Unfortunately, scams are increasingly becoming a part of our daily lives. In 2018, Americans reported losing $1.48 billion to fraud last year, which was more than a 30 percent increase from the prior year.
Tactics for committing fraud change as technology develops. For decades, the easiest way to commit fraud was by calling them on the phone and convincing them to buy a product or even tricking people into giving away personal information to commit identity theft. Thankfully, the government has recently been able to enact limits on robocalls and telemarketers. However, organizations with nefarious intentions will simply adjust their tactics to make quick and easy cash.
There are many types of fraud, but most fraud occurs because a person is able to gain access to someone else’s personal information (Social Security Number, date of birth, etc.) and use it for his/her own financial benefit. The most commonly-reported fraud is using another person’s information to open a new credit card account in their name.
Even though it can feel insurmountable, these financial habits can help lower your risk of becoming a victim of fraud:
Check Your Card Activity Often
Don’t wait until the end of the month to review your credit and debit card transactions. It can be easy for your card transactions to be “out of sight, out of mind,” but letting suspicious charges go unnoticed is an easy way for people to commit fraud a few dollars at a time.
For example, one scam involves charging a small amount of money to your credit card in the hopes that the amount will be so small, the fraudulent charge will go unnoticed. Five dollars here and there can really start to rack up if charged across a million cards.
Consider adding an alert to your phone when your credit card is used to catch suspicious charges as they happen. Carter Bank & Trust customers can use Card Valet to receive notifications when their card is used, set parameters (i.e. dollar amounts, merchant categories, transaction types and geographic locations) and even turn off their debit card until they need to use it.
If you prefer to limit your notifications, Carter Bank & Trust customers can quickly and easily check their recent transactions on their smartphone through Carter On the Go. Just be sure to access your bank statements on a WiFi network that you trust.
Limit Your Mail
Even though technology has advanced to the point that hackers can get your personal information in seconds, sometimes it’s much easier to steal information the old way: going through your mail. Pre-approved credit card offers and bank statements are easy ways for criminals to misuse your personal information.
Limit the amount of mail you receive by asking your bank and credit card to not mail you statements. Accessing your credit card or bank account statements online is much more secure. If you bank with Carter Bank & Trust, you can sign up for eStatements. For each account you enroll by March 31, you’ll be entered to win $1,000!
Be Careful with Your Card
If you’ve ever traveled across the pond, you know that Europeans are much more careful about who they let handle their credit cards. Many of them would balk at the idea of handing your credit card to waiters or waitresses and letting them disappear for a few minutes with it. While we’re making strides to keep our cards closer to us, there are still opportunities where a criminal could swipe your card while you’re not paying attention.
Try to be careful when swiping your card at ATMs and gas stations. Some criminals are adding card skimmers to these machines; and when you swipe your card, they have all the information they need to use your card for themselves.
The world is changing – in many ways, for the better, and in some ways, for the worse. But it’s always smart to stay up to date with ways that you can be more careful with your finances. If you have any questions about fraud and ways that you can be safer using your debit card, the staff at Carter Bank & Trust are happy to advise you on how to take steps in the right direction.