How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Personal Financial Fraud

Personal financial fraud is a serious crime that can negatively affect your credit, finances, and reputation. Fraudsters will look to get your bank account numbers, credit card details, banking information, and other personal details to commit fraud. Don’t let yourself be a victim of personal financial fraud. While it may not easy to fight fraud all by yourself, you should think about how to reduce your risks. The following tips will help you to avoid becoming a victim of personal financial fraud:

Stay current on the latest financial scams.

To avoid becoming a victim of fraud, you need to stay informed about the latest scams. Fraudsters are constantly creating new tricks to deceive people and steal their money and identity. By remaining current on the newest financial scams, you can better protect your personal finances from falling prey to them.

Talk to your bank about its fraud protection policies.

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what to look for when it comes to online scams. The next step is learning about the steps your bank is taking to make sure you don’t fall victim to them. One thing people often forget is that fraud prevention policies vary from bank to bank. It’s important that you know your bank’s policies, and what kind of fraud protection it offers. Talk with a local banker if you’re unsure where things stand—and if they can’t help, consider finding an institution that will give you the peace of mind your personal finances deserve.

Be wary about making purchases over the Internet.

You can avoid becoming a victim of fraud by being careful when making purchases over the Internet. If you’re unsure whether an e-commerce website is legitimate, research its reputation before making a purchase. It’s also important to make sure that any online transaction you make is secure—this helps ensure that your personal information, such as credit card numbers, won’t fall into the wrong hands.

When shopping online, choose websites that have positive reputations for safe transactions and reliable customer service. As with brick-and-mortar stores, you patronize in real life and read reviews from other customers to learn about their experiences. You can also search for mentions of the site on social media or in news articles; if you see many negative reviews or reports of possible fraud associated with it, steer clear.

Be careful about responding to unsolicited email messages.

Be careful about responding to unsolicited email messages. In particular, be aware of emails that request your personal information such as account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, or credit card numbers. If you receive an email message that looks suspicious, delete it without opening any of the attachments.

Always be suspicious of telephone calls requesting personal information.

The following are some tips to help you protect yourself from falling victim to phone fraud, as well as what to do if you suspect that you have been a target of this type of scam:

  • Never provide personal information over the phone unless you are sure that it is absolutely necessary for your existing banking relationship.
  • If someone claiming to be from your bank calls and says they need information about you or your account, hang up immediately and call the bank back at its toll-free number (found on the back of your credit card or on statements). This will help ensure that you are speaking with someone who works for the financial institution legitimately.
  • If you think that a fraudulent transaction has been made on an account, report it immediately to the Credit Card Company or Bank where it occurred. It is also recommended that you contact local police and file a report with them as well in case law enforcement decides at some point in the future to investigate further.

Always shred any documents you discard that have personal financial information on them.

It’s important to safeguard your money and information, so it’s wise to destroy documents that could help fraudsters steal your identity. Shred personal financial documents, including bank statements, bills, credit card offers, investment account information, and insurance documents.

Consider restricting or monitoring your credit report.

The best way to prevent and catch personal financial fraud is to ensure that your credit report is accurate. To do this, review your credit report regularly. If there are any errors, they should be corrected immediately. You can freeze your credit if you feel that you need an extra measure of protection against identity theft or fraud.

Another key way to avoid falling victim to financial fraud is to be aware of the tactics used by people trying to commit fraud. Be careful not to reveal any personal information over the phone or the internet, as doing so could make you vulnerable to identity theft or other types of financial fraud. Your passwords should never be shared with anyone else; nor should you click on links or open attachments from unknown sources. Many telephone calls from people claiming to represent a government agency such as KRA are fraudulent attempts at eliciting personal information, so it is wise not to respond to these calls regardless of how genuine they may seem.

Keep your passwords in a secure location, or better yet; don’t write them down at all.

If you have a tendency to forget your passwords, then write them down on paper and store them in a locked drawer or safe, but don’t keep the list on your computer. If someone steals your personal computer, it’s fairly easy for them to access a saved list of passwords. And speaking of password security, never share your password with anyone else. Even if you trust the person and feel like you have no reason not to give out the information, realize that their computer may be hacked. And once hackers gain access to your loved one’s computer, they can easily find those files with stored passwords and use them against you.

You can take some easy precautions that will help you protect your finances and identity

To be clear: Protecting your money and identity from financial fraud is vital. For the majority of people, this means having a good credit score and regularly monitoring your credit report, paying bills online with a secure payment method, setting up complex passwords for all your important accounts, and getting bank accounts with security features like chip-and-PIN cards and fingerprint scanners. The latter two are especially important because they not only protect you against fraudulent transactions but also make it harder to steal your identity in the first place.

Hopefully, the little titbits and tips we provided above will guide and help you avoid becoming a victim. Fraud is a serious problem that affects people across all age groups and at every income level. If you think your information has been compromised, consider your options and precautions. While these tips can help you generally avoid being a victim of personal financial fraud, they are not a substitute for the advice and counsel of a qualified financial advisor. Don’t be caught up in personal financial fraud; contact MA Financial Consultants as soon as you suspect it; we can help.

Roby M. – Consultant

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