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Financial Education

Security & Fraud Prevention

7 Simple Steps to Protect Your Finances From Fraud

You work hard for your money, so be sure your efforts pay off for you — and not for some scam artist who wants to steal from you. Fraud takes many forms, and swindlers are constantly coming up with new scams to separate you from your money. It pays to take precautions that can help keep your and your family’s finances safe.
1. Know who you’re dealing with. Don’t buy from, share sensitive information with or donate to organizations you’re not familiar with unless you’ve checked them out first. Check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau to see if the organization is credible.

2. Safeguard your personal information. Crooks pretending to be from a legitimate company may call or email you claiming they need to verify your personal information. Never give your Social Security, bank account or credit card number over the phone unless you initiated the call and are certain who you’re dealing with. Never send sensitive information by regular email, which is inherently insecure. (It’s OK to send personal information by encrypted email to a trustworthy recipient, such as your financial institution’s secure email.)

3. Check for fraud regularly. Review your financial account statements as soon as they arrive to be sure there are no unauthorized transactions listed. Also, check your credit report periodically to look for accounts you didn’t open or any other suspicious activity. You can order a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — once every 12 months.

4. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t believe promises of easy money. If someone claims you can earn money with little or no work or make a lot of money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. The same is true of offers for a loan or credit card, even if you have a bad credit rating.

5. Get full details on any offer. A legitimate business will give you all the relevant details of an offer, including complete description of the products or services, full price, delivery time, policies on refunds and cancellations, and terms of any warranty. Read the fine print, and if any important information is missing, ask to see it before you make a buying decision.

6. Check for security online. Before entering credit card or other sensitive information on a website, verify that the transaction will be encrypted. On a secure website, you should see “https” at the beginning of the address bar. Another sign of a secure site is a padlock icon.

7. Visit our Security CenterThere, you can learn about the latest scams and how to protect yourself. You can also learn how to set up online banking alerts so you’re notified when your balance drops to a certain threshold, when your password is changed or when a transfer is made out of one of your accounts. You can also download Trusteer Rapport to protect your computer from phishing and financial viruses that target your bank account and specifically evade your antivirus software.