Consumer Fraud and Theft Rampant During Holiday Season!
According to Javelin Strategy and Research, $16 Billion was stolen from consumers in 2016! Most of that was perpetrated using New Account Fraud, where the thief uses stolen identities to open new store accounts and make purchases at same time.
With the onset of the Holiday Season several Fraud Campaigns have emerged with the intent of getting to your money! During this season in particular, most Americans are shopping for gifts, giving to charities, and traveling to see loved ones. Protect yourself through AWARENESS, and take a few extra seconds to make yourself ALERT to what may be attempts to defraud you.
Here are 5 things you can do to avoid becoming a victim:
First, when shopping online, DO NOT CLICK ON HYPERLINKS from email advertising. Crooks are very talented at mimicking popular shopping sites to entice you to click on a false link. Enter the address of the shopping site you wish to visit, and be certain that you have entered the proper address line into the browser.
Second, be aware at the checkout line at the store. Best advice, use your Credit Card, not your Debit card, if you can avoid it. Watch, but don’t accuse, the cashier closely. Become aware of the latest exploits being reported on the news. Using information gained from the Equifax breach bad actors will use this information to conduct phone scams, email phishing attempts, and other tactics. Read blogs reporting on Cyber News.
Third, assume anyone who calls on the phone and asks you for sensitive personal information, even to validate your account information, are trying to extract information from you over the phone in order to exploit that information for their gain. They have all the required details about your credit accounts and Personal Identifiable Information.
They may only need a small piece of information to complete their profile of you that will allow them access to your financial accounts. Politely tell them you will call the organization back using a preprinted number on the back of your credit or membership card. Explain to the customer service representative that you received a call and you are calling back over a known phone number to be safe. They will understand and appreciate your effort, and will go out of their way to help you.
Fourth, assume your information is compromised and act now to purchase Identity Theft Protection from one of the known offerors. They work! Just search for “Identity Theft Protection” on the internet and select a known company. Be sure the address in your browser address bar clearly is the company that you were trying to reach before you start to fill out any forms with sensitive personal information.
Fifth, review your bank activity regularly. Do not wait for statements to arrive. Go online, and look over your banking transactions. Any unclear transactions should be addressed immediately!
LET’S BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!
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