It’s unfortunate one of the busiest “industries” has been financial scamming. You’ll want to know what to look for and how to defend yourself.
How widespread is financial fraud? In 2019, more than 3.2 million fraud cases were reported to the Federal Trade Commission, with identity theft being the most common, accounting for about one-fifth of the overall cases. And fraudulent new accounts — mortgages, student loans, car loans and credit cards — amounted to about $3.4 billion in 2018, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research.
To prevent yourself from being victimized, consider the following suggestions:
Watch out for unsecure websites. Make sure a website is secure before entering any payment or personal information. Look for sites that start with HTTPS, rather than those with just HTTP, which are not secure. But even a site with HTTPS can still be used by scammers, so if you don’t recognize the name of the company or group that’s requesting your information, do some research to make sure it’s legitimate.
Review your credit reports. To be sure nobody has opened new accounts under your name, try to review your credit reports at least once a year. You can get them for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Follow up on fraud. If you’ve been victimized, contact one of these credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) and place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit file. You might also want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your local law enforcement agency. And it’s a good idea to contact the fraud department of the financial companies where the thief has opened a fraudulent account.
Be alert for suspicious links. “Phishers” have gotten good at sending messages that appear they’re from reputable businesses. Examine these messages carefully, you can usually determine if there’s something off about them. For example, no legitimate business will tell you that you have to “correct your account” by providing additional information. If you do hit the link and it takes you to a third-party site, it’s probably bogus.
Resist “act now” offers. If you get an offer urging you to “act immediately” on an investment opportunity, discontinue the communication. No reputable financial advisor will ever try to force you to take such swift action.
Use your shredder. If you receive paper documents, be sure to shred them when they’re no longer needed.
You save and invest for years to help achieve your long-term goals. Don’t let any of your efforts be undone by financial fraudsters.
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by Nathan Lindeman, your local Edward Jones financial advisor.