A new year usually brings a desire for self-improvement – whether through losing weight and improving personal fitness, or by finding inner peace and improved mental health.
Another subject of self-improvement, however, is improvement of personal finances – and what better way to keep your finances healthy than to avoid fraudsters and scammers?
Here are ten resolutions you can stick to in 2024 to help you stay fraud-free.
Regularly monitor your finances.Checking your bank and credit card statements for unrecognized charges is the easiest way to discover fraud that you could otherwise miss. The faster you find fraudulent transactions in your account history, the faster you can contact your bank or credit union to get those reversed!
Set up account alerts.Checking your statements routinely is a good practice to have, but if you want to stop fraud in its tracks more quickly, having transaction alerts and other account alerts turned on is a must. You can turn on account alerts in Kirtland CU Online or Mobile Banking by going to Account Alerts, where you can set up notices for transactions, balances, deposits, and withdrawals.
Use MFA for your accounts where possible.Multi-factor authentication requires your permission to access an account through a device you have with you – whether through a phone call or text message code, or a separate authentication app. Having this greatly decreases the likelihood that a scammer can access your account, even if they have your user ID and password – but remember, don’t give out your one-time passcode to anyone who asks!
Be password savvy.Using the same password across multiple accounts is something we’ve all done – but if you use the same password and that password is compromised, all of your accounts are suddenly at risk.
To avoid this potential problem, use pass phrases that are at least 12 characters long, including capital and lower-case letters, non-sequential numbers, and symbols. You can be even more secure by using a password manager like 1Password and allowing it to create and remember passwords for you – then the only password you need to remember is your master password.
Be cautious on social media.Only connect with people you know, and be careful about including personal information in your profile or your posts – scammers will often use this information to try to pass off as friends or family to gain your trust. Additionally, be cautious about buying products you see on social media – many Facebook or Instagram ads for products are at best dishonest about the quality of the product, and at worse dishonest about giving you a product at all…all they want is your credit card number and personal information.
Don’t hand over your personal information without a good reason.If someone asks for sensitive personal information, such as your account number, password, or PIN, Social Security number, birthdate, or address, make sure that it is actually necessary to provide that information. When in doubt, don’t give it out – the more information someone has about you, the easier it is for them to steal your identity.
Don’t send money to strangers.Even if you’re hitting it off with someone online, if you haven’t met them in person, don’t send them money if they ask for it. Once you send money, you generally can’t get it back. Don’t fall for urgent requests either – think the situation through and remain calm.
Research retailers before making a purchase.Before making an online purchase, run a search for the retailer on Google or other search engines to see if they have not fulfilled orders or otherwise scammed customers from their money. Also, look to confirm that their listed address and phone number are legitimate, and that their website is secure. Finally, check to see if they have refund policies – using credit cards can help with disputed transactions as well.
Obtain a credit freeze if you need to stop credit applications.If you aren’t planning on opening any new loans or lines of credit, placing a credit freeze on your reports at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion can help prevent new credit cards and loans from being approved in your name without your consent. It’s also a good idea to review your credit report periodically for unusual activity – you can get a free credit report annually from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Be wary of unsolicited emails, text messages, and phone calls.This is the most important resolution you can make. Don’t click on links or open attachments from unsolicited emails and text messages; you could be exposing yourself to viruses or malware that will allow criminals to access your accounts somehow.
Always remember: Kirtland CU will never contact you with an unsolicited message about your account. If you suspect something isn’t right about a message you receive that claims to be from Kirtland CU, contact us at 1-800-880-5328 and we’ll be happy to help address any concerns about your accounts.