The holiday season is approaching quickly and so is the most popular time of the year for fraudsters to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. While some types of fraud are obvious, criminals are getting increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to trick people and even the smartest people may fall prey. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself:
Keep an Eye on Your Bank and Credit Card Accounts
It’s easy to get busy in life and not take the time to review the charges on your credit and bank accounts but it’s important to review them regularly to look for suspicious charges. Many thieves start out with small charges and then increase them as they realize that no one is flagging them as fraudulent.
Use Passwords Smartly
Security experts recommend that you use different passwords for each account and store them in a secure place like a password keeper mobile app. They also recommend changing them on a regular basis. It’s also smart to not use common personal information like birthdays as a password.
Watch out for Phishing Attempts
Phishing is an attempt to gain personal information or account access that can allow a criminal to either access your computer or your accounts. It can come through email, phone calls/texts or social media outreaches. It’s important to remember the following:
Emails – Never click on links from an individual that you don’t know. Also, be sure to check the email address it’s from to see if the second is a legitimate business name. If it’s from a personal account or the business name has extra letters or words in it, be leery. Also, if you notice typos in the email, there’s a good chance it’s not from a legitimate organization.
Texts and Phone calls – If someone calls you and says they are from your bank, credit union, credit card company, the IRS or any other financial institution, don't give them any personal information. Thank them for the alert and then call the company directly to report fraud and check your account.
Social media – If anyone reaches out to you on social media and you don’t know them, it could very well be a phishing attempt or scam. Many criminals create fake accounts with nice photos of men or women who look trustworthy. Then, they reach out to establish a relationship with you and once they gain your trust, they start asking for money or your account information. In some cases, they will steal your friend’s identity and try to reach out from that account. Anytime you get a friend request, be sure to check your friend list to see if you are already friends. If you are, its most likely a scam.
Avoid Using Your Debit Card at Gas Stations
It’s become increasingly common for fraudsters to insert card readers into the credit card readers at gas stations in less populated areas of town. The smartest thing to do is to use a credit card instead of a debit card so that your main funds will still be available while a fraud attempt is resolved. It’s also smart to avoid poorly lit gas stations in less populated parts of town – or you can pay inside.
Shred Financial Papers
Another source of fraud can be stolen physical documents. Before you send your bank statements and other papers with account numbers to the trash, be sure to shred them. You can either buy a shredder or participate in Select FCU’s free annual shred day.
If you ever suspect you are a victim of fraud and your Select FCU account is involved, be sure to call us right way at (210) 223-6561.