Emergency Preparedness Committtee: Fraud & Scam Prevention

We have discussed many aspects of Emergency Preparedness in our past articles. In addition to preparing for a host of natural disasters we would like to review some of the seemingly unseen disasters that we face everyday right under our noses.
With today’s technologies providing many benefits to enhancing our lives through communication, faster solutions to accessing information, shopping, banking, transportation, and the list goes on….
We find ourselves at increased risk of FRAUD & SCAMS at every turn.
One of the biggest avenues for fraud is the access of our personal information through the INTERNET. How many of us zip through our E-Mails to check-up on the latest and greatest deals from retailers, travel options, notifications from our credit cards and bank accounts and what we think are friends contacting us?
DON’T, EVER, EVER, click on an unfamiliar, unsolicited, or suspicious E-Mail. FIRST, check the senders E-Mail address and verify that it’s one you are familiar with. If you don’t recognize it from reliable sources, DELETE IT IMMEDIATELY!!
If you do open an E-Mail and it first appears to be legitimate, but then asks you to verify you account number, address, social security number, etc. then pour your cup of coffee or evening cocktail on the keyboard (just checking to see if you are taking this seriously). Make sure you are also using Internet security software that is updated regularly. Shop only on secure websites.
AVOID using a debit card when shopping online. Use STRONG passwords, NOT, believe it or not, 1234, your name, etc.
The DON’Ts list goes on. PLEASE Google fraud prevention tips and suggestions for your own enlightenment and protection.
How about ROBO calls that are unsolicited and tell you about “I have a deal you can’t pass up” or ask for money for a charity that is a scam, a contractor that says they want to give you a “free” estimate on a new roof or windows. AND, remember, the IRS NEVER calls you on the phone to ask for verification of personal information OR to tell you that you owe them money.
The next time you talk to your bank, CPA, attorney, credit card company, ASK them what precautions you should be taking to protect your account information and personal identity.
Trust me, they will open your ears with useful information and be happy to provide you with literature and suggestions.
Here’s just a sample list of DON’T, precautions to take, and information on how to be vigilant with your day to day activities on the internet, home AND cell phone, mailings, banking, credit cards, etc.
■ Shred anything with personal information on it. Use a crosscut or microcut shredder.
■ NEVER give your credit card number or personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call and trust the source.
■ When you are shopping or dining out, be aware of how salespeople or waiters handle you card.
■ ALWAYS examine EVERY line items on your credit card statements. Not sure of the charge, call the credit card company to verify the charge.
■ ALWAYS use a strong PIN #
■ Avoid ATM’s that are not connected to a bank or reputable business.
■ Photocopy and retain the contents of your wallet, both sides of each card (not a bad idea for your passport, too).
IF issues of FRAUD or SCAMS happen to you:
■ Report the crime to the police immediately and get a
copy of the police report.
■ Notify you bank immediately.
■ Call your credit card issuers immediately and follow up with a letter and the police report.
Even though you may take every possible precaution, identity theft, scams, fraud, can happen to you.
—Kent Wellbrock

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