Because of her scam and fraud awareness, Jen Bean, AARP’s Fraud Watch Facebook page manager, checks her credit card statement regularly.
Jen detected that her latest statement had two identical charges of $19.95 for Transunion monitoring services. She got outraged when she thought that Transunion had started charging and double billed her for what was supposed to be free.
She immediately called the toll-free number listed on the charge. The nice woman on the other end asked to verify her personal information, which she did.
Realizing that she had not followed her advice and given her personal information to a total stranger over the phone, here is what Jen should have done:
• Confirm that the number associated with the Transunion charges is legitimate by checking the company’s website under Credit Dispute Consumer Support.
•Hang up the phone and call the customer service number on the back of her credit card and report the two unauthorized charges.
Identity theft can result from instances like this and is a serious crime where your personal information — name, date of birth, driver’s license or Social Security number — has been stolen by someone who intends to commit fraud in your name.
If this happens, they might use your name in a legal matter, leaving you tainted when they default. According to the Internal Revenue Service, 2.7 million people were a victim of identity theft in 2014.
Data breaches occur when personal information has been used or viewed by a person without your authorization. These breaches can create a severe financial loss for consumers and business and, therefore, it’s crucial to understand how to protect you.
When it comes to significant data breaches, one of the best identity protection habits is to change your passwords regularly. Data breaches seldom expose credit card information but are not the same for email addresses and passwords according to TransUnion Equifax.
Set firm, complex passwords that are difficult to hack, but easy enough for you. Remember that the complexity of any password predicts the level of protection it provides. A password like this 12345678 may be secure for you, but let us mix it up to make it better: 75218436.
Now if you throw in an upper and lower case alphabet and a special symbol, you have a winning combination that 7$521As8436 will likely provide a higher level of protection than the former.
Call the Pima County Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers with information about scams and frauds. To contact the Scam Squad directly, 9 am to noon Monday through Friday, call (520) 351-6715, or email:[email protected] To report suspicious activity or a particular incident of fraud (which is a scaminvolving a loss of money) call (520) 351-4900. If you are interested in becoming a Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteer, please email [email protected] an application or call (520) 351-6746.