Avoid personal fraud with these 3 easy tips

To say personal fraud and identity theft are a problem is a little like saying the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground. In fact, an article by CNBC stated that U.S. consumers lost $56 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) last year to scammers, skimmers, and various other fraudulent actors.

Cringeworthy numbers like that make avoiding fraud seem almost hopeless. Still, if you are diligent and careful, you can avoid being part of that statistic. Here are five easy tips that will help.

Watch your cards and use cash

Chip technology has indeed reduced the chance of your card being skimmed at an ATM or fuel pump. But it didn’t eliminate it.

The “build a better mouse” syndrome in the skimming community is real, and fraud perpetrators can still use these devices to get your info.

At ATM’s the safest bet is to use your bank’s ATM whenever possible. Make sure it has a security camera and isn’t in an isolated location. For fuel, it’s just easier to walk in and pay with cash. That completely eliminates skimming!

It’s not a bad idea at restaurants, either. Once your card is out of sight, it’s impossible to keep a bartender or waitress from getting your information.

Don’t bank on WiFi

Who doesn’t love free public WiFi? It’s so convenient! But fraudsters love it too because the security is easy to breach. So, if you don’t want someone to see your bank account, use a secure internet connection.

Keep tabs on your mail

By mail, we mean both electronic and good old snail mail. Scammers love to perpetrate fraud via email. So if you receive an email notification from your bank asking for any type of personal or account information, stop!

Call the bank, tell them what is happening and take their advice.

The same thing goes for your physical mail. Invest in a good shredder and get rid of credit card offers and bank statements someone might use to try and glean your personal information.

Be careful on the phone

Scammers love to work through your phone when they aren’t trying to get at you through the mail. Don’t click on links in text messages from people you don’t know, or for that matter, even people you do. It’s easy for fraudsters to imitate a friend.

As for phone calls, it’s a little like email. If someone is trying to get personal information from you, just hang up. Often they will use scare tactics, like saying your bank account has been compromised and they can help.

Just hang up.

Monitor your bank accounts

These days, it’s easy to monitor bank accounts in real-time. So check yours a few times a day for suspicious activity. Also, many banks will set text alerts for large withdrawals or deposits. These are very convenient for making sure no one has gotten your information.

While fraud is a big problem in America, you don’t have to be a victim. Avoiding scammers is really about taking a few suitable precautions. So, set up alerts, keep some cash handy, and keep your information safe.