Protecting Yourself From Online Fraud in 2017

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As compensation claims from victims of online fraud continue to flood lawyers’ offices around the world, consumers are still underprepared to protect themselves from online fraud in the first place. It is much more difficult to recover a stolen identity or personal funds than it is to protect them. By understanding the evolving face of online fraud, we can make more intentional decisions about protecting what is ours.

  1. Research Current Scams. The United States government has a great resource for understanding novel internet frauds that are being perpetuated around the world at ftc.gov/scams. You can sign up for updates here and through other sources devoted to the topic. Depending on the way you use the internet, make sure you understand fraud geared toward your user demographic.
  2. Be Wary of Free Trials. Free trials for online services can often be a good deal, but if you are unfamiliar with a company and their cancellation policies, you could be on the hook for a long time to come. Make sure you understand exactly what you are signing up for and that you will be able to cancel the service at will, especially if the company has some of your financial information. If you can’t find clear reviews from other users, don’t put personal information on sites like this.
  3. Report Robocalls. Automated voice calls are illegal. If you receive one, it’s because your number is already in the records of a company that is breaking the law. Don’t engage one of these calls. Hang up and call the FTC.
  4. Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards. Credit cards have consumer protection built into the service agreements. Debit cards have much less, because they are taking money directly out of your bank account when payment is issued. If your credit card number is stolen or otherwise compromised, you can get the funds restored much more quickly and easily than if they were stolen from a compromised debit card.
  5. Don’t Trust Caller ID’s and Logos. Many fraudsters create emails and phone calls that use the official logos and caller ID’s of legitimate companies. If you are contacted by a company that looks official, don’t automatically give them what they ask for. Do your research about such scams any time you receive fishy contacts from companies. It could save you incredible trouble moving forward.
  6. Be Wary of the Unexpected. Companies that handle your money are in the business of interacting with you in ways that you warranted. If you are contacted by an individual or company “out of the blue”, be suspicious of this communication. It is likely that you will be asked for personal information soon after the contact is made. It is best to cut off this communication and report it as soon as possible.

Even though there are many legal remediations for online fraud, it is much more difficult to repair than to prevent. If you want to keep online fraud out of your life for good, make the above practices part of your daily internet usage habit.

January 9, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized