Try to Stop Fraud


Among the many reasons to be Happy 2020 is near the end - it was a banner year for scammers. All the usual suspects were on the prowl including fake Covid testing, and stimulus checks thefts. There were more than 1,697,000 reported Frauds in 2019 and it only got worse in 2020. They say your best defense against Fraud is You. But, it is very hard to keep up with this new group of electronic thieves. So many of them work in financial institutions and they have extreme access to manage the little money you do have. An obvious but critical task for reducing fraud is reviewing the bank statement. It’s important that you do a quick scan and take notice of anything out of the ordinary. The bank statement should be received unopened - then scanned for any red flags. If you bank online you can get the details of the transactions immediately.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says some of the most common online risks are:

  • Email account compromise (EAC) ccams:  Criminals send a message that appears to come from a known source, making a legitimate request. A vendor that your company works with might appear to send an invoice with an updated mailing address, for example, or a home buyer gets a message from their title company with instructions on how to wire a down payment.
  • Identity theft: Someone steals personal information, such as your Social Security number, to commit fraud or theft.
  • Ransomware: Malicious software, also called malware, keeps you from accessing your computer files, systems, or networks until you pay a ransom.
  • Spoofing: A scammer disguises an email address, a sender’s name, a phone number, or a website address to make you believe you’re interacting with a trusted source.
  • Phishing: Phishing schemes direct you to fake websites that might look nearly identical to the real thing and ask you to enter sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and personal identification numbers (PINs). Similar variations include vishing (scams happen over the phone, voice mail, or VoIP), smishing (via SMS messages), and pharming (malicious code is installed on your computer).

I'm always on watch for discrepancies in my bank accounts like a hawk. Yet, last month my joint bank account with my Sister got hacked at our Bank. We believe it was an inside job. Not only, because they used a debit card that had not been used in over three years.  But, they were able to pass all the code parameters set up on the account like family names, etc. etc.  The fraudster supposedly called into the bank to request a change of address, then request a replacement debit card to be shipped to the new address. Instead of a phone call or text from my Bank, they sent me a verification of address change via the US Mail.  Now, you already know that the mail has slowed down due to politics, so by the time I got the letter the eager bank personnel, had already sent out a replacement debit card to the thieves. When I called them upon receipt of the letter, a request for an initial Fraud investigation was opened.  I got the investigation number at that time and expected a full report to be forthcoming.  Three weeks later our bank account got hit for several withdrawals/charges at stores totaling thousands of dollars.  The Fraud department had not done their job, nor notified me that they had issued a replacement card to the thieves. I was MAD as HELL and marched down to the branch, to demand a conversation with the bank Manager.  After 14 days we got our money back. Who do you think came up with this scheme?

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Here are ways to secure your bank accounts and avoid Identity theft:

Check your account activity regularly. This may be the single most effective strategy you can employ to secure your finances. Balancing a checkbook is advised, though the technique is becoming outdated with the advent of online banking. At the very least, you should log in and view your account activity multiple times per week to make sure there are no unexpected transactions.

Keep your PIN and passwords secret. These are the keys to your money. Guard them with vigilance. Do not give them out to anyone, and never write them down on paper, in an email or in a text message. These can all be easily intercepted. Get a new password every few months or so.

Do not give out account info over the phone. Your bank will not call requesting your account numbers, PINs or passwords. They already have this information. You should be automatically suspicious of unexpected calls. If you have any doubts about the caller, hang up and call your bank directly.

Don’t click links embedded in emails. It is easy for scammers to rig convincing emails. If you get an email from your bank, don’t click on the links. They could lead you anywhere. Instead, type in the bank’s web address in your browser and navigate from there.

Don’t use public computers for online banking. This is never a good idea. Even if you’re careful to make sure no one sees your screen and you remember to log out completely, an expert scam artist can find ways to record your activity. You should also avoid conducting transactions using public Wi-Fi.

Report lost cards immediately. Act fast and prevent fraud before it can happen. Don’t procrastinate. As soon as you realize your card is missing, call the bank and have them send you a new one.

Be aware of your surroundings at ATMs. Keep an eye on the people around you. Make sure no one is standing too close. Use the curved mirror to watch activity behind. It is absolutely imperative you keep your PIN secret and close your transaction completely before walking away from the machine. If there is anything at all suspicious, quit your transaction and walk away immediately.

Watch out for skimmers. Skimmers are interesting little devices that can be placed over ATM card slots in order to steal your account information. They can be installed and uninstalled in a matter of seconds. If the card slot looks peculiar, don’t use it.

Take your receipt. At the ATM, wait for your receipt to print and take it with you. Do not toss it in a trashcan. The information could be used to access your accounts.

If you believe you are a victim of fraud, establish a Fraud report. Contact credit reporting agencies for additional help and advice. Among the first steps to take if you believe your credit or finances have been compromised, is to safeguard your credit so criminals can't apply for loans or credit cards in your name. Tools for this include:

  • Fraud alerts: A fraud alert asks lenders who view your credit report to verify your identity before processing a credit application or issuing credit in your name.
  • Credit freezes: A credit freeze, or security freeze, restricts access to your credit file until you remove, or "thaw," the freeze.

Due to recent events, I do not believe that we have all the tools necessary to protect ourselves. Scammers are more advanced than last year and you are lucky when you have not been a victim. So, we have to be more diligent and prepare for the worst. The best thing we can do is get on any suspicious claims immediately.  My thief lived in Roswell Georgia, not another country. So, watch out for your neighbors and be vigilant. It does get difficult these days to Enjoy Your Life.  But, try your Best!

* Thanks for Visiting. This post is ForYourEdutainment (FYE). I am not a Financial Counselor, just a woman on this life journey.  Please leave a comment & Share, Share, Share.  Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin  for new post updates, and on Pinterest**

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