Protect your Identity from Phishing Scams and Other Fraud

Technological advances can certainly make our lives easier, but they create drawbacks as well. One of the biggest threats technology poses to our financial health is fraud. There are all sorts of cyber-crime aimed at identity theft and gathering your personal information. Phishing scams and other types of fraud try to get your passwords or other information, such as your social security number. There are also other technologies, like scanners, that target your credit cards and give hackers access to your account.

A new Identity Theft Technology Can Scan Cards in Your Purse or Wallet

A family member of mine recently had her credit card number stolen, and the culprit subsequently tried to make fraudulent purchases.  Luckily, the charges were denied, and the credit card company took quick action to freeze the account.  The credit card company’s Fraud Department concluded that the suspect likely used a new type of scanner. 

These scanners can read the imbedded information on the strip of your credit card while it’s still in your purse or wallet. The scanners target credit cards that use RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology and contain chips with your personal and financial information.   To keep up with this “technological advance” there are now products available to help block the scanner from being able to read your information. Consumers need to be savvy and aware of these changes in order to prevent identity theft. 

How to Protect against Fraud and Identity Theft

It’s important to be aware of the changes that could affect your identity and financial health.  But, while we may not always know about the latest gadgets being used to commit fraud and identity theft, there are some simple tips to help keep your identity safe:

  • Be sure to read your financial documents including bank statements, credit card statements, and medical benefits statements.  Mistakes on these documents could be the first clue that your identity is in danger.

  • Invest in a paper shredder and shred documents that contain personal information.  Many thieves will go through trash cans and dumpsters looking for private information.

Protect your Identity from Phishing Scams and Other Fraud Online

  • Create complex passwords – that means don’t use the last four digits of your SSN, your dog’s name or your favorite sports team.  Try to use a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters and change the passwords every few months. Also, use different passwords for your email and financial websites. If someone hacks into your email, you don’t want them to be able to use the same password to access your financial information.

  • Be wary of emails that ask you for personal information such as your SSN or bank account number. These emails are at the heart of most phishing scams. Thieves create misleading emails that look like they come from legitimate companies, maybe even companies that you use on a regular basis. Keep in mind that, typically, legitimate businesses do not ask for sensitive information via email, so do not supply this information.  When in doubt, call the business directly and come up with alternative ways to get them the information they need.

For More Information about Fraud and Identity Theft Prevention

This has been a brief overview of some ID theft technologies. If you would like to learn more about phishing scams, fraud, and identity theft prevention, check out the FTC website. They have numerous resources, including free copies of booklets and brochures about identity theft.

Also, stay tuned to our blog, as Clearpoint is preparing for Protect Your ID Week, hosted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Check out our Facebook page to learn about Protect Your ID Week events in your area.

Thomas Bright is a longstanding Clearpoint blogger and student loan repayment aficionado who hopes that his writing can simplify complex subjects. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him hiking, running or reading philosophy. You can follow him on Twitter.

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