With the holiday season in full swing, as evidenced by stores full of shoppers and lots of traffic, it’s also important to remember that this is prime time for fraudsters. In the crowded business of this season, it’s easy to let your guard down. Recent research by LIMRA indicates that 36% of those responding to their survey had been a victim of financial fraud at least once. In addition to financial fraud, we’ve seen recent stories of hackers penetrating home security systems including cameras.
Here’s the low hanging fruit for the easiest ways to protect yourself from some of the most prevalent fraud:
Thieves can steal your credit card information with a portable reader right through your purse or wallet or while you’re in line to pay for your purchases. Here are the two simplest ways to protect yourself:
- RFID blocker– This is a wallet for holding your credit cards and is designed to impede your credit card’s RFID signal.
- Credit card alerts– All credit card companies allow you to set up alerts so that when a charge is made against your card, you receive a text message. You can set lower limits such as $20. For charges over that amount, you’ll receive an instant text message. If you didn’t make that charge, you’d know immediately. Keep the card company 800 number in your phone contacts so you can call them immediately to report the problem.
The last thing you want is to have your bank account breached. If this happens, you can lose access to your money, and it can take a long time to straighten it out with the bank. This happened to one of our clients and we spent weeks resolving the problems caused.
- Check-in daily– Your best defense is to use online access to check in daily and review your transactions. It only takes a minute. Many banks will also allow you to set up text alerts for checks as they clear.
- Use dual authorization security– Typical dual authorization means that in addition to having a password, you are sent a text message with a unique code that must also be entered before you can access your account online.
- Avoid debit cards– If you’re going to use a debit card, definitely re-read the section on credit cards and this section as well. Remember, if someone steals your debit card information, they will have access to all the money in your bank account and you’ll be without your cash until the bank can straighten it out.
To minimize the risk of being hacked, use a strong password. It would be best if you also avoided public Wi-Fi in airports, bars, coffee shops, etc. as these are easier for experienced hackers.
Follow The Welch Group every Tuesday morning on WBRC Fox 6 for the Money Tuesday segment.
FOX 6 TALKING POINTS
4th Quarter Planning (series): Don’t Be a Victim of Fraud
36% of adults have been a victim of fraud
- Credit cards
- Use RFID blocker
- Set up credit card alerts
- Bank Accounts
- Check transactions daily
- Use dual authorization security
- Avoid debit cards
- Use a strong password!
Stewart H. Welch, III, CFP, AEP, is the founder of THE WELCH GROUP, LLC, which specializes in providing fee-only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. He is the author or co-author of six books, including J.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaire; and 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. More information about The Welch Group and important Disclosures can be found on our website. Investing in securities involves the risk of loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy will be profitable or equal any historical performance level(s). Consult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article.