Financial Fraud: A Growing Problem

Financial fraud. It can happen to anyone — and more frequently than you may have imagined. Some of the most common types of financial fraud include:

  • Credit card/debit card
  • Internet
  • Mail
  • Bank account
  • Identity theft

With credit card or debit card fraud, a scammer or thief accesses your debit or credit card number and uses it to make purchases. The thief may steal the physical card (by pickpocketing you, for example) or by “skimming” it with a device that captures the card number when you use it to withdraw money from an ATM.

Internet fraud is also common.It can involve online schemes that are used to take advantage of people — including phishing, malware, email account compromises and data breaches. Phishing is when emails are sent that appear to be legitimate and induce you to reveal information such as credit card numbers or passwords. Malware is software that can provide access to your computer.Data breaches occur when your personal information is accessed without authorization — typically by hackers.

Mail fraud uses the Postal Service to commit fraud and includes the theft of mail andcorrespondence to gather personal information or money from the recipient. Fraud also happens when someone gains access to your bank account — such as via an email scam or stealing a check from your mailbox. Once the person has access to your account, he or she can withdraw money from it or even empty it.

Identity theft is when someone uses your private information to obtain a financial benefit, such as applying for and receiving a credit card in your name. The accompanying resourcedescribes how common these kinds of fraud are and actions to take.

If you have been the victim of fraud, it’s normal to feel angry, scared and even foolish. Taking action can help you feel more in control. Report the fraud to the regulators, government agencies and/or law enforcement agencies responsible for prosecuting it. Write all the details of what happened — including:

  • Who defrauded you
  • How
  • How much money you lost
  • Any evidence of the fraud
  • Police report(s) if you have one
  • Any other relevant information so that you have it in one place

Change all of the passwords on your accounts and cancel credit cards if you suspect a thief may have access to the numbers. It’s smart to request copies of your credit report from the three credit reporting companies that collect it to see whether the fraud has impacted your credit.

If your credit has been affected, or you’re simply concerned about protecting yourself from fraud, consider using a check cashing center to cash checks. Being more vigilant in the future can shield you from becoming a fraud victim once more. For more information regarding avoiding financial fraud, check out the infographic accompanying this post. Courtesy of Davenport Cash Checkers.