Fraudsters have become increasingly skillful at getting people to share the information they need to commit fraud by posing as the government, a local business, a friend or family member, or a representative from your financial institution. Scammers may try to reach you by email, call or text message, or on social media platforms. If they are calling or texting, some scammers may even manipulate the Caller ID to make it look like the number is coming from a legitimate source (also known as spoofing). With their techniques becoming more savvy, how can you avoid becoming a victim of fraud? The best defense is to stay ahead. Follow these fraud prevention tips to help you stay one step ahead of fraud during the new year and beyond.
Know who you're doing business with
With any transaction you conduct, make sure you know who you're dealing with. Check with your state or local consumer protection agency and/or the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to verify the credibility of a seller, charity, company, or organization. Always be on your guard, especially if you're unfamiliar with a person or organization. If you receive a call or text, don't reply directly to that number as it could be a spoof. Always make sure you are calling or responding to the number found on the organizations verified website.
Make payments the safest way
Credit cards are the safest way for you to pay for purchases online. You can dispute the charges if you never get goods, services, or if the offer was misrepresented. Additionally, using a credit card for online purchases can limit the risk of scammers gaining access to your money because it's not linked to your checking or savings account like a debit card is.
Guard your personal information
It's become common place to receive spam calls, texts, emails, or messages, from fraudsters pretending to be from companies that you do business with or the government. Often times the message is urgent and claims to need your attention right away. They may state that they need to "verify" your personal information, that you owe a debt that needs to be paid now, that you've won a prize but need to give them information or pay "shipping" to claim it, etc. Use caution when providing personal and financial information to anyone. Never share your PIN, CVV code, Social Security Number (SSN), or login information with anyone. An institution that you already do business with will not contact you asking for account details and information that they already have.
Beware where you share
Be wary of unsolicited emails or messages
Unsolicited emails or personal messages are often fraudulent. The best approach to dealing with unsolicited emails or messages is to delete them or mark them as spam. Replying to an email or message, especially if you don't know the sender, may verify that yours is a working email and could result in even more unwanted messages from strangers.
Fully understand the offer and resist pressure
A legitimate seller will give you all the details you need to know about the products or services they offer, including, the total price, delivery time, refund and cancellation policies, and the terms of any warranty. If details are missing or the seller is unable to provide you with the necessary details that you need, it may be a sign of a scam. Additionally, you should be wary if you are put into a situation where you're pressured into making a decision right away. Legitimate businesses and charities are glad that you are considering doing business with them and will be happy to give you the time you need to make a decision. Always take the time to stop, research, and think.
Don't believe promises of easy money
Claims that you can earn money with little or no work, make money on an investment with little to no risk, won surprise cash, or can get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, is probably a scam. Often, offers that seem too good to be true, are actually too good to be true.
Monitor your accounts regularly and keep your contact information current
Review your paper or estatements, login Internet Banking, or use the Members First Credit Union of Florida mobile app to view your account activity and check your balance. You can also take control of your Members First debit card with the CardValet app or your Members First credit card with the SecurLOCK Equip app. Monitoring your accounts regularly will help you quickly spot errors or suspicious activity. Additionally, keeping your contact information current with Members First will ensure that we're able to swiftly notify you if we detect unusual activity on your account.
Check your credit reports
Regularly check your credit reports for errors or to make sure no new accounts were fraudulently open in your name. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each major credit bureau — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — once every twelve months. Staggering your requests from each bureau is a good way to help you monitor your credit throughout the year. To request a free copy of your credit report go to annualcreditreport.com.
Steps to Take If Fraud is Detected
If you think you're a victim of fraud or identity theft, act swiftly.
- Report the identity theft to Members First Credit Union of Florida immediately.
- Use your mobile device to turn your debit card off with the CardValet app or turn your credit card off with the SecurLOCK Equip app.
- Cancel your payment card(s) to prevent further fraud transactions.
- Balance your account for accuracy by looking at your statements or viewing your account activity on Internet Banking or our Mobile Banking app.
- Contact the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit file.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- File a police report and send a copy to your creditors.
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