Protect Yourself from Fraud

Unfortunately, fraud occurs every day. Make sure you're not a victim

There's more and more fraud out there. Identity thieves have figured out all sorts of ways to take advantage of computerized information. And if you're not careful, you could easily find yourself a victim.

Even the most scrupulous individual -- the one shredding all personal documents and refusing to shop online -- can become a victim of fraud. That's why it's so important to be aware of common types of fraud and how to spot it.

1. Online

The computer is the most notorious source of schemes, and with good reason: it's where people remain the most gullible. Criminals are very brave when they don't have to see your face and there's little risk of people finding out who they are.

Keep yourself posted on common phishing schemes. Never click on anything if you don't know the sender -- and sometimes even if you do.

For example, you get a message from Facebook with a link included. You click on it because it came from a "friend". Now it's a phishing virus that has been forwarded to all of "your friends". Steer clear of opening anything that sounds unclear or unfamiliar. At the very least, call or email your "friend" directly before opening anything suspicious.

2. Telephone

The phone is the second most popular source of fraud and scamming. It's common for people to call pretending to be from your bank or another source of authority. They will often have personal information about you, possibly even account numbers, and they'll want you to give them more.

This is part of a common bank phishing scam. Deal with these people by taking their name and number and promising to call them back in five minutes. Then call the organization directly (not the number they gave you) and ask for the individual by name. If you get connected, the call was legitimate. If not, the organization needs to know that someone's contacting their customers.

3. In person

Be very careful about handing your credit or even debit card to tellers at stores. Don't let waitresses walk off with your cards. Keep an eye on these people: it's a sad fact that they are just as likely to commit fraud as a faceless entity on the computer.

Fraud occurs in some of the most common areas of your life. Do not become a victim by using the resources surrounding you. Stay informed, alert and cautious about different types of fraud occurring around you.

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