12 Tips to Avoid Fraud – ‘Tis the Season to Be Cautious
Remember last month when I told you that hubby couldn’t buy me a gift for my birthday? Well after checking his bank statement a few days earlier, he realized that there had been some fraudulent charges made against his account. Luckily, they weren’t excessive, but after contacting the bank his debit card was immediately suspended, oh by the way, there’s a charge for a replacement, which I think is unfair but that’s another story for another Money Monday.
Anywho, I’m glad that he had finally heeded my warning in making sure to check his statements as well as any credit card or medical bills that were received in the mail. There are so many ways for scammers to get you and it doesn’t just happen during the busy holiday season.
- Install a lockable mailbox to reduce mail theft.
Limit the number of credit cards you have.
Reconcile your check and credit card statements as soon as possible, and immediately challenge any purchases that you did not make.
Scrutinize your utility and subscription bills to make sure the charges are yours.
Keep a list of all your credit and bank accounts in a secure place so you can quickly call the issuers to inform them about missing or stolen cards. Or make a copy front and back of your cards with the numbers to customer service and fraud departments.
Do not toss pre-approved credit offers in your trash or recycling bin without first tearing them into small pieces or shredding them. Dumpster divers can use these offers to order credit cards in your name and mail them to their address. Always do the same with other sensitive information, such as credit card receipts and phone bills.
Avoid credit repair scams. If you are tempted to contact a credit repair company for help, use considerable caution. The FTC and a number of state attorney generals have sued credit repair companies for false promises to remove bad information from credit reports. Only inaccurate information may be removed from your credit report; negative information that is accurate (such as a bankruptcy filing or a defaulted loan) will stay on your credit report as long as governing laws allow.
- Never give any credit card, bank or Social Security information to anyone by telephone unless you can positively verify that the call is legitimate.
- Minimize exposure of your Social Security and credit card numbers. If the numbers are requested for check-cashing purposes, ask if the business has alternative options, such as a check-cashing card.
- Do not have your bank send your new checks to your home address. Tell the bank that you prefer to pick them up.
- Destroy all checks immediately after you close a checking account. Destroy or keep in a secure place any courtesy checks that your bank or credit card company sends to you.
- Do not allow your financial institution to print your Social Security Number on your personal checks. I remember when your social security numbers were not only printed on your checks but also on your driver’s license as well. Times sure have changed!
Check www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork if you are concerned about an organization that doesn’t sound legitimate and call 877-908-3360 which is the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center.
Better Safe than Sorry!
Stay Blessed ~ No Stress in 2014!