How do you help fight against fraud?
We’ve all heard heartbreaking stories of people losing their savings to scammers, or perhaps you’ve even fallen victim to one yourself. It seems that scammers are constantly finding creative ways to trick people into handing over their money or personal information.
To keep you and your loved ones financially secure, we’ve outlined five steps you can take to avoid scams and fight fraud.
5 Steps to Fight Fraud
Data breaches put our personal data at risk and can make us even more vulnerable to identity theft and related crimes. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of five proactive steps you can take to protect yourself from scammers and fight fraud (aside from boosting your passwords).
1. Stay informed
Sign up for the Scam Alert Network at oregonconsumer.gov to be notified of new scams, fraud and other consumer threats.
Through this free program, you’ll receive notifications about current security threats right in your email inbox. It’s quick, costs nothing and help keeps you informed.
2. Reduce telemarketing calls
Once you’ve been on the “Do Not Call Registry” for 31 days, telemarketers are legally not allowed to call you. And if they do, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). To get on the list, register online at donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.
Unfortunately, the do not call registry only applies to telemarketers, not scammers. If you want to try to block even more unwanted calls, talk to your service provider about options that they might have. The FTC also has more information on call blocking on their website.
3. Reduce junk mail
More junk mail = more personal information in the trash/recycling. Unless you’re really good at shredding it all – in which case please accept my virtual high five – and consider this a time-saving tip instead.
To stop junk mail from jamming up your mailbox, spend and afternoon calling the individual businesses and requesting they remove you from their mailing lists.
4. Order your free annual credit report
Did you know that each American is entitled to a free credit report each year? It’s a good idea to check in on your credit score at least annually to ensure all information is accurate and up to date. It also gives you an opportunity to double check that no accounts have been opened without your consent.
Do it now, and then set a reminder on your calendar to do it again in a year. To access your free report, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. If you’re curious about credit scores, what goes into them and why they matter, check out this post on our blog.
5. Be suspicious of any call from a government agency asking for money or information
According to the FTC, government imposter scams are top of the list of reported fraud. It’s easy to get panicked (I know from experience) when you hear that “the IRS is coming after you”, or “you’re going to lose your social security benefit for good.”
Staying calm and hanging up is your best bet when you get phone calls with these types of threats. Unfortunately, you can’t even trust caller ID anymore because scammers are able to spoof numbers so that they show up as something that might be familiar or local.
When in doubt, remember: government agencies won’t call you with threats, promises of or demands for money. You can always follow up with the real agency to find out if they were in fact trying to reach you.
Also, never pay with a gift card or wire transfer. If someone tells you that is the only way to pay, it’s likely a scam.
Resources for You
- To opt out of credit card/insurance offers call 1-888-8688 or go to optoutprescreen.com.
- To opt out of receiving unsolicited mail from other companies, register for Mail Preference Service at dmachoice.org (this service costs a small fee).
If you’d like more consumer protection information the following websites are great resources: