Putting the pieces together — including a few simple actions and some easy-to-use tools — can help you avoid financial fraud. Here’s what to consider.
Financial fraud isn’t a fun topic to think about, but it’s important to be aware of the escalating danger. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021 — an increase of more than 70% from 2020’s numbers.1
The good news is that you can do a lot to avoid financial fraud, and most of the recommended actions and tactics are easy to do. They can simply become part of your regular running-your-life routine.
Here are three checklists of the top tips, tools, and resources that can help you avoid becoming a victim of financial fraud.
Prevention: Tips to help you avoid fraud
- Don’t provide personal or financial information to a caller, digital message user, or email correspondent unless you initiated the communication.
- Never send personal financial information through an email or text.
- Always log out of online accounts when you’re done. Also, close or quit your internet browser after making online purchases.
- Always use a private, password-secured Wi-Fi network when using online banking services. Avoid public Wi-Fi when your personal financial information is involved.
- Don’t respond to suspicious emails or text messages — and don’t click on any links included in those messages. What is suspicious? Anything that sounds too good to be true or unlike how you usually get such information.
- Keep your computer and mobile device software updated to ensure the latest security measures are installed.
- Review your credit report at least annually to search for unauthorized accounts under your name. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you can get a free credit report annually from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Request your report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
- If your phone or tablet is lost or stolen, contact your mobile service provider immediately to determine if your service should be shut off.
- Be careful with a child’s or grandchild’s personal information and identity. The most important secret to guard is their Social Security number. Before you share it with anyone, ask these three questions: What is it needed for, how will it be protected, and are the last four digits sufficient? Learn how to know if someone is using your child’s identity and what to do about it with these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.
Tools: Services and solutions that help you prevent fraud
- Your financial services institutions most likely include technology with your accounts that helps you easily stay on top of account activity. Wells Fargo clients can set up alerts to notify them when purchases or withdrawals are made.
- Use multifactor authentication, voice activation, one-time passwords (OTP), or fingerprint or facial recognition to sign into accounts. Security tools and authentication options vary, depending on your accounts and the type of device you use — be sure you’re using the available security tools and options.
- Consider setting up Advanced Access for your accounts at Wells Fargo Bank. Using an RSA SecurID device, a small portable electronic device that can be easily attached to a keychain, Advanced Access provides an additional access code sent through an SMS text message, phone call, or push notification when you’re conducting online or mobile banking.
- Consider using a digital wallet — a way to carry your credit and debit information securely and digitally on your mobile device. A unique digital card number can then be used for transactions. By doing this, you ensure that businesses or sellers never see or store your full card or account number.
- Explore using a password manager to help generate and manage strong passwords for all your accounts, subscriptions, and services.
Resources: Guides and organizations that help consumers fight fraud
- AnnualCreditReport.com is an easy way to get free credit reports from the three major credit bureaus.
- This social media guide from Wells Fargo can help you keep your social media profiles safer.
- The Internal Revenue Service maintains a guide to top tax and other scams that can be worth reviewing if you have questions.
- The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has a broad list of fraud resources and also allows you to report a crime or file a complaint.
1. New Data Shows FTC Received 2.8 Million Fraud Reports from Consumers in 2021: Reported fraud losses increase more than 70% over 2020 to more than $5.8 billion. February 22, 2022.