When someone says robbery, we typically imagine a thief wielding a gun. Credit thieves are non-violent, but can be equally effective at their game. Their weapons of choice are the phone, the Internet and the automatic teller machine (ATM).
According to Javelin Strategy & Research, victims of credit theft report an average of $7,260 in fraudulent charges. These criminals don’t just rob victims of money; they can make off with their good names and damage their credit records.
An estimated 8.4 million Americans fall victim to identity theft each year. Protecting your identity is just as important as protecting your home. You would never go away for a day and leave your home unlocked. Pay equal attention to safeguarding your credit information.
If you are vigilant, you can stomp out credit frauds before they start. Use your wits, trust your instincts and bone up on how credit thieves operate. Contact Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions for expert advice on preventing identity theft and tips on keeping your budget in order.
According to the Alliance Against Fraud in Telemarketing, Americans lose nearly $40 billion a year due to telemarketing fraud. Top phone scams involve the following:
Be proactive against telemarketing fraud. Join the “Do Not Call” List. You can eliminate most telemarketing calls to your home phone by signing up with the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry.
Phishing occurs when scam artists send emails that appear to be from a bank or e-commerce organization. Typically, the message falsely claims that the consumer’s account has been compromised. The sender urges immediate action be taken to fix the problem. The consumer is told to click on a link within the email to start the process. Vishing occurs in the same manner; however, the recipient is directed to call a phone number to correct the problem. When they dial the number, they are prompted to give their bank account or credit card information over the phone.
You can help avoid these types of scams if you:
Be proactive when you smell a “phish.” If an email message claims to be from your bank or credit card company, call your bank directly. Use the telephone number that appears on your monthly account statement, not the phone number listed in the email. Report phishing or spoofed emails to the Federal Trade Commission, the Internet Crime Complaint Center and to the company that is being spoofed.
The vast majority of ATM transactions are conducted safely, without a hitch. There are crooks, however, who use ATMs as a means to defraud consumers.
A particularly ingenious method involves the scam artist inserting a plastic sleeve into the ATM card slot. He then waits for a customer to use the ATM. When the customer inserts his or her card into the machine and enters the PIN, the machine is unable to read the card and does not recognize the number. The card is caught inside the plastic sleeve. When the card isn’t returned, the customer assumes it was “eaten” by the machine and walks away. The scam artist retrieves the plastic sleeve out of the ATM, along with the person’s debit or credit card.
To avoid being taken advantage of while using an ATM:
Be proactive if your ATM transaction goes awry. If your card is stuck inside the machine, immediately notify the bank or your credit card company and ask them to cancel the card. If it is during business hours, go inside the bank and ask a bank representative to access the machine to retrieve your card.
Remember, be protective of your personal information and be proactive when you suspect something suspicious. That is the only way to stomp out credit frauds and avoid becoming a victim.
For additional tips on preventing identity theft or learning ways to get your credit report back in order if you have become a victim, contact our consumer credit counseling experts at Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions.