To protect your assets, check your accounts and set fraud alerts.
The Federal Trade Commission received 1.4 million fraudulent reports in 2018, which amounted to $1.84 billion in losses.
Fraud complaints are most commonly filed under the following categories: identity theft, imposter scams and debt collection.
More than 167,000 people have reported that a fraudulent credit-card account was opened using their personal information.
Who are most at risk of identity theft?
People who do not regularly monitor their credit reports for unusual activity or warning signs, and those who are less likely to report it. Children and seniors are the top two groups that are most aggressively targeted.
Criminals will often first make small charges when they steal your information before making large purchases. You should make sure that your accounts are checked on a daily basis to ensure you can account for every dollar spent. You should pay particular attention to where and how your money is being spent. You should immediately call your bank or credit card company if you notice something suspicious. You can increase your chances of recovering the funds you have lost by reporting fraudulent charges promptly
Contact a local police officer if you suspect you have been the victim of fraud or a scam. The FDIC states that fraud is committed by people who don’t intend to deliver what they sell, misrepresent goods, send counterfeit goods, or attempt to trick you into giving money.
FDIC offers some great tips for avoiding identity theft, frauds and other scams.
If you initiate the conversation or are the one dealing with the person, do not give out personal information via the telephone, mail, or online.
If someone unexpectedly contacts you online and requests your personal information, be suspicious. It doesn’t matter if the website or e-mail looks legitimate. Do not open e-mails from unknown people or organizations. Fraudulent e-mails and websites with typos or other obvious errors should be avoided.
Unsolicited requests for personal information should not be complied with. You should keep confidential your social security numbers, financial account information, and driver’s license number.
You should be wary of any incoming text messages or e-mails asking you to click on a hyperlink. This could install malware that can allow thieves to spy on your computer, gain access to your data and even steal your identity.
Do not respond to any phone or e-mail requests for personal information updates or verifications. A legitimate organization will not ask you to verify or update your information in an unsecure manner.
You can confirm that a message has been sent by contacting the sender. It is better to contact the sender yourself than using the contact information provided in the message.
Protect yourself against identity theft and credit card fraud with:
Ask for a security alert to be added to credit reports. To get started, visit Experian’s Fraud Center online.
Your credit reports are worth a look. You are entitled to a free copy if you have been the victim of identity theft. Federal law gives you the right to an annual credit report free of charge from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion even if you are not a victim.
You can also freeze your credit. Criminals cannot access your credit without your permission. More information about freezing credit is available here.
Register for Credit Karma and Lifelock monitoring services.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month According to Homeland Security, National Cybersecurity Awareness month (NCSAM), which is held every October, is a joint effort between industry and government to raise awareness about cybersecurity and ensure that all Americans have access to the resources necessary to make their online lives safer.
“NCSAM 2019 will stress personal accountability and emphasize the importance of proactive steps to improve cybersecurity at work and home. The overarching message for 2019 is “Own IT.” Secure IT. Secure IT. Protect IT. You can learn more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month on the Homeland Security website.