3 ways to spot and protect against fraud

04/29/14 by Andrea Arden

Identity theft is running rampant, whether it comes in the form of hackers going toe to toe with retailers and taking liberties with your credit card numbers or so called emails that look as thought they're totally legitimate.
Fraud is all around you, the consumer, and just when retailers or banks believe they've figured out how to stop hackers or identity thieves, that group of individuals already are working on a new scam. That revelation is truly what makes identity theft and fraud such a scary proposition, which puts the onus on shoppers, customers and the population as a whole to educate themselves on how to spot a phony proposition when not to opt for a credit card in place of your debit card.
As some have learned the hard way, stopping identity thieves and those who specialize in scamming innocent individuals isn't easy, nor is anything truly full proof. But that doesn't mean being more mindful of how you spend and store won't at least remedy the problem.

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1. Email fraud: This one often gives the masses more issue than they'd care to admit. Fake emails often are so detail oriented and nearly flawless that even the most keen and mindful of people clicking now and regretting later. Some of the more common companies that battle email fraud are the likes of Paypal, eBay and Craigslist. What you want to look for when it comes to emails and whether they're legit or not is poor grammar, spelling or taking the time to compare emails if you believe you've received one that isn't from who they say. Also, most of the aforementioned companies and others like them make it a point to tell you on their respective web sites exactly what their emails will say or not say, such as telling consumers that they'll never ask you for a bank account or phone number. Emails that ask you for those are easily flagged as fake. Craigslist especially is always good for fraud and scam, given the nature of this sales and services open forum. If you're selling something, be prepared for plenty of stories from prospective buyers that are clearly not real. For example, if someone from Craigslist tells you they'd love to buy your dining room table, but they'll have to wire you money and send movers to pick it up, and they'll need your address, etc., that's a sure fire sign that you're on the cusp of getting scammed.
2. The separate card: This idea isn't so much as solution as it simply makes life a lot easier for you if you find yourself in the midst of a full scale data breach. The logic behind having a credit card that you use for all of your online purchases is simple and centers on the ability to track purchases in one spot, rather than decipher which card you used for a particular purchase. A good rule of thumb always is to never use your debit card when buying online because it is attached to your checking or savings account. That's your money, and it's a lot more stressful to attempt to retrieve it, rather than credit.
3. Not so hot spot: It's always mind numbing and truly amazing when you see someone doing an online banking transfer on their cell phone or tablet network or, worse yet, using an open network to pay a credit card bill or look up important information. You should always secure your wireless network if you're going to be doing something important. That password might be the difference between protecting your banking and identity versus leaving that pertinent information out in the open for all to see.
Even implementing a few tips takes a little more power out of the hands of hackers and puts it in yours. Anyone who makes it a point to steal identities is always going to be thinking about another way to develop and enact some sort of scam, but that doesn't mean you have to lie down and let them do whatever they want without at least some sort of fight.

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