Are you concerned about the security of your financial information? With rising instances of debit card fraud and data breaches, it’s an understandable concern. But the good news is, there are several steps both you and your banking institution can take to make sure your money is safe from fraud. First, let’s take a look at the different types of fraud you can encounter.
Types of Financial Fraud
Debit and Credit Card Fraud
- Debit and credit card fraud occur when someone steals your card number and information or attempts to use your card without permission. This type of fraud usually happens because of theft or ATM Skimming, which we’ll talk more about below.
Phishing and Scams
- Phishing occurs when someone contacts you and solicits personal, private, and/or financial information under the guise of a legitimate and familiar company. As more awareness about phishing has increased, scammers have become even more clever. It’s important to be on guard and never give out your financial information to anyone unless you are 100% certain of his or her identity.
- Identify theft occurs when someone steals personally identifying information about you, such as a social security number, and then uses that information to open accounts or make purchases. This type of fraud takes a major toll on a person’s life and is difficult to recover from, so it’s important to take as many preventative steps as possible to protect yourself.
Learn more tips to protect yourself from Identity Theft
- A Skimming device is a card reader attached to an ATM or point-of-sale device (such as a gas station pump), which disguises itself as part of the machine. These devices are used to save debit and credit card information, including the PIN number, so that it can be replicated for theft. While these types of fraud are on the rise, there are actions you can take to keep your information secure.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Fraud?
Guard Your Account Information
- Use Online Banking – Online banking is the safest way to keep track of your financial information. Not only does it eliminate a paper trail with personally identifiable information, this convenient option is protected with layers of security for your protection. You can enhance this security by creating strong passwords that you frequently change.
- Safe Card Habits – The first step to keeping your debit card safe is to memorize your PIN number and never write it down or give it away. When making purchases, use the credit option as frequently as possible to avoid typing in your PIN. Finally, if your wallet or purse is ever stolen, immediately contact your banking institution.
- Protect Documents – Use paperless billing and keep your financial documents organized in a secure location, and make sure to shred any documents you no longer need.
- Monitor Your Accounts – The easiest and safest way to keep track of your accounts is to use online banking.
Safe Browsing Habits
- Be on Guard For Phishing – While phishing emails have become more cunning, there are still a few key signs to look out for.
- Look out for spelling and grammar mistakes – Many phishing emails have errors in spelling and grammar. Since they often impersonate large, trusted companies and organizations, you can be certain that if there are major spelling and grammatical issues, it’s a scam.
- Preview the links – Before clicking on any link, hover your mouse over it to make sure the address goes to a secure, trusted site. If you’re on mobile, you can simply copy the link and paste it into a note-taking application
- Don’t believe threats – Many phishing scams scare users with threats saying their accounts will be closed or blocked. Trusted companies will typically send official letters in the mail for any serious issues.
- Use Wi-Fi Securely – If possible, use your cellphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Otherwise, if you must use public Wi-Fi, be sure to only sign on to trusted networks, like those operated by large companies, such as Starbucks or your local library. If possible, don’t look at personal or financial information while signed on to a public Wi-Fi.
- Create Strong Passwords – Make sure your passwords are hard to guess by making them long and with a combination of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols. Never write your password down. Instead, use a password manager.
- Stay Updated on Scams – Scams are always evolving and changing. Make sure you keep up to date by visiting our frequently updated page that details the most recent scams.
Look Out For Skimming
- Understand the Signs of Skimming
- Off colors – Some skimming devices are hard to detect, but if the slot where you insert your card is a wildly different color than the rest of the machine, it’s probably an attached device.
- Misaligned graphics – ATMs are well-designed machines, so if you see words, arrows, or other graphics that are misaligned or overlapping, the machine has probably been tampered with.
- Loose parts – Skimming devices have to be installed on point-of-sale or ATM machines, so when you use an ATM, check for loose parts. Pull at the card reader and the keyboard to make sure it’s not loose or wiggly. If it is, don’t take the risk; avoid using the machine.
- Use a Chip Card – Chip cards are far safer than cards with magnetic strips. Many ATM and point-of-sale machines now use chip reading technology.
Learn more about ATM Skimming
How Does Your Bank Protect You From Fraud?
- Fraud Monitoring – Most banks monitor for suspicious transactions and will either deny or hold questionable transactions until you can verify them.
- EMV Chip Technology – Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) chip technology is the global standard for card security. This chip makes cards more difficult to successfully counterfeit.
- Anti-Skimming Technology – If you’ve recently visited an ATM and noticed you no longer insert your card via the short edge, you’ve encountered ActivEdge technology. This complex piece of technology prevents skimming by making it extremely difficult for scammers to install skimming devices.
The Advantage of Choosing a Credit Union
- Owned by Members – Credit unions are owned by their members. That means, if you bank with a credit union, you’re not just a customer, you’re an owner.
- Less Fraud Means Better Rates – Earnings are always given back to credit unions in the form of dividends. This means that members receive lower loan and higher savings rates.
- Save Money by Reducing Fraud – Better rates and protected financial information mean members not only feel secure, they save money, too.
Learn more about the steps Community First is taking to protect you against fraud.
Also, be sure to follow our 13 quick tips to protect yourself from identity theft during the holidays by downloading our Identity Theft Protection Guide.