Fraud and How to Protect Yourself from It
When people think about fraud, they usually think about the big things like identity fraud, multi-million-dollar scandals that end up on NBC, or even some high-stakes Netflix documentary about a corporation scammed out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Although these circumstances do happen, and are extremely unfortunate, they do not take up much of the fraud that happens to people and businesses.
Fraud is defined as “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.” According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were 4.8 million fraud and identity theft reports received by the Federal Trade Commission last year. In Alabama alone, there were 17,376 cases filed. These cases are not limited to just one type of scam or scheme - there are many different types that scammers use to prey on their victims. Some examples include identity theft, healthcare fraud, internet fraud, and credit card fraud.
In most fraud cases, a scammer will request information (a credit card number, account number, SS number, etc.) from you, posing as someone legitimate. Scammers will pretend to be someone like your coworker or your friend in order to gain your trust. In some cases, scammers will even pose as IRS agents or bank employees claiming that you are late on a payment, or you owe them money. They’ll request your bank account or card information to gain access to your accounts and scam you.
There are many ways to protect yourself from being a victim of one of these awful fraud attacks. The FBI recommends to always be aware and cautious of what you share online and on social media. Scammers can guess passwords or answer security questions if you give away information like pet names, names of family members, schools attended, birthdays, etc.
Always look closely at email addresses and names when receiving any emails asking for sensitive information. You should also be wary if your requestor is pressuring you to act quickly or giving you a deadline. This is a major red flag when it comes to fraudsters. Call the supposed colleague or co-worker who is requesting any sensitive information from you in order to verify it is a legitimate request.
Setting up two-factor authentication for accounts that allow it is also a great idea – you will get notified on another device when there is a login attempt to one of your accounts. This can be a great way to stop hackers in their tracks and quickly change your login credentials.
Hopefully, through taking some of these precautions, you are able to prevent yourself or a loved one from getting scammed.