Protect Yourself Against Fraud
Fake debt collection, identity theft and impostor scams are topping the list of fraud reported, and these scams seem to be on the rise. There were nearly 350,000 reports of impostor scams in previous year, which resulted in $328 million unrightfully paid to individuals posing as loved ones, government officials and more, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC received complaints of fraud from 2.7 million people. Florida, Georgia and Nevada had the highest number of fraud reports.
1. If someone calls you demanding money, hang up the phone.
Most victims of fraud were contacted by phone. If you receive a call from anyone claiming to be from the Credit Union, keep in mind that the Credit Union will never ask for your social security or card number over the phone.
It is estimated that the average amount of money lost to over the phone scams was $720. The average amount lost to fraud was $429 while the average loss among military consumers was slightly higher, at $619. The median amount lost to impostors was $500 and the highest median loss was related to travel, vacations and timeshares, at $1,710.
2. Avoid making payments through wire transfer.
The phone and wire transfer scheme is one of the oldest tricks in the book. This is because once you send the money, it’s difficult to get it back. Most of the victims that were contacted by phone also paid the scammers through wire transfer. Make sure you do your research and establish credibility before you send money to anyone.
3. Be extra careful about how you share sensitive information.
You can protect yourself from identity theft by being very careful with your sensitive information. For example, avoid sharing your social security number through unsecured internet connection. Avoid sharing your credit card information over the phone. You can also protect your identity by destroying old documents that contain your information.
About 14 percent of reported fraud was related to identity theft. Victims of identity theft also fell prey to credit card fraud. Taking these steps could really save you from losing money to a scam.
4. Download Skimmer Scanners onto your smart phone.
Fuel Pump Skimmers can steal your Credit or Debit Card information without you ever suspecting. Especially when using your pin (personal identification number). Signature transactions may offer a safer alternative – although there is never a guarantee. The Skimmer Scanner App for Android (with a 4 star rating) uses your phone's Bluetooth radio to detect a common radio component in modern fuel pump skimmers (HC-05) and warn you if you're about to get scammed. Please keep in mind that failure to detect an HC-05 based device does not guarantee there is no skimmer present. There's always a risk to sticking your card in a strange machine.