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Fraud Prevention

7 Steps to Follow if You Suspect Identity Fraud

Brittney Monteith | June 19, 2019

It is easier than ever to fall victim to identity fraud. Whether it’s through an email phishing scam, someone going through your mail, or a skimming device stealing your card information from the ATM machine at the corner convenience store – the ways to have your personal information compromised are endless. If you believe you have fallen victim to identity fraud, taking these steps is the best way to protect yourself from further theft.

How Do I Protect Myself Against Identity Fraud?

Review Credit Card Statements

If you have several accounts and open lines of credit to keep track of, it’s easy to overlook potential fraudulent charges. Take a few minutes each month to review your account activity charge by charge. Look for multiple small charges made in a row, especially from a location you haven’t visited. Many times, thieves will test cards with small charges to see if you are reviewing charges to your card before they go on a big spending spree.

Set Up Alerts for on Your Cards for Suspicious Activity

Quite often credit card companies allow you to set up email or text alerts that are triggered automatically when suspicious spending occurs. If you receive an alert, take a few minutes to investigate, especially if you don’t remember making that charge, if it comes from an online store-front, or if the charge comes from an area you haven’t been to recently.

Be wary of sudden cash back rewards from credit cards. Before cashing in your reward, make sure that it was earned through charges you’ve made and not through fraudulent charges.

Check Your Credit Score Regularly

If a card was opened in your name, it will be reflected in your credit score. If you notice a new card opened that you have not authorized or a change to your credit score itself, you may have fallen victim to credit card fraud.  There are monitoring programs, such as the AmeriChoice Benefits Plus Program which offers Ultimate ID identity protection to its members. This program goes beyond simple score monitoring and provides broader coverage for different types of identity fraud beyond a stolen card, card number, or account. Click here for more information about the ways you can be protected.

https://www.americhoice.org/member-services/benefits-plus-program/

Review Protection Options for Credit vs. Debit Charges

With either a credit card or debit card number being stolen, fraudulent charges can be refunded if the financial institution is notified as quickly as possible. Under the Consumer Credit Act, you will be protected. It is possible that you could be responsible for the first $50 worth of charges on your card, but most of the time this fee is waived if you report the fraud quickly and honestly.

Be advised that cash cannot be refunded. Some common phishing scams require you to send cash to unknown individuals.  Other scams ask you to cash a check for someone and then send the cash in exchange for a bigger payout later. A few days after cashing the check, it bounces, and you are responsible for the withdrawn cash you’ve already mailed.  It is impossible to refund you money if you send cash to an individual who promises goods or services that turn out to be fake. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What Do I Do If I Suspect Identity Fraud?

Cancel Compromised Cards

Once you suspect that your account is compromised, the best way to ensure your card number will not be used again is to cancel the card. Be sure to change all account passwords for your bank, credit card, and online shopping logins in case one of those sites was how your account was compromised.

Operate on Cash on a Cash Budget While Sorting Out Issues

Until you can get all of your accounts secure, it’s important to use cash on all transactions so your financial institution can easily track fraudulent charges to your account.

Have an Emergency Credit Card with your Non-Primary Institution

Switching to an all-cash approach is ideal, but sometimes can be impractical if you need credit or require a mechanism for online payment for remote or digital merchants. For these situations, having an emergency credit card can help. A separate account that is not tied to any other can provide you with access to credit that has not been compromised, ensure that fraudulent transactions can be tracked on your compromised account by your financial institution. Be sure when opening an emergency credit card, it is designed to be used in an emergency situation. AmeriChoice offers several different types of credit cards including emergency credit cards. Check out the options using the following link:

https://www.americhoice.org/products/credit-cards/

Although identity fraud is more common than ever, you can protect yourself. By taking these steps, you can quickly formulate a plan of action if your financial information has been compromised and secure your accounts once again.