3 Tips for Fighting Your Fears (of Fraud) This Halloween

3 Tips for Fighting Your Fears (of Fraud) This Halloween

By Jim Wilcox, AVP, Risk Operations

Halloween is a spooky time of year if you’re afraid of ghosts, vampires and werewolves. But if you’re afraid of fraud and identity theft, the whole year can be pretty scary! With many people still receiving unemployment or having already received other types of government assistance, such as PPP loans, opportunities for fraud have expanded, leading to an increase1 in the number of people impacted by scams. While you can’t use garlic or magic spells to ward off fraud in the digital era, there are some tips you can follow to ensure your personal information stays safe and secure.

1. Keep an eye out for phishing emails. If you receive an email you weren’t expecting, or from a person or organization you don’t recognize, or from someone you do recognize but it’s a different address or something just seems “off,” take precautions. Phishing emails are frequently sent out soliciting private information that can be used to commit fraud against you or in your name. To guard against this, never reply to suspicious emails. If the sender claims to be someone you know but has a different email address, call them on the phone or send them an email at their usual address to confirm it’s really them. And definitely don’t click links or open any attachments.

2. Beware unsolicited phone calls asking for personal information. Besides email, phone calls are a popular way for fraudsters to obtain your personal information. Financial institutions will not call you on the phone to verify your Social Security number, account number or account password. If you get a call from someone asking for that information, it’s a huge red flag.

3. Keep your mobile devices safe. Not all fraudsters simply ask you for your personal info via email or phone call. In an era when we live much of our lives online, it’s increasingly common for your mobile devices – whether phones, tablets or laptops – to be hacked to obtain vital information or access your account. Therefore, you should ensure that these devices are secured at all times. Use a PIN that only you know to lock your devices; only download apps through approved app stores, like those of Apple or Google; only connect to secured Wi-Fi networks you recognize; and finally, make sure your passwords for online banking and anything else that contains sensitive information are totally unique and, as with your PIN, known only to you.

Beyond these specific tips, just stay vigilant. If you’re an Affinity member, you have peace of mind knowing we monitor your account activity and notify you via text or email when suspicious activity occurs. And if you receive any phone calls asking for personal information, you can contact our Member Solutions Hub at 800-325-0808.

Halloween is a time to experience being fun scared, not scary scared. Taking precautions to prevent fraud and knowing your financial institution’s resources are behind you can enjoy this time of year without (real) fear.

                                                   

This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition are made.  

1 Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/23/us/coronavirus-scams-ftc-reports.html