Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect yourself, such as taking proactive steps to avoid scams and educating yourself about how common scams work.
Scammers continually evolve strategies, using clever new methods and technologies to separate you from your money. Scams and fraud are much easier to avoid when you know what to look for. Here are some of the best ways to protect yourself from financial fraud.
One of the easiest ways to keep your financial accounts secure is to turn on multi factor authentication (MFA), also called two-factor authentication (2FA). MFA requires you to type in a code or follow another step beyond entering your username and password, which helps protect you if someone gets a hold of your password.
When you use this feature and log into an account, you might receive a text message or email with a code or link to verify your identity. For maximum security, use an app like Google Authenticator or Authy, which periodically generates a new randomized code.
Be careful to avoid giving these codes to anyone else. If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone asking for one of these codes, they may not be who they say. It’s not an infallible system, but using MFA, where available, substantially increases your digital security.
Many people use the same password for all of their accounts. This makes it much easier to remember your login, but it’s also incredibly dangerous from a security point of view. If one online account you use is breached, which is almost inevitable in the modern era, bad actors have the password to all of your accounts.
With one password leaked, if it’s used on multiple websites, a hacker or fraudster could steal everything from your money to your identity after a single website breach. Even though you may think it’s inconvenient, using a unique password for each of your online accounts is best. Using a password manager like Bitwarden can help create strong and unique passwords.
Almost everyone uses Google to find customer service phone numbers. However, just because a phone number pops up in Google’s featured snippets box doesn’t mean it’s legit.
Recently, scammers have manipulated search results to appear on top when searching for common customer service numbers. When you call a number believing you’re talking to your bank or another legitimate company, it’s easy for the scammer to get your personal information and use it for identity theft or fraud.
If you’re looking for a customer service phone number, the best option is to visit the company’s website. Don’t blindly trust search results without verifying.
One of the biggest financial scams currently happening in America is romance scams. The person you meet on Bumble or Tinder might actually be someone who wants to steal your money. Older adults are the most common victims of these financial scams, but scammers will prey on anyone in a vulnerable situation since they are easier to manipulate regardless of age.
Be highly skeptical of people you meet on dating apps. Never send anyone money, even if they have an excellent sob story.
Zelle fraud is on the rise in the U.S., and it’s extremely difficult to get your money back when you’re the victim of this type of fraud. If a business you don’t know extremely well insists on using Zelle to complete a transaction, it’s often safer to walk away than to complete the payment.
Also, be careful when using other payment platforms, including PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App. These tools are not immune to scams, so it’s always wise to exercise caution when sending money.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from financial fraud is to catch it early. Review your financial statements line by line every month to ensure you remember every purchase. Scammers often start by skimming small amounts to see if you’ll notice. If you don’t report them, the amounts get larger.
If you identify an instance of potential financial fraud, alert your account provider immediately. If the charge is fraudulent, they may be able to reverse it and help get your money back. All major credit cards in the United States come with $0 liability protection from unauthorized payments. Debit cards may have the same protection, depending on your account provider.
For wide-spread fraud, you may also want to report it to the FTC.
Whatever the scam, if there are fraudulent charges on your account, the scammer likely has access to your personal information. This may include your card or other account numbers. That’s one of the reasons we make it easy to lock and replace a stolen Payactiv Visa® Card*, helping to give you peace of mind.
If you have a card with another financial institution, you must immediately report any fraudulent activity.
Scams are on the rise, but staying informed and alert can help you stay one step ahead of scammers. For extra security, consider using a card that provides the feature to lock it remotely, like the Payactiv Visa Card.
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*The Payactiv Visa Prepaid Card is issued by Central Bank of Kansas City, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Certain fees, terms, and conditions are associated with the approval, maintenance, and use of the Card. You should consult your Cardholder Agreement and the Fee Schedule at payactiv.com/card411. If you have questions regarding the Card or such fees, terms, and conditions, you can contact us toll free at 1 (877) 747-5862, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
All content provided on Payactiv.com/financial-learning/ is for informational purposes only. Payactiv makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link from this site. Payactiv will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. Payactiv will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.
* The Payactiv Visa Prepaid Card is issued by Central Bank of Kansas City, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Certain fees, terms, and conditions are associated with the approval, maintenance, and use of the Card. You should consult your Cardholder Agreement and the Fee Schedule at payactiv.com/card411. If you have questions regarding the Card or such fees, terms, and conditions, you can contact us toll-free at 877-747-5862, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
** Central Bank of Kansas City is the issuer of the Payactiv Visa Prepaid Card only and does not administer, endorse, nor is liable for the Payctiv App.
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