Posts in Category: protect yourself

What Is Identity Theft? 

By Federal Trade Commission
March 30, 2016 Categories: protect yourself

Five Ways to Protect Yourself in Five Minutes 

March 08, 2013 Categories: protect yourself tips

A recent article by Matt Brownwell on highlighted Five Ways Consumers Can Protect Themselves in Five Minutes. The article was part of Consumer Protection Week, when a group of nonprofits and government agencies come together to highlight critical issues ranging from identity theft to dodgy debt collector practices.

According to the article, most consumer protection tips are reactive, but there are proactive steps you can take to protect yourself as a consumer.

Here are the five things you can do in five minutes to help protect yourself:

  1. Turn on Two-Step Verification on Your Email -- Email is in many ways your most important account. When you forget a password to one of your other accounts, the password reset link will be sent to your email. If someone takes over your email, they can reset all the passwords to your other accounts and take them over. Fortunately, email providers like Gmail now offer what's known as two-step verification. Enabling this feature means that if someone tries to access your email account from a different computer than you usually use, they'll need more than just your password—they'll also need a second one-time password that's sent to your mobile phone. The article recommends putting two-step verification in place for both your email and your financial accounts.
  2. Get on the Do-Not-Call List -- You can register up to three phone numbers in less than a minute at or by calling 888-382-1222. These three numbers include your cell phone and do not have to be renewed unless you get a new phone number. If you get an unsolicited phone call offering to add your number to the registry for a fee, it is actually a scammer. The government doesn't allow private companies to register people for the list, and registration is FREE.
  3. Get a Free Credit Report -- According to the FTC, 42 million U.S. consumers have errors on their credit reports they don't know about. Those errors can lower your score, reduce your eligibility for loans and credit cards, and cost you a good chunk of change on a home loan. You can't get rid of those errors until you know about them. Everyone is eligible for a free credit report once a year, to access your FREE credit report visit The article recommends that checking your report once a year isn't enough as you will want to dispute errors or erroneous items as quickly as possible. "We think checking your credit report once a year, an oft-recommended interval, is insufficient for most people," says Erik Larson of NextAdvisor, a site that reviews credit cards, Internet providers and other consumer services. "An identity thief can wreak havoc on your credit in a matter of days, much less an entire year." Larson recommends signing up for a credit-monitoring service, many of which provide identity theft protection and monthly updates on your credit score. As an alternative to a monitoring service, you can space out the three free credit reports you receive (one from each bureau), ordering one free report every four months. Not quite as proactive as a monitoring service, but still free.
  4. Set Up Alerts on Your Credit Union/Bank Accounts -- If there's a fraudulent charge on your bank account or credit card, you have 60 days to spot it and report it. According to the article, consumers are recommended to set up alerts on their credit union or bank accounts and credit cards to notify them of unexpected charges. Setting up custom alerts allows you to use your knowledge of your own spending habits to provide an extra layer of protection. For instance, if you never put more than $200 on your debit card, you can get a text or email in the event of any debit card charge over that amount. If you're conscientious about keeping account balances over a certain amount, you can set up an alert to trigger any time your balance falls below that level.
  5. Set Up a Google Alert for Your Name -- Credit monitoring and bank alerts can help secure you against threats to your finances, but what about threats to your reputation? Rather than Googling yourself every day looking for any incorrect (or incriminating) information about you, just take 30 seconds to set up a Google alert. Then, any time your name pops up on a blog, news site or other search result, you can get an email. If you find information about yourself that you'd rather not have floating around the Web, Google provides a basic primer on how to get it removed.

To read the full article by Brownell, please click here.

New Study Shows 1 in 4 Have Been Victims of Credit Card Fraud 

October 17, 2012 Categories: credit protect yourself

NAPLES, Fla. – A recent global study of more than 5,200 consumers conducted by ACI Worldwide and Aite Group found that one in four say they have been victimized by credit card or pre-paid card fraud during the past five years.

The study surveyed consumers in 17 countries with Mexico (44%) and America (42%) reporting the highest fraud rates.

“The results of the survey show that card fraud continues to be one of the greatest threats and concerns for consumers, financial institutions and retailers,” said Mike Braatz, a senior vice president of ACI Worldwide, a Florida-based payments company.

Some key findings of the survey include:

Many consumers continue to exhibit risky behaviors that put them at a higher risk of financial fraud, including keeping written records of PIN numbers, throwing unshredded documents containing sensitive information into trash bins and using public computers or computers without security software for Internet banking services and to shop online.

If their financial institution notices unusual activity on their bank account or card, 82% of respondents are “very interested” in being notified prior to the bank taking action.

Consumers prefer immediate and direct communication from their banks when fraudulent activity is detected. The most preferred method of contact was found to be a call to the respondents’ mobile phone, followed closely by e-mail or text message. This illustrates a change from 2011 where contact via home phone was the second most preferred method.

“The 2012 Fraud survey paints a compelling picture of the global nature and threat of fraud,” said Shirley Inscoe, Senior Analyst, Aite Group.  “Financial institutions, issuers and retailers need to enlist customers in the fight against fraud, educate them on prevention best practices, and reassure them of policies should fraud occur.  Maintaining customer satisfaction, loyalty and preserving wallet share can be achieved by communicating with and enlisting the customer in the fight against fraud.”

To read the full report click here.

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