Posted 07 September 2023
Beware of Rising Online Fraud Risks
With technology advancing and our lives being busier than ever, it can be easy to fall for a fraudulent attack on your finances. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021 consumers reported losing over $5.8 billion in fraud, up over 70% from 2020. With imposter scams and online shopping scams being the most common, fraudsters can seem legit while stealing money right out from under people’s noses. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your information and your finances.
The best way to keep your money safe is to prevent getting scammed altogether. This can be done in a variety of ways, from keeping your sensitive information private to being vigilant and wise online. Many people know not to give out personal information over the phone to robocalls, but when we find products online that we like, it can be tempting to say “yes.” While there are many wonderful goodies out there, some are not what they say they are, but instead are scammers trying to get your money.
One way to protect yourself against online shopping scams is to read product and service reviews before checking out. The benefit to people having platforms to share their voice online is that if there is a scam or unethical business practice taking place, people will share their experience. If you’re trying out a new site, a quick search can give you the peace of mind you need. This can save you the headache of back-and-forth emails to fake customer service representatives and poorly advertised no-refund policies.
Over the years, fraudsters have gotten smarter and even better at what they do, so even the best of us can still fall for their tricks. If this happens to you, there are actions you can take to clean up your financial reputation:
- Check your credit report frequently. This can give you an idea of any fraudulent activity that may be impacting your credit. It’s recommended that you check your credit report once every four months, taking advantage of free reporting services from each of the three major credit bureaus. This will help you catch and report errors and fraud before it snowballs into something greater. You can access your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com each year. If you find anything that looks peculiar, be sure to report it immediately.
- Ask your financial institution for support. Often, there is help available at your financial institution to dispute fraud and scams. Whether it’s stolen information, or services not rendered, many institutions have departments that work to resolve these issues, and reaching out for help is a great first step.
In some instances, there isn’t anything more you can do to dispute a scam. However, you can post about it to online forums, report it at FTC.gov, and help out the next potential victim.