The Federal Trade Commission reports that consumers lost nearly $6 billion to fraud in 2021. Statistics show that the problem rose by more than 70% since 2020. Criminals manipulate personal information of unassuming individuals and businesses to obtain credit cards. Later they use this information to create fraudulent identification and then commit theft. Here are some ways to protect yourself from consumer fraud.
Online scammers usually use mechanisms like fake internet services, fraudulent businesses, fake job opportunities, lotteries, prize offerings, and sweepstakes to trick customers.
Bank statements, bills, and other financial documents contain valuable information for thieves looking to steal identities. Personal documents are often stolen from mailboxes or even trash bins. Consumers should consider opting for digital statements that can be obtained via email or directly from a banking or retailer’s website.
By going paper-free, the risk of vital personal information falling into the wrong hands is greatly reduced. Also, consider shredding any paper documents before discarding them. Many communities offer special shredding days to local residents. You may also review bills and statements every month to ensure that theft has not occurred.
Guard Personal Information
Banks, credit agencies, government agencies, and limited business types, may need the customer’s Social Security number for identification. However, there is no law that mandates consumers must provide this information. When any entity requests an individual’s personal information, the consumer needs to inquire as to why his sensitive information is being requested.
Freezing credit reports through the three prominent bureaus is another option that few consider. Performing the act is free of charge and prevents scam artists from obtaining data that might be used to create accounts using another individual’s personal information.
Anyone who habitually uses social media sites must exercise caution concerning the information they might inadvertently provide. Home addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, employment, and relationship status are some types of personal information thieves look for on social sites. Similarly, consumers must resist the urge to submit current images or other types of information that suggest they are away from home. Real-time admissions lets thieves know that a residence is vacant and ripe for exploration.
Consumers must also think twice before using public Wi-Fi. Scammers have been known to frequent locations offering the service in order to obtain personal information of anyone within proximity using a laptop or similar mobile device. If someone has no other option but to use the service, it’s best to use a virtual private network or VPN. In this way, the signals pass through many locations and are encoded, which prevents detection. Using a personal smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot in public is a safe alternative as well.
At Okinus Credit Solutions we go an extra mile to keep your credit information safe. Visit our South Pelham, Georgia location, or complete an application online today by visiting our website.