You’d assume that crooks would take a break from their typical activities during a pandemic. However, financial fraud has been pervasive over the last two years, and increased stimulus funding and other help programs have only facilitated criminal activity.
According to recent research from SEON Technologies, over 465,000 instances of financial fraud in the United States in 2020. This equated to a loss of $7,076 per victim on average.
If you wish to prevent being a victim of financial fraud, there are several precautions you should take. Here are a few to get you started.
Be aware of the appearance of fraud.
Have you ever received an unexpected email or text message instructing you to click a link to claim a cash prize?
The link is false — or, more precisely, the link will work but will direct you to a site that requests personal financial information that a criminal may use against you, such as your bank account data.
As a general guideline, never reply to unsolicited phone contact, email, or text message requesting confirmation of or entry of personal information.
Additionally, you should be aware that institutions such as the IRS and the Social Security Administration will not contact, text, or email you out of the blue; thus, if you receive correspondence along those lines, do not provide any information about yourself.
Additionally, you’ll want to exercise caution with your credit cards. Occasionally, a criminal will send you a message purporting to be from your credit card company verifying a charge. A safe bet is to contact the number on the back of your card to confirm the request’s legitimacy.
Securely destroy financial documents.
Do those monthly statements do your bank or credit card company sends you? They might provide an opportunity for a criminal to have a field day if they fall into the wrong hands.
That is why investing in a shredder is one of the wisest decisions. For less than $50 (give or take), you can install a shredder in a convenient location in your house and shred papers containing personal information, rather than discarding them in the trash and risking them getting into the wrong hands.
Monitor your credit report
Each of the three main credit reporting bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — must provide you with a free copy of your credit report once a year. It’s good to check your credit report every four months, as this might thwart a thief.
Assume you visit your credit record and discover a credit card application you never made. Perhaps a criminal just created that account and is now waiting to utilize it — slap you with the cost.
However, if you report it promptly, you may be able to apprehend the criminal before he can rack up charges.
Financial fraud has not diminished significantly since the epidemic began. If anything, it has become progressively worse. And, regrettably, it may be rather expensive. You may safeguard yourself against fraud and purchase some much-needed peace of mind by following these measures.