Six tips to avoid falling victim to credit fraud
International Fraud Awareness Week runs from November 14 to 20, with the goal of raising awareness about tax fraud, businesses and consumers, identity theft and the many other ways in which criminals get involved. attack individuals and organizations.
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and a report by Grant Thornton, “The Next Normal: Preparing for a Post-Pandemic Fraud Landscape,” 51% of organizations have discovered more frauds since the start of the pandemic. Some 71% expect the level of fraud affecting their organizations to increase over the next year.
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The Covid-19 pandemic may have limited the activities of law-abiding citizens, but it seems that many scammers are flourishing.
The best way to limit fraud losses is, of course, to prevent them in the first place. Scammers usually need you to provide them with information, so be aware of the warning signs, so you can stop trusted violators in their tracks.
Credit fraud occurs when someone borrows money on your behalf or uses your cards to purchase goods or services.
Typically, you end up with unpaid debt in your name – an issue that can take a lot of time and effort to resolve. This new debt can also impact your credit rating, which is the metric used by banks and other lending institutions to decide whether to lend you money. Your credit score also determines whether you will receive a favorable interest rate.
Here are six tips to help you stay safe:
- Protect personal information. A pleasant-sounding caller who appears to represent your bank or a government agency, and asks to update your contact details, could be a sophisticated con artist. Do not disclose account numbers, passwords or other information. Also beware of emails, texts, or pop-up messages, which are unlikely to come from legitimate companies.
- Configure security. Use passwords that are difficult to crack and change them regularly. Install antivirus, firewall, and spyware protection on your computer and keep them up to date.
- Be careful when shopping. More and more people have turned to online shopping since the lockdown began. Do not use internet cafes or common areas for shopping and only do business with familiar businesses. Signs of a secure and genuine site are a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a website URL that begins with “https:”
- Review monthly statements. Take the habit check your monthly statements so that you can identify any suspicious entries. If statements are printed, shred or destroy them instead of throwing them in the trash.
- Check your credit score. Monitor your credit score regularly, as this is one way to find out if loans have been taken out fraudulently on your behalf.
- Store your cards safely: You usually only need one or two credit and ID cards for everyday use. Keep the rest in a safe place.
Take action immediately if you think you’ve been scammed or lost your cards. Notify your financial institution, report the incident to the police, and request a case number. You can also contact the Southern Africa Fraud Prevention Service on 011 867 2234 or here.
Credit fraud is planned, it does not happen by accident. You have been specifically selected by the thief.
People expect criminals to look like villains from an old movie, but they’re more likely to be good at speaking and mastering the technology. It pays to be informed and to be vigilant.
Shafeeka Anthony is the Marketing Manager for the personal finance website JustMoney.co.za.