With the ever-increasing number of scams and ID thefts, a periodic review of how we protect ourselves is a good idea. A recent issue of the FDIC Consumer News outlines 10 ways to guard our personal information and money.
1) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Whether it’s a great job, business opportunity or lottery winnings, beware … especially if you’re pressured to make a decision quickly or to send funds in advance.
2) Look out for scams that offer to send you checks that you’ll deposit into your own account, take out your portion and then send them the balance. Those checks won’t be any good, and you’ll be out of pocket for the money you’ve sent. Variations on the scam include you sending off prepaid cards, or “holding” money for a foreign business.
3) Be suspicious of unsolicited emails or text messages that ask you to click a link or open an attachment. Your computer, and the private information on it, could be at risk.
4) Don’t give out personal information unless you’re the one who’s initiated the contact. Anyone can call you or send email and pretend to be your bank or the Social Security office asking for information.
5) Choose your user IDs and passwords carefully. Use upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and change them often.
6) Be careful on social network sites. Scammers use those to gather information, such as your pet’s name and mother’s maiden name, to figure out your passwords. They also may pretend to be a friend to convince you to send money.
7) Review your transactions on a regular basis. Check bank statements and credit-card bills as soon as they arrive. Report any suspicious activity immediately. If you’re sure of your computer’s security, you can check your activity and balances online.
8) Review your credit reports to be sure someone hasn’t opened an account in your name. You can get a free report from each of the big three reporting agencies every year.
9) Protect your personal documents, such as bank statements, blank checks and tax returns. Invest in a crosscut shredder when it’s time to destroy those documents.
10) Guard your incoming mail by using a locking mailbox. For outgoing mail, always drop it at the post office or a mailbox.
To get your own free copies of the FDIC Consumer News by mail, call 1-877-275-3342 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can view past issues online at www.fdic.gov/consumernews.
By David Uppington
© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.