How to protect your money from fraud and scams
In a world where money is primarily digital, the risks for fraud and scams are exponentially higher. Gone are the times when a front-facing fanny pack will do the trick. These days, you need a strategy to keep your money safe. Otherwise, you will likely be a victim of digital robbery.
There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to keeping your money safe. Everything from passwords to apps to digital viruses become relevant. Essentially, any way in which your money can be accessed is a potentially vulnerable situation you need to protect.
Ask yourself, how do I gain access to my money? Make a list. That's where you need to focus. Here are a few ideas based on common ways people's money can be hacked.
How strong is your password for your bank login? Does it include at least one number and one symbol? Did you avoid pet names, easily guessed sequences (like 123), and options like "password1"?
In today's world, we have a myriad of passwords. It's tough to keep track of them all, especially the really strong ones. But in order to thwart the scammers and fraudsters, you have to be diligent about creating really good passwords every few months. It's no longer okay to keep the same password for over a year.
If you are worried you will forget your passwords, write them down in a notebook that you keep on a bookshelf at home. Better yet, invest in a digital password storage system like Norton or LastPass.
When you go to buy a car, the dealer checks your credit. Fraudsters have no problem pretending to be you and claiming your credit as their own. The best way to prevent someone from taking out a loan in your name is to freeze your credit.
To freeze your credit, go to each of the major credit report companies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. You have to freeze your credit for each one. During the process, you will receive a password that you will have to enter in the future when you want to unfreeze your credit. It's very important that you keep track of this password, and that no one else can get access to it. (See passwords section above.)
You only need to unfreeze your credit when you are applying for a mortgage, buying a new car, renting a new apartment, etc. It comes up, but not that frequently. You can simply unfreeze your credit when you need to. Your default, however, should be to have your credit frozen. This will protect your credit and your money.
Remember that Nigerian prince email scam from a decade ago? He was going to deposit a large sum of money into your bank account, and you just needed to supply him with your bank account info. Yeah, scams are much more rampant now, and they are way less obvious too. Scammers are clever, so you have to constantly have your guard up.
Scammers are looking to steal your identity, your money, and your credit lines. They want to buy houses, take out loans, and apply for credit cards in your name so they don't have to be held responsible. When unemployment is high (like now) and people are desperate, scams pop up right and left.
Be aware anytime someone is asking for personal information about you, especially if you don't know the person well. Many people have suffered heartbreak when it comes to online dating scams. However, scams can come in the form of email, text, print mail, or internet pop up. The risk is everywhere!
You can protect yourself from scams by creating strong passwords, freezing your credit, and not clicking on links from unreliable sources. Some of the most common scams now involve phishing. This is when you get an email from something that seems legitimate, such as a notification from Netflix that your payment has been declined, but the source is actually a scammer. The key to not being a victim to this sort of scam is to never click on the links in these emails. If you are worried the email might be real and your payment has truly been declined, go directly to the Netflix website instead of clicking the link that was sent in the email. it's a good rule of thumb to not trust links sent to you.
No one is invested in keeping your money safe like you are. Therefore, you have to take it upon yourself to frequently check your credit, bank accounts, credit card statements, etc. The sooner you spot something fishy and report it, the better. You should never rely on others to protect your money.
Install antivirus software on your devices, including your phone. It's also important to update your devices as soon as updates come out. Those are often in response to vulnerabilities. more and more, our phones are being used as wallets, so you have to protect it like one.
You work hard for your money. Don't let anyone take it from you without a fight.