Could You Be a Victim of Fraud?
Courtesy DATCU Credit Union, Denton County LIVING WELL Magazine
In the last few weeks, major headlines have focused on the debit and credit card breach at Target––the nation’s second largest discount retailer. The debit or credit cards of more than 70 million Americans were compromised. In subsequent weeks, Neiman Marcus revealed a security breach that affected over a million customers and Michael’s craft stores is now investigating a potential customer data breach.
Unfortunately, you cannot always stop card fraud. While it is often the result of a dumpster diver stealing your sensitive information, in the case of Target, it was a result of high-tech hacking by professionals. More simply put––a breach in the retailer’s firewall security. While you cannot personally stop a professional breach, there are steps that you, as a consumer, can take to help minimize risk in general.
- Keep records of all accounts, including expiration dates and contact information, in a safe place.
- Never give anyone your account information––especially over the phone. Your financial institution will already have sensitive information so they won’t ask you for it.
- Be smart and regularly monitor all of your accounts.
- Use online banking and set-up electronic alerts and notifications.
- Shred all sensitive documents (including statements, credit offers, and even utility bills).
- When conducting transactions, keep your eye on your card.
- If you are going to be away from home, let your credit union or bank know the timeframe and where you are traveling.
Most financial institutions will be proactive and have steps in place to try and protect you. This might include “blocks” in geographical areas known to have significant fraud risks. They will also have sophisticated processes in place to help identify suspicious activity on your account. In some financial institutions, there are actual individuals who routinely perform reviews of accounts. And, in working hard to protect you, they’ll be proactive in notifying you when and if a transaction doesn’t look right.
Fraud will likely continue to increase. It seems that the criminal element for identity theft and stolen card information is always one step ahead. Therefore, if you are a victim, swift actions are required. We recommend you do the following:
- In Online Banking, set up e-alerts and notifications––if these are not already in place.
- Consider removing links between accounts (to minimize potential loss).
- Lower your card’s daily spending limits.
- If compromised, immediately cancel your card and order a new one.
- Request your credit report from all three credit bureaus and review for any lines of credit (loans, credit cards, etc.) that are not yours.
- If a victim, immediately notify the credit bureaus and have a fraud alert added to your credit report.
- In addition, if you are a victim of identity theft, contact the authorities. You will file an official report which will be necessary for any fraudulent accounts that might continue to appear.
While you may have no control if your information is compromised and fraud occurs, you can and should still be proactive and take steps to minimize exposure. As unfortunate as it is, the odds are that at some point you will be a victim. Talk to your financial institution to make sure they have steps in place to help protect you. It is important for both you and them. You don’t want your financial institution waiting until after you are a victim; the headaches that will arise are both time consuming and frustrating.
If you feel that your financial institution is one that is going to react after the fact, you might want to consider making a switch.
If you ever need financial help or advice, it would be our pleasure to serve you.
Dale Kimble, Chief Executive Officer for DATCU Credit Union may be reached at 866-387-8585.