Fourth of July Fraud Prevention

Declare Independence from Criminal Fraud This Year

It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s time to grill-up some hot dogs, set-off fireworks, and celebrate freedom. On top of that, you may be looking forward to some of those deep, deep, discounts this Independence Day weekend, too.

Unfortunately, there’s more than a few bad actors out there trying to take advantage of the festivities. How can you be sure you’re protecting yourself against fraud this Fourth of July? Here’s a few tips to help defend yourself against phishers, fraudsters, and other malcontents:

#1. Verify Identities Online

You always want to know who you’re dealing with online before divulging any sensitive information. So, before completing a purchase online or submitting any personal information like your address or payment info, do a little research on the merchant to be sure it’s a legitimate business. Check that you spelled the URL correctly, so you didn’t land on a phishing site. If you’re not sure, try giving the phone number listed on the site a call.

#2. Use Credit Over Debit

Many consumers are reluctant to pay using credit when they have the money available on-hand. What they don’t realize is that credit cards offer significant fraud protections that debit cards don’t have.

With a credit card, your fraud liability is limited to no more than $50 under federal law. That means no matter how much a fraudster charges to your card, you’ll never have to pay more than $50. With debit, you could be liable for any losses up to $500, if you report the fraud within 60 days. And, your bank has the option to make you fully-liable for any fraud not reported in that timeframe.

#3. Protect Your Information

If someone reaches out to you asking for personal information, even if that person is familiar to you…don’t give it away. Impersonating your friends or loves ones, or even hacking into and taking over their accounts, is a very common tactic referred to as “spear phishing.” The name comes from the fact that the fraudster isn’t going after just anyone; the fraudster is specifically targeting you.

The same goes for people claiming to be representatives of your bank, the IRS, or other services. Banks will never call or email you asking you to verify personal information.

#4. Don’t Be Pressured

A legitimate company will give you time to make a decision about an offer or purchase. If a representative uses high-pressure, aggressive tactics, don’t give that person anything. This is doubly true if the person starts to threaten you; if that’s the case, hang up or disconnect from the conversation, because it’s almost definitely fraud.

#5 Check Your Credit

Remember that you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—every 12 months. Be sure to take advantage of them.

Review your credit history, score, and all of the lines of credit reported in your name. Be on the lookout for something that looks unfamiliar or which doesn’t add up; it’s possible that a criminal might have gotten hold of your information and used it to open lines of credit in your name. If that’s the case, immediately contact the FTC to place a fraud alert on your name. Then, get in touch with the bureau that reported the incident and see how to move forward.

Life, Liberty, & Protection Against Fraud

The number of fraud cases reported at different points around the calendar will vary. However, you should follow these five tips every day of the year.

Found suspicious activity on your statement? Worried that a transaction might be a case of fraud? Contact eConsumer Services to recover your funds today.