10 ways to protect yourself from fraud - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

10 ways to protect yourself from fraud


In 2016, over 15 million Americans had their information stolen and used for financial fraud. Identity thieves stole a whopping $16 billion, nearly a billion dollars more than in 2015.

This information comes from the 2017 Identity Fraud Study and reveals that identity theft jumped 16% from 2015 to 2016. Those numbers are worrisome, but there are ways you can help protect yourself and minimize your fraud risk. 

If you want to protect your financial identity and assets, make sure to follow these 10 tips to keep your information and money safe from fraudsters.

1. Set account alerts: It’s simple and easy to set up alerts inside Online Banking. You can customize your alerts depending on your spending habits, allowing you to get alerts on anything that may be out of the ordinary.

2. Enable debit card control: Card fraud also happens when you lose your card; protect yourself from this situation by turning Debit Card Control on inside Online Banking. This tool allows you to set when, where, and how your card can be used, plus you can turn your card on and off at anytime. 

3. Be wary on social media: Social media scams are a huge industry for fraudsters. Don’t accept friend requests from strangers, never send personal information or money, and don’t get caught up in “fast money” schemes. If you receive a friend request from someone who is already on your friends list, confirm through phone or in person. Fake accounts of your friends is one major way fraudsters access your information. 

4. Use different passwords: It can be hard to think up so many different passwords, but it is worth it. Make sure they are all very different and not just variations on the same word or phrase. If someone were to discover your password for one account, it keeps all of your other accounts and information protected if you use vastly different passwords. 

Related article: A Simple Way to Keep Your Accounts Safe   

5. Protect your checks: Treat your checks just like any other confidential personal information or financial asset. Don’t keep them out in the open in your home or in your car. Often times people have their information compromised by someone they know, so always keep your checks tucked away in a safe spot. 

6. Use credit card control: Keep tabs on your credit card by setting up Credit Card Control in Online Banking. You can set alerts and even block certain transaction types to protect your card from fraud.  

7. Change passwords frequently: It’s recommended to change your passwords every 3 months. This keeps your accounts safe in case someone has been trying to hack into them or if someone happens to find your password. Remember: try not to write your password down in case it falls into the wrong hands. 

8. Set ATM alerts: Most ATMs have pre-set limits for cash withdrawals, but setting up ATM alerts will give you an added layer of protection. ATM alerts will text or email you when money is withdrawn from your account at any ATM. It’s an easy way to stay on top of your cash withdrawals and keep alert.

9. Monitor email accounts: At least once a week, log into all of your email accounts and scan your inbox and outbox. If anything looks strange or you can’t log into your account, contact the email provider ASAP. A huge amount of personal information can be stored or hacked into through email, so always keep a watchful eye on your accounts, even ones you don’t use often.

Read next: 4 Ways to Spot a Fraudulent Email

10. Log into Online Banking frequently: Not all fraud happens through huge transactions. Log into Online Banking often and review all of your accounts. If you see anything that doesn’t make sense, contact your financial institution immediately. 

By following the ten tips above, you’ll be able to better protect your information from fraud and possibly stop it in its tracks. As always, be aware and watchful with all of your accounts and information. Always report something that is incorrect or seems suspicious, it could help stop a fraudster. 

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