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How to Outsmart a Fraudster

by Carol Marak
Hands on the Money

Frauds and scams have escalated. Here are a few tips I received from my bank that will help keep us aware of scams. The following note appeared in my email this morning and I hope you take precautions to remain safe.

“Carol, we’ve become aware of a widespread scam targeting bank customers nationwide, including ours. Please use caution when discussing your bank accounts over the phone as you could be chatting with a scammer, disguised as a Bank employee. Keep in mind, while we do make follow-up calls occasionally, we don’t call our customers out of the blue.”

Here are 4 ways you can outwit the scammer. (Edited by me.)

  • Call your bank and find out (in advance) what situations will THEY, the bank, call you. And ask what verifying question(s) they, the bank, asks when and if they do call. Then if and when you receive a call from someone identifying themselves as “your bank” DO NOT provide any additional account details.
  • Ask questions. Asking questions like “When’s the last time I called you?” may prompt the fraudster to hang up.
  • Deny requests for a one-time passcode.
  • Banks never call you and ask if they, the bank, can text you a one-time passcode to verify your account. These scammers will. Call your bank immediately if something feels suspicious.

How to Detect Fraud and Identity Theft

The sooner fraud is detected, the lower the financial impact. Often the victim is the first person to discover fraudulent activity. Follow these suggestions to recognize the warning signs of identity theft:

  • Monitor your accounts – Check your account activity frequently for anything unusual. View your online accounts to detect fraud earlier and contact your financial institution immediately if you see anything suspicious. Also, keep an eye on accounts that belong to your children, parents or other family members. If you suspect that any of your accounts with the financial institution to be compromised, please notify the bank immediately.
  • Use online alert tools and services – Whenever possible sign up for email or text alerts that notify you when certain events occur such as ordering checks or reissuing debit or credit cards. It’s also helpful to set up threshold alerts to notify you of low account balances or unusually high account transactions. Alerts like these can help signal fraudulent spending, so you can put a stop to it quickly.
  • Use a credit monitoring service – Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service that notifies you when changes are posted to your credit report. This is one of the fastest ways to find out if someone has opened new accounts in your name.

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