How to Protect Yourself from Fraud

January 20, 2021

As if 2020 hasn’t been challenging enough, there’s one more thing we all need to worry about these days: increased fraud. Fraud has spiked during the pandemic, with criminals upping their game as consumers reach peak holiday shopping mode. Here are five powerful fraud-fighting tips from FICO to help you end the year with a little less stress!

1. Shore up your password habits. While most are aware of the importance of using a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols to create strong passwords, creating long passwords is even more important. The length as well as the strength of a password is the strongest deterrent to a hacker. Be sure to also use a unique password for each of your accounts, and consider using a browse-based password manager that suggests randomized passwords and manages them for you.

2. Use authentication features. Be sure to use any additional authentication capabilities offered by apps and websites you visit frequently in order to add a second layer of protection to your passwords. The easiest type to use is a one-time passcode, which can be texted or emailed to you. Face biometric and voice biometric authentication are also a growing part of a multi-prong approach to increasing the security around your accounts.

3. Use trusted payment methods. New payment apps may be cool, but be careful. Do your research, read the reviews, and check Google carefully to see if the app is a scam. If in doubt, use ApplePay, PayPal or another payment app you know and trust. If you’re sending cash from your online or mobile banking app, and you need to send money to a new recipient, do a test transaction with a small amount of money and ask that person to confirm they got it.

4. Be skeptical. It’s the giving season—during a pandemic—which multiplies the opportunities for fraudsters to try to scam you. Although GoFundMe states that “the overwhelming majority of fundraisers on our platform are safe and legitimate,” scams do happen there and many other places. Unless you personally know the person or family benefiting from a contribution, or can verify the recipient’s identity and need, think twice before you donate.

5. Monitor your credit report. Absolutely everyone needs to monitor their credit reports. Not just to stay informed about credit history, but also to spot early indications of fraud, such as identity theft. If you have young children or take care of elderly family members of your family, or don’t expect needing credit yourself anytime soon, you can also consider freezing your credit. This will also freeze all of the accounts associated with your identity.

— Courtesy RisMedia