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Protect Yourself against Financial Fraud

Aug 11, 2008
Although advances in technology have made life easier for you, they have also increased the chances of you becoming the victim of financial fraud and identity theft. Many people find themselves in financial difficulties through no fault of their own when someone steals their identity and uses their financial information to obtain loans and leave the person to pay for them. You have to be extremely careful about where and to whom you give your credit card information because it could become public knowledge and thus an unscrupulous person could gain from it.

Credit card companies are always sending out promotional material with a pre-approved credit card. All you have to do to be able to use the card is to sign the form and send it back to the company. If you are not interested in this offer, make sure you shred the card and the information so that no one else can use it. In many landfills, there are people who do go through the trash to find cans and bottles that they can return for the deposit. If through the process of going through your trash, they find such an offer letter that has not been torn, they can easily sign your name, change the address and get a credit card in your name that they use and you are responsible for. Do not throw any bank statements, credit card statements or any information related to your finances in the trash without shredding it first. Even the account number can give someone else access to your account.

You are entitled to have a free copy of your credit report once a year. It is important that you take advantage of this so that you know what information your credit report contains about you. Scrutinize it carefully to make sure that all the items listed on the report do in fact apply to you. This is one way you can be sure that you are not a victim of financial fraud. If you see an item that you know for sure is not an account that you hold, you should contact the credit agency immediately and start proceedings to have the information corrected. It is too late to find out that there are inaccuracies on your report when you are turned down for a loan because of negative items that you did not know existed.

When you shop online or over the phone, you have to be extremely careful about giving out your credit card information. Before you enter your credit card information online, you must check to make sure that it is a secure site. Read the privacy policy of the site to make sure that any information you provide will not be sold or given to a third party. You also have to ensure that when you do give out your credit card information over the phone that the company you are dealing with is legitimate.

The Internet is loaded with phishing scams. These are emails you receive that seemingly come from your bank asking you to update your information. You may receive an email saying that your account is locked and until you perform certain actions, you will not be able to continue using the account. If you bank online, log onto your account immediately to see if there are any inaccuracies. If not report the email to the banking authorities. If you use an offshore account, such as Paypal, you should check your account regularly to make sure that there have not been any unauthorized deductions or deposits. Some people randomly select addresses and make small deposits just to see if such an account exists. If this is so for you, you need to take steps to have the situation investigated.

When you use a shared computer to do any of your banking, never save your password on the computer. Anyone can then use that computer and retrieve your information leaving you open to financial fraud and theft. When you use an ATM machine or use your debit card at a store, always make sure that you enter your PIN so that others around you cannot see the numbers you enter. If they can detect the number and there is a chance that you forget to take the card, then this person can then take all the money out of your account or at least up to the daily limit. By the time you discover your card has been lost, it may be too late and you money may be all gone.

Fraudsters have various ways of obtaining information about a person to gain access to his/her finances. One such scam is by telephone. You may receive a phone call telling you that you have won a trip and you have to press 9 to get more information. When you press 9, you do not receive any information but you have opened yourself up to financial fraud because the callers have access to your telephone number that they can use for long-distance calling. You do not even realize it until your receive your statement in the mail. If you receive any unwanted telephone calls, hang up immediately and never follow the instructions.
About the Author
Peter Kenny has been writing financial articles for 10 years and is a writer for The Thrifty Scot, please visit us at Unsecured Loans and Remortgage
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