit monitoring can help you spot fraudulent activity in nearly real-time. When you are aware of suspicious activity, you can freeze your accounts, order new credit or debit cards, and dispute erroneous charges. You could also place a freeze on your credit reports to prevent unauthorized borrowing.
- Only share information with trusted sources: Do not share sensitive information via phone or email unless you verify the source. Scammers often send fraudulent messages that appear as though they are from a trustworthy organization. This technique, called phishing, is widely used to gain access to personal data.
- Report suspicious activity: Immediately report any suspicious activity, like unknown purchases or withdrawals, to your financial institution and the authorities to ward off any further fraudulent activity and to reverse any invalid transactions.
- Use credit cards rather than debit cards: Credit cards provide superior fraud protection versus debit cards. All four major card networks offer $0 liability guarantees for unauthorized credit card transactions. Plus, the money is not immediately withdrawn from your bank account when you’re using a credit card, which gives you more time to notice fraudulent activity before paying.
- Use strong passwords for accounts: Passwords for your online accounts should be at least 12 characters and exclude information like your name, birthdate and ZIP code. You can use a password manager like Keeper or LastPass to generate and store secure passwords. Also, do not enter passwords or other personal data on sites while using public computers.
- Use two-factor authentication: Stolen or compromised passwords are often used to hack personal data. It’s best to add an additional layer of protection. Two-factor authentication requires your password as well as possession of your smartphone or another device, or a biometric characteristic like your fingerprint or voice.
- Shred sensitive documents: To avoid exposing yourself to fraud, it’s important to destroy physical documents with sensitive information like tax forms, financial statements or utility bills before throwing them away.
- Secure your mail: Ensure your mailbox is locked while unattended. Personal data is often stolen from mailboxes to commit bank or wire fraud and identity theft.
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Dmitriy Fomichenko, President, Sense Financial
In addition to it, make sure to check your credit reports regularly. You are authorized to receive one free copy of credit report from each of the bureaus, so schedule a request in every four months, and analyze it for any unusual activity.
Scott Short, Mortgage Broker
Www.ftc.gov The Federal Trade Commission regulates credit
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