Week 3: Preventing Fraud
We’re back for another week of cybersecurity tips! This week we’re talking about how to spot fraudulent activity on your accounts and how you can stop fraud in its tracks.
First, we’ll talk about some common signs of fraud to look for on your accounts.
If you check your accounts weekly, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where your money is being spent. Then one day you check your account and notice a charge for $4 at a gas station a couple of towns over. $4 may seem like nothing, but this is a scammer’s way of testing your account. Once a criminal has gotten ahold of your information, they’ll start by making small transactions. If the transaction goes through unnoticed by you, they’ll feel bold enough to start pulling more money from your account.
Charges from Places/Sites You’ve Never Visited
Similar to small charges, you may notice charges from stores or websites where you’ve never shopped. Before marking this charge as fraud, look into the time and date of the transaction. Small retailers may have their transactions routed through a company out of state or may come up as a different name. If you’re still unsure of the charge, call your financial institution’s fraud department to better understand the charge. When in doubt about the legitimacy of a charge, it is always best to bring it to your financial institution’s attention.
Notification of Change in Information
It’s a huge red flag if you receive an email or letter notifying you of a recent change in your personal account information, especially when you haven’t requested one. If this happens on any of your financial accounts, email addresses or accounts of any other type, report it immediately. This could mean that someone has gained access to your account and has modified the information so you can no longer access it.
Locked Out or Frozen Account
Similar to a changed information notification, being locked out of your account can mean someone is trying to or has already accessed your account. If this is the case, call your financial institution or the service provider to resolve the issue immediately. Be prepared to offer different forms of identification since they’ll need to verify your identity.
Now that you know some of the common signs of fraud, we’ll go over how you can better protect yourself against fraud.
Monitor Your Accounts
If you’re not set up with Online Banking, enroll so you can easily monitor your accounts. Make a habit of checking your accounts 1-2 times a week. That way, you’ll notice anything unusual and potentially stop fraud before it’s too late.
Respond to Fraud Alerts and/or Data Breaches
If you’re set up to receive fraud alerts, respond to them as soon as possible. This helps your financial institution fight back against fraud and better protect your finances.
Report Suspicious Activity on Your Accounts
As soon as you see something suspicious on your account, report it. Don’t wait for an unusual pending charge to clear in case it was an accident. Report anything unusual to your financial institution’s fraud department before a scammer can take full control of your finances.
Sign Up for Credit Monitoring
It’s a common practice for victims of fraud or data breaches to sign up for credit monitoring. Even if you haven’t been a victim of either, it’s still a good idea to have a credit monitoring service. You’ll get real time data on credit alerts and you’ll always know how your credit score is doing.
Fraud prevention and cybersecurity awareness go hand-in-hand when it comes to your overall financial health. While being vigilant of activity on your accounts and proactive about data breaches, you can help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.