Protect Yourself from Financial Frauds
Today, financial frauds seem to be everywhere from Ponzi schemes to "Nigerian letters." Here are some tips from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to help you avoid becoming a victim.
- Report any unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you detect them.
- Check your bills and bank account statements regularly. If you spot any unusual activity, contact your company immediately.
- Don't click on an email link to go to a bank or company website, as you may be misdirected to a fraudulent site. For safety, be sure to use your own bookmark or type in the name of the site. Look for the notation "https:" at the start of the web address, because it indicates security technology is being used to protect your information.
- Never wire money to someone you don't know, especially overseas. If it is a scam, there's almost no way to recover that money.
- Don't respond to online or phone messages that ask for personal or financial information.
- Cancel any credit cards or accounts that were opened without your permission, and notify the company immediately.
- Never respond to email requests to "verify" your bank account number or "update your account information."
- Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form.
- Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
- Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.
- Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
- If you suspect that you have been a victim of Identity Theft, perhaps because you submitted personal information in response to a suspicious, unsolicited e-mail or you see unauthorized charges on your credit card or account statement, immediately contact us and, if necessary, close existing accounts and open new ones. Also contact the police and request a copy of any police report or case number for later reference. In addition, call the major credit bureaus (Equifax at 800-525-6285, Experian at 888-397-3742 and TransUnion at 800-680-7289) to request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report.
You may access the FDIC Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/alerts for additional information and alerts.
Advance Fee Schemes
- Never pay money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value, such as a loan, lottery ticket, contract, investment, or gift.
- If the offer appears too good to be true, it probably is.
- Know the other person or company. Don't do business with strangers, especially if they insist on receiving cash.
- Make sure you fully understand any business agreement that you sign. If the terms are complex, have them reviewed by a competent attorney.
- Be careful of any investment opportunity that makes exaggerated earnings claims.
- Do your homework before selecting financial or investment advisors.
- Consult an unbiased third-party like a banking professional before making an investment.
- Hang up the phone if a caller says you must act now or the offer won’t be good.
- Don't accept a "‘free" gift, vacation or prize if you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.
- Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Always ask for written material about any offer or charity.