Your personal information is a valuable commodity. It’s not only the key to your financial identity, but also to your online identity. Knowing how to protect your information — and your identity — is a must in the 21st century. At Members Trust, we take fraud prevention very seriously, so we wanted to share a few tips to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of fraud.
- Know who you are doing business with – check online reviews and the Better Business Bureau to see if the business is legitimate and credible. Be wary if they are unfamiliar to you. Don’t send money or give out information to an unexpected request via phone, text or email. Always do an online search and call the number that belongs to the business to verify.
- Think about how to pay – Credit cards have the best built-in fraud prevention because you can dispute the charges if you never receive the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account. Wires and gift cards do not offer that same protection – once the money is sent, it’s gone and cannot be retrieved.
- Guard your information – Crooks will pretend to be from a company you do business with to gain access to your personal information. Don’t provide any information unless you have initiated the call to a legitimate phone number. Be suspicious if they ask for information that they should already have.
- Hang up on robocalls – if you answer and hear a recorded message, hang up because these calls may be illegal and are often scams. Report these calls directly to the FTC at https://www.donotcall.gov/.
- Stay safe online – don’t send confidential information like credit card or account numbers via email because it’s not secure. When you are asked to provide confidential information, verify that the address bar in your web browser is secure by showing “https” or “shttp” so that your information is encrypted or scrambled.
- Resist pressure – Con artists want you to decide in a hurry so they may even threaten you. Slow down and do your research. Talk to someone you trust first before responding or sending money.
- Don’t believe in easy money – If they claim you can get money for little or no work, get a loan or credit card if you have bad credit or make money off an investment with no risk, it’s probably a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
- Don’t deposit a check and wire money out – It can take a week or more to identify a bogus check, but the money is already wired out of your account. If the check is fake, you will be responsible for paying the bank.
- Check your credit report – Request a free copy of your report once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com. You can make your request by phone, online or download a form to mail in your request. If you find accounts that don’t belong to you or other incorrect information, follow the instructions to dispute those items.
- Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at gov/scams. Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
The Federal Trade Commission offers great information on privacy, identity and online security. Check out their website at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/.