Helping to Keep You From Becoming a Victim of Fraud
With more and more of your time spent online, from work and education to shopping and recreation, it can start to feel like your entire life is just a click away. While convenient, this may also make you more open to becoming a victim of fraud. Anyone can have their identity stolen through no fault of their own, but there are some actions you can take to keep your finances safe.
Double-Check Your Transaction Activity
Your own reported activity is often the first sign that something is wrong. Take a closer look at your next bank statement to see if all of the purchases made in the last cycle were truly from you. The same goes for any of your credit cards. Many financial institutions allow you to see transaction logs from personal accounts in real time via the internet and mobile apps.
Speaking of credit cards, your annual credit report may be your best defense against account hijacking. These reports are free annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies. If you do the math, that suggests that you should get a report from one agency every four months.
Once acquired, carefully read each line to identify any discrepancies between anticipated spending and unknown transactions. If you’ve fallen behind on payments you were not aware you were on the hook for, it’s definitely worth a closer inspection. You can order a free annual credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com, or call (877) 322-8228.
To order your credit report, check out the national credit reporting agencies:
Or, you can get in contact with your major credit card company of choice:
Protecting Your Accounts and Personal Identity
Once you’ve established that your money is still your own, it’s time to set up some roadblocks in the way of would-be identity thieves. Set up alerts to display when your bank account is used, whether it’s you accessing your account, or someone else. Delete (or have your bank delete) the user names of former employees, so that you don’t have too many people carrying around your sensitive passwords. That being said, don’t carry passwords around at all! Memorize all your passwords and relevant social security numbers.
When banking online, take extra precautions. Be on the lookout for phishing emails that only want to steal your information via malicious spyware. Bank Michigan, or any reputable bank, will never send emails or call you regarding accessing personal information — we already have it from when you opened your account.
It’s best practice to use a secure computer for your banking tasks and avoid websites you are not familiar with. Remember, a secure, reliable transaction will include two features: a lock icon in the bottom strip of your browser and a URL whose beginning changes from “HTTP” to “HTTPS” on the page that asks for personal data.
Having a Plan is the First Step
Chances are, you may not find any malicious activity on your accounts that you were not already aware of. This is a golden opportunity to put up-to-date security software in place. Firewalls and other protective programs make it extremely difficult for hacking software to access your private data.
In the event that you do find yourself a victim of identity fraud, don’t panic. Over 2.8 million fraud reports were filed last year alone. If you spot fraudulent activity on one of your accounts, immediately cut off the flow of cash in whatever way is most relevant — freeze an account, or deactivate a card.
Law enforcement and financial institutions are already familiar with tactics and work together to stop scammers. If you find suspicious activity on your Bank Michigan account call (800) 466-2990 or (517) 592-3205.
If you think you might be the victim of a widespread scam, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov, or call (877) 382-4357. All complaints are stored in the Consumer Sentinel Network, which is a secure online database regularly accessed by hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the world.
Teaming Up With Bank Michigan to Keep You Safe
At Bank Michigan, we make customer security a top priority. Our goal is to better the community we serve, which includes providing businesses with simple, secure payment options. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help secure your dreams.