Tips to Help Protect Yourself from Fraud

September 27th, 2019

You wouldn’t leave your cash or credit cards out in public for anyone to use, would you? These days you need to protect yourself and your money from thieves and hackers in all you do. The smarter technology becomes, the savvier thieves are becoming as well.

The amount of credit card numbers being exposed to fraud totaled $14.2 million in 2017. That’s an astounding 88% increase from the year before. Also worth noting, Michigan has the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft in the nation.

While these figures can seem overwhelming, don’t let them discourage you from being proactive about protecting yourself from fraud. We’ll walk you through two popular types of fraud and what you can do to safeguard your identity and your money.

ATM Skimming

ATM skimming occurs when fraudsters place a device on the card reader part of an ATM or other card machines like at a gas station. The skimmer will record your credit card information while a small nearby camera will record your PIN.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Inspect the ATM or card machine. The skimmer will usually vary in color from the actual machine. You can also jiggle the card reader area to see if it’s part of the machine.
  • Hide your PIN. Cover the keypad when entering your PIN. Or pretend to hit extra buttons in addition to your PIN to throw thieves off your actual code. It may seem like you’re being overly cautious, but you’re better off playing it safe.
  • Check your account. Whether you review your monthly statements or go online and check your account, do so frequently and thoroughly. Nobody knows your purchases better than you do, meaning you’ll be able to find fraudulent charges that much sooner. Keep in mind, you have 60 days from your last statement to dispute any charges.
  • Use technology to help. You can set up e-alerts using WWFCU’s online banking. E-Alerts can be set up using any dollar amount you choose. For example, if you set it to $50, you’ll get a message whenever there’s a charge for $50 or more. WWFCU also offers CardNav which lets you manage how, when and where your card is used.
  • Be picky about your ATMs. Although it’s tempting to use ATMs at restaurants and bars or very public places like concerts or football games – don’t do it! These types of ATMs can be the most attractive to fraudsters wanting to steal your credit card information.
Compromised Cards

A compromised card is one that’s at risk of being used fraudulently. This potential fraud can be due to computer theft, network intrusion and other suspicious activity such as all of the recent big store security breaches. It’s important to keep in mind that just because your account hasn’t been compromised yet due to one of these events, it doesn’t mean the fraudsters won’t eventually use it.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Shop using trusted websites. Sure, there are no-name online stores out there that have great prices on what you need, but don’t fall for it. Stick with larger, well-known online retailers when shopping online.
  • Monitor accounts. As with skimmers, keeping a close watch to your accounts online or your monthly statements will help you spot fraudulent changes.
  • Replace compromised cards. If you find out you’ve been part of a scam or larger security breach, don’t wait for the fraudsters to find you. Take action and replace your card ASAP.
  • Shred documents. There’s a reason paper shredders exist – to help you protect valuable information like account numbers, etc. Shred any sensitive documents so they won’t get in the hands of thieves.
  • Review all receipts before signing. Periodically, retailers and restaurants will have a bad apple. Before signing a receipt, review it to make sure the correct items and totals are on it.
  • Create strong passwords. We know, you already have too many passwords as it is. Don’t let that stop you from creating complex passwords. Also, don’t reuse passwords between various accounts, it’s basically opening a door to identity theft.

Don’t let the bad guys get your money. You’ve worked hard for it, so work just as hard to protect it. We promise, you’ll be happy you did!

WWFCU members can get FREE ID theft protection. Click here to find out how or call a Member Service Specialist at 734-721-5700.

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