Steps You Can Take To Protect Yourself From Fraud
Fraud is a rampant problem that everyone can become vulnerable to. You’re probably already familiar with the most popular forms of online fraud such as deceitful online ads, scam emails and an entire plague of fraudulent social media posts, ads and claims. Perhaps you’ve also received suspicious phone calls or you might even have been visited in your home by people intending to defraud you. You might even have fallen for a few scams. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to protect both yourself and your loved ones from fraud.
1. Become familiar with the most common warning signs
Although the list of scams that surround us a long one that keeps increasing with each passing year, there are many common tactics and warning signs that can help you recognize an attempted fraud. By becoming aware of the early red flags you will be able to more easily evade even more sophisticated schemes. Do your research into the most common as well as the latest scams in your area. Once you know them, you will also be able to find tips on how to avoid them.
2. Don’t give out personal information
This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times we put our personal information at risk by sharing it through unsecured channels. Unless you’re 100% certain of who you’re communicating with, you should avoid sharing any personal information over the phone or the internet. Be especially prudent with your credit card details. Never share them in regular emails, instead opt for encrypted ones.
When entering the details on a website, make sure that it is a secured site otherwise you risk providing potential scammers with free access to your credit card. You can check whether or not a website is secure by firstly checking their URL. Websites that start with https are secure. Some browsers will also include a sign to let you know whether the site you’re accessing is secure or not.
You can also install browser extensions such as ad and malware blockers that will alert you when you attempt to access an unsecured website and may even prevent it altogether.
3. Regularly change your access information
While it’s important to have strong and secure passwords, PINs and access codes, it’s equally important to update them regularly. This is true even if you don’t think your accounts have been compromised. It’s recommended that you update all access information at least twice a year, and even more often if you suspect that you’ve been a target for fraud.
Try to create the strongest passwords by avoiding using things that can be easily guessed, and never use obvious ones such as your name, significant personal dates, “123456” or “password”. If you’re having trouble remembering your passwords, write them down and store them in a secure place. Another option is to use programs that are designed to store your passwords online. Of course, make sure that the program you’re using is legitimate and secure before entering any sensitive information.
4. Check your financial statements and credit reports
The first time most people notice unusual activity is by checking their financial statements. Get yours regularly and go over them to make sure that all transactions are legitimate. However, certain types of fraud such as someone applying for a credit card in your name or even taking out a loan may not show up in your regular financial statement.
Therefore, ordering a credit report is the best way to protect yourself against identity fraud. Discovering identity fraud too late can have catastrophic consequences on your credit score and financial wellbeing. Make sure to order one once or twice a year to make sure that there isn’t any unauthorized activity and that all the information is correct.
5. Dispose of documents correctly
All documents that contain sensitive personal information should be shredded or otherwise destroyed before being disposed of. Figure out how long certain documents need to be kept, and collect all the rest in one place. Include everything that contains financial information, such as old tax returns, banks statements and old receipts.
All documents that contain your full name and address should also be disposed of properly. Once you know that you don’t need to keep them, run them through the shredder before throwing them out or recycling them.