Five Ways to Protect Yourself from Fraud

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International Fraud Awareness Week: November 15–21

five ways to protect yourself from fraudBy the time you finish reading this sentence, a financial crime will have been committed somewhere in the United States; if you can believe it, financial fraud is committed every 15 seconds. Let that sink in. Every. 15. Seconds. The elderly population is especially vulnerable, and it’s been estimated that seniors lose $2.9 billion a year. In honor of Fraud Awareness Week, we’ll share five ways to protect yourself from fraud, and ways our office can assist should you fall victim.

1. Shred sensitive documents

Documents containing social security numbers or bank account information should never be recycled. If this type of paperwork falls into the wrong hands, you could fall victim to identity theft or your credit score could be adversely affected if accounts are opened in your name. Paper shredders are relatively inexpensive and found at most retail stores, however, if you aren’t interested in making a purchase, some financial institutions host free shredding events at their branch locations.

2. Choose a credit card with fraud protection

Most credit card companies offer fraud protection among member benefits. Other payment methods like cash or wire transfers are riskier in that the cash can be lost and money wired to the incorrect recipient is unlikely to be recouped. Reputable businesses will accept multiple payment options, so choose the one that leaves you the least vulnerable.

3. Do your homework

Use the power of the internet and your network of friends to inquire about companies you are considering doing business with. If an online search reveals negative reviews or makes mention of a company being part of a scam, it might be a good idea to consider an alternative.

4. Don’t be blinded by love

Internet dating has risen in popularity in recent years. As more platforms arise, more opportunities exist to find love—and yourself in trouble, if you aren’t careful. Sweetheart scams occur when someone in an online relationship preys on a victim for financial gain. Remember, you can’t be sure who you are talking to if you haven’t met them in person. Be careful with sharing personal information with strangers, even if they feel like friends.

5. Be skeptical

If something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Likewise, if something feels “off” it just might be. Trust your intuition, and be cautious about giving out personal information unless the request is from someone you know or do business with.

What if you’re a victim of fraud?

If you spot a scam, or have fallen victim, you can report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. You can also contact us and we’ll do our best to help.