How to Protect Yourself From Fraud: A Refresher
In 2020, Iowans lost more than $17 million to fraud, according to a report from the Federal Trade Commission. That’s an increase of nearly 49% from 2019. Those figures only prove how important it is to stay vigilant and know how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
It is unlikely fraud will ever be completely eliminated. Fraudsters adjust their strategies every year and are always on the lookout for new methods to commit crimes. As technology advances, so do these criminal efforts.
How to Protect Yourself
Fraud can come in many forms — email, phone call, text message, direct mail, etc. — so knowing how to spot potential fraud is vital to prevent becoming a victim. Follow these tips to protect yourself.
- Be suspicious of any communication requesting you to provide personal information, especially if the communication attempts to induce panic or threaten you into making a hasty decision.
- Know how to spot phishing attacks. Cybercriminals know how to structure emails so they appear to come from legitimate or known sources. Carefully inspect any communication for misspellings or grammatical errors, which may indicate the email is fraudulent.
- Do not click on links or download attachments in suspicious emails. If you receive an email and are unsure if it is legitimate, contact the company that appears to have sent the communication to verify it. You should also hover your mouse cursor over a link to see if it points to a legitimate URL.
- Never give out personal information online or over the phone. Guard this information to keep cybercriminals from using it to steal your identity.
If You Think You’ve Been a Victim of Fraud
If you believe you are a victim of fraud, take the following steps.
- Report the fraud. Contact your bank to report the issue. They can help you review your accounts for fraudulent transactions and direct you on further steps you can take.
- Watch your accounts. Check your accounts frequently for transactions you don’t recognize. If you see any, report them to your bank immediately.
- Change your passwords. Update the passwords on your online accounts and activate two-factor authentication to give your accounts an extra layer of protection.
- Check your credit report. It’s good practice to check your credit report once a year to make sure everything is accurate. You can obtain your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com.