Money Matters: 4 tips to avoid financial fraud
We all have experienced it: an unwanted spam text or call asking you to send your credit card information over as soon as possible or you’ll get in trouble with the law. With 2.4 million fraud reports to the Consumer Sentinel Network in 2022, it is easier than ever to fall victim to one of these devastating scams.
It’s hard to blame anyone for thinking they need to submit their information, as scammers can be quite convincing and are constantly adapting and becoming more innovative in their schemes. To safeguard your financial well-being, we all need to stay on top of their elaborate tactics. Let’s go over why it’s crucial to keep track of your experiences, who you should be disclosing personal information to, how to be smart online and what you should do before investing.
Be aware of your expenses
We all want to make sure our finances are secure, especially in this economy. To ensure money isn’t unexpectedly being transferred out of your banking accounts, regularly check that all transactions were made by you. Try to check your accounts at least one or two times a week. Being vigilant can save you a lot of money.
If you do end up experiencing fraud, you can always contact your bank to see if it will reimburse you. They may not be able to, depending on the scenario, but it never hurts to ask. If you are on the hunt for a new bank or credit union, it’s wise to ask them beforehand what their fraud policy is.
Don’t disclose personal information
As financial fraud is on the rise, it’s important to be mindful of who you should be sharing your personal information with. Scammers have become creative over the last couple of years. Some have learned they need to play into emotions, such as pretending to be a family member, while others play the number game. They will send the same text to multiple people asking for banking information hoping that one person falls into their trap. It’s important to remember that your bank will never contact you asking for personal information.
Some key indicators that you might be on the verge of being scammed include the following:
- You are contacted unexpectedly.
- You are told you need to act immediately.
- Payment is requested in abnormal ways (gift cards, Bitcoin or digital currency).
If you receive one of these calls or texts and aren’t quite sure if it is real, hang up and call your bank’s main phone for more clarity.
Be smart online
In this digital age, there are numerous opportunities for others to take advantage of you financially. Keep your finances safe by frequently updating your software and browsers so you can make certain you have the latest protection. Be wary of using public Wi-Fi and computers, especially for any personal transactions. Lastly, change your passwords often.
Utilize these simple guidelines to confirm your password is strong:
- Use a new password for each account.
- Make it at least 12 characters long.
- Mix in capital letters, numbers and symbols.
- Avoid well-known facts about you that people can glean from social media (name, birthdate, pet’s name or favorite band or sports team).
If you do happen to notice something suspicious, contact your bank immediately and update all of your passwords.
Investigate when investing
We are always told to invest our hard-earned money wisely, so we can make more, but if it’s fraud, we can end up in a very unpleasant situation. That’s why it’s a good rule of thumb to do a bit of research before you invest. Some popular scam opportunities you might come across include the following:
- Ponzi schemes.
- Pump and dump.
- Pyramid schemes.
With the right knowledge, you can make wise decisions when a potential scammer is trying to get you to act fast. Be aware of the red flags and consistently stay up to date with the latest tactics. Regularly checking your bank statements, keeping your personal information to yourself, updating your browsers and passwords and researching your investments can make a world of difference when it comes to fraud.
Lindsey Certonio is a project manager at Stage Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency based in Provo.