Whew, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve shared any food or financial wisdom! But have no fear, I’m back and bronzed. The sun tan really has no importance, but for me it is a symbol of summer being in full swing. And you know what else is in full swing? Fraud. That’s right. Sand, sun and fraud alerts.
Your bank and credit card company can only do so much to protect you from the fraudsters trying to attack your account balance. To help keep your money and private information SAFE, make sure you are doing your part, too.
Phishing is a common type of fraud where the bad guys attempt to retrieve personal information from their victims by posing as legitimate companies or agencies. Phishers will send an email or generate a browser pop-up with a bogus message asking the victim to update or verify information. Often times, a link will be provided. Needless to say, the link is just another trap. Don’t be a part of the 57% who answered these erroneous requests! If you ever receive an email or pop-up asking for private information, don’t respond! Instead, use contact information you know to be genuine and get in touch with the organization to confirm the request.
Phishers are looking to obtain personal information that will allow them to conduct fraud using your name, social security number or account balance. Other scammers just want to get straight to the money. Mail fraud is a common way of going about this. By use of snail mail, fraudsters will surprise recipients with a money order for “lottery winnings.” All you have to do to claim your fortunes is pay for the taxes and contest fees by sending them a money order! Be on the defense with these types of mailings. Have you entered a contest recently? Were you expecting payment in the mail? If not, contact your bank so they can verify and report the scam attempt.
You, too, can be an investigator of potential fraud. If you receive a request for money or information, take a good look at the email address, website and phone number attached to the request. When online shopping, review the site’s security features. And by all means, read the fine print— “free trials” are rarely free. Failing to read the fine print does not mean you can call these unexpected charges fraud.
Your financial privacy is not something to be relaxed about! It only takes a minute to do an internet search or phone book scan and confirm the legitimacy of the email, pop-up, letter or offer.
The moral of the story: don’t give money or information to just anybody. The Federal Trade Commission has put together a whole reference site surrounding the topic of phishing. Check it out at onguardonline.gov, and continue to read up on our Wingman updates. I promise there will be more blogging now that I’ve established a solid base tan.