How to protect yourself from financial fraud

Financial fraud refers to any deceptive process designed to obtain assets or money through dishonest means.   This type of fraud can take many forms (i.e., phishing emails, identity theft, credit / debit card fraud, tax return fraud) and the losses can span from several hundred to several million dollars.

Financial fraud is a serious and growing problem.  Below are just a few of the steps you can take to ensure you (and your finances) stay protected.

Be vigilant

Stay alert and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity in your bank accounts or credit cards. You may also want to consider setting up alerts, as some credit card companies will allow you to set up text-message notifications. This will allow you to receive a text any time your card is charged.  Monitor your accounts regularly and report any suspicious activity to your bank or credit card company right away.

Use strong passwords

Use strong, unique passwords for all your financial accounts and change them every 90 days. Never share your passwords with anyone and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.  Why? Because if your password for your bank is compromised, and that’s the same password you use for your other financial accounts, all of your accounts will be at risk.

Be careful with your personal information

Never give out your personal information, such as your social security number or bank account information, to anyone you don’t trust. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages asking for your personal information.

Remember, the IRS will never call you by phone to demand you pay back taxes immediately (nor will they ask you to pay alleged back taxes with a prepaid debit card.)  Additionally, if you receive a call from someone claiming to be a law enforcement officer, who says that you have a warrant out for your arrest and you need to pay a fine, over the phone, with a prepaid debit card, to have the warrant recalled, this is also a scam.

Don’t click on suspicious links

Lastly, be wary of clicking on links in emails or messages from unknown sources. These could be phishing scams designed to trick you into giving away your personal information. If you get an email that looks like it’s from your bank, and that email is asking you to click on a link, be very, very suspicious.  If you have questions about the validity of the email, call the bank’s phone number (as listed on the back of your debit or credit card) and ask to speak with a customer service representative.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to protecting yourself from financial fraud. Staying vigilant will help reduce the likelihood that you’ll become a victim.

We can help. The experts at Hughes, Snell & Co., PA have years of experience in helping people just like you navigate situations just like this.  For more information on how we can help or to schedule a time to meet with one of our licensed tax professionals, call our office today to get started.