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May 30

Fraud Alert

Posted on May 30, 2019 at 12:55 PM by Harvey Baker

Being a victim of fraud is a familiar occurrence in the United States. In 2017, 6.64% of consumers were victims of identify fraud, or about 1 in 15 U.S. residents. It is hard to imagine but there is a new victim of identity theft every 2 seconds. Every year millions of Americans regrettably lose billions of dollars to fraud or identity theft, and no one is immune. Criminals that engage in these illegal activities are becoming more sophisticated and craftier on how they steal people’s hard-earned money. They often prey on the popularity of technology and use it to employ old theft schemes to get you to send money or submit personal identification information to a fictitious source. While fraud is a national issue it is also of serious concern for local law enforcement in the state of Maryland and even here in University Park. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Maryland is ranked #7 in the U.S. in fraud crimes and for every 100,000 residents 40 incidents of fraud are reported.

Vigilance and increased awareness are a good start in preventing fraud. These basic fraud prevention tips can help reduce or eliminate the opportunity for fraud and help you stay one step ahead:

  • Keep personal identification information confidential. Please don’t share your personal identification information (name, date of birth, social security number, address) online or via telephone with someone you don’t know and have not contacted.
  • Be on the lookout for imposters. Thieves may pose as a utility person, a government official or a representative from an anti-virus software company. Don’t send or give money or share your personal identification information with any unexpected requestor or solicitor. Know who you are dealing with.
  • Pay for online purchases with a credit card, not a debit card. Bank credit cards have built in fraud protection and the financial institution will commit considerable resources to the recovery of their money.
  • Check your monthly bank and credit card statements. Look for unauthorized transactions and notify your financial institution of any suspicious activity.
  • Shred unneeded documents. Don’t throw documents in the trash that contain your personal identification information. You don’t want your information to fall into the wrong hands.
  • Be wary of free trial offers and too good to be true deals. Do your research when you receive a free trial offer. Resist being pressured and take the time to Google the name of the company and check for any reviews. Check with the local Better Business Bureau. Also discuss the offer with a trusted family member or friend before making a final decision on a free trial. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it is probably too good to be true.
  • Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales message, hang up and report it to the FTC at 1-877-382-4357. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more sales calls. Oftentimes these calls are from anonymous numbers or from what appears to be a local number. Depending on your landline telephone service, you may be able to block anonymous calls by pressing *77 and after three beeps hang up. You can also add your landline or smart phone to the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222. There are several apps you can purchase from your cellphone provider. Finally, don’t return calls to numbers you don’t recognize on your caller ID.
  • Don’t open email or text messages that you don’t recognize. When in doubt simply delete the message. Never share your personal information or credit information to an unrequested email or text message.
  • Be aware of anti-virus company unsolicited calls. Do not share your personal and credit information with companies that call you to update virus protection. Never make payment on any anti-virus software with gift cards, western union or money gram.

 

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