Saturday Finances—5 Easy Ways to Avoid Fraud

Practical recommendations from the FTC

Protect your information

5 Easy Ways to Avoid Fraud

1.  Never respond to an online request for personal or financial information—even if it looks like the email was sent from your bank.

This will often show up as a notice from a bank or credit card company informing you of a security breach.  Ignore it.  Don't even open the email.  Instead, go to the bank's website & check for information regarding a security breach.  

2.  Do not respond to unexpected offers over the phone, especially if you are in the midst of refinancing.  

To find out if the caller is a spammer, use your caller ID, and google the phone number.  It will immediately show up on spam alert websites.

If you have an iPhone (like I do), block the caller by clicking the "i" for information next to the phone number in your "recent calls" phone log.  Scroll down to the bottom of the caller information to block the number.

Contacts > Recent > "i" > scroll down to block

Spammers have recently begun to use area codes and prefixes that are local in order to fool you into thinking that it's someone you may know.  If you don't recognize the number, don't pick up the call.

If it's legit, they will leave a message.  

3.  Do not respond to solicitations from charities, especially over the phone.  I don't care if it's your grandmother's ghost asking for a donation to the help repaint the Pearly Gates, don't give your credit card number to anyone over the phone.

A professional organization should not ask for financial info over the phone, by text, or by email.  Even if someone says they know you, don't give out your credit card number.  

Instead, donate directly to the organization's website.  

Make sure that the site uses encryption technology to protect financial info.  The URL should begin with "https."  The "s" stands for "secure," indicating that the information is encrypted and transmitted securely.  If the URL does not have an "s" as part of its http address, do not donate to the site. 

For more good tips on how to safely donate online:  American Institute of Philanthropy Charity Watch 

4.  Do not respond to email, text or phone calls regarding debt relief, student loans, insurance, disability benefits, or mortgage refi.

These phishing scams often follow in the wake of legitimate applications (e.g. mortgage refi, disability application, student loans).  

The identity thief will offer assistance in completing the application, then follow up by asking you to confirm your account number, application number, social security number, password, and other personal information.

Don't respond to a phone call from anyone inquiring about your application.  Get the name of the caller, hang up immediately, and write down the phone number.  Contact a bank representative to verify the caller, or google the number and check for a scam alert.  

Report suspicious calls & emails to the Social Security Fraud Hotline  and/or FTC Fraud Complaints.   

5.  Stay up-to-date on the latest scams by having FTC Scam Alerts sent to your email. 

• fight • fraud • stay • safe • 

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