The world of personal finance is advancing as quickly as ever. Things like electronic payments, online banking, cryptocurrency, and mobile portfolio management are just a few examples of how technology is transforming the way we manage our finances. That being said, the risk of scams, fraud, and identity theft is higher than ever. It is our goal at Hart Real Estate Solutions to be Your Trusted Guides; and we believe that protecting your personal financial information is absolutely essential. Shared below are tips for managing your credit, and preventing fraud, avoiding scams, and securing your finances.
Fraud Protection: Using Bureaus to Place Fraud Alerts
Contact one of the three nationwide credit bureaus.
The credit bureau that you contact will contact the two that you did not contact for you. This process is entirely free.
Be sure the bureaus have your current address and contact information so that they can verify your identity as well as get in touch with you.
The bureau will explain to you all of the information that they can provide to you as well as supply you with a free credit report.
Fraud alerts typically last one year. Make sure to mark the day that you place the alert so that you can renew the alert after the year is up.
Information on the three national credit bureaus is below:
How to Take Advantage of E-Alerts on all of Your Bank Accounts and Cards
Setting up fraud alerts against unwanted account activity is one thing, but what about that free trial that made you put in your card information that you forgot to cancel? E-alerts, or electronic alerts, are automated alerts meant to notify you whenever your card or bank account is used. Setting up E-alerts can not only be a second line of defense against fraud, but also be a useful aid for budgeting as well as managing all those pesky monthly payments. E-alerts are typically sent via email and/or text, though many prefer mobile alerts. For a bank account or debit card, E-alerts can be easily set up through your mobile banking app, by visiting your bank’s Similarly, setting up alerts for a credit card can be done through the credit card app, or by calling the credit card provider directly.
How to Better Manage Bills and Automatic Payments
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life. Without certain tools and safeguards in place, it’s easy to miss payments here and there. As unfair as it is, missing one payment could lower your credit score substantially. Missing payments and forgetting about subscriptions can also be a financial burden. Worse yet, you may not even know what you’ve been paying for! For these reasons, we strongly urge you to use PayPal or a similar financial service to manage your automatic payments.
PayPal allows you to manage each of your Pre-Approved Payments individually, as well as provide you with details about the dates that the payments were made, and the total amount charged. You can also cancel free trials, subscriptions, and billing agreements with anyone directly through the PayPal interface. This allows you to avoid the hassle of canceling subscriptions or trials directly, which can be a nightmare. In addition, PayPal offers a secure link to your bank account and detailed transaction history for all of your online purchases, transfers, and more. Better yet, many credit card companies actually will allow you to set up automatic credit card payments via PayPal. The terms and conditions vary substantially between card providers, but contact your credit card company to find out more on automatic payments!
Identifying and Protecting Yourself against all Kinds of Scams
Scams – we’ve all seen them, some of us have even fallen for them. Inevitably, as technology advances, so does the complexity of scams. Thousands and thousands of scams are blocked by our spam filters on our personal email accounts every day, but what about the few that slip through the cracks? These elaborate ruses are meant to fool even the keenest of eyes. Knowing what to look for, and more importantly what NOT to do, is paramount when it comes to avoiding scams.
Identify Common Practices & Scamming Techniques
Believe me, scammers know better than anyone what works and what doesn’t. Though each scam is different, they all follow the same framework. First, scammers will attempt to incite a strong emotional response. Next, they will use your heightened emotion to try to get you to act quickly.
For years, scams have attempted to prey on the sense of excitement that people get when they believe that they won something: “Just enter your card information and billing address, pay $4.99 for shipping, and this TV is all yours!” Sound like a scam? Hopefully. Though these scams do still exist, they are becoming less and less prevalent due to the vast amount of them that have existed. People are figuring them out. More often than not, scammers prey on fear. Fear of financial loss, of an injured relative or family member, or fear of being in trouble with the law. The key here? Slow down! The more time you take to think about what is happening, the less likely you are to become a victim. Call someone, search the internet, check the facts. Don’t act impulsively, and you likely won’t get scammed.
One common scamming practice is phishing. This type of scam aims to collect your personal information by convincing you that they are a reliable source. Take this common example: You get a fake email from Apple, Amazon, Ebay, or Google, claiming that your account or recent purchase has been compromised. This email will most likely appear almost exactly like it would if it were real, because the scammer just screenshot a real email and used it in their scam. Within the fake email they will usually include a link or a form within the email that will ask you for personal or account information to “Login”, “Recover Your Account” or “Verify Your Identity”. Never, and I mean NEVER, click on a link or fill out personal information within an email. Instead, go to the website in question directly, login to your account, and see if there is actually a problem. 99% of the time, there isn’t, and if there is, you can easily deal with it using the website itself. Don’t click on email links unless you’re sure they are legit!
One of the best ways to stay updated on scams is via to sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s official scam alerts. The FTC offers a free alert that is occasionally sent to your email; this alert will include the most recent and/or prevalent scams to keep an eye out for. To learn more and sign up for FTC Scam Alerts, click here!
Avoiding Phone Scams
Though less prevalent than email scams, phone scams definitely do exist. More often than not, telephone scammers will mask their phone number to appear as someone else. This could be a friend, relative, company, or even an FBI Office. They will conduct the scam in a variety of ways, but they will always ask you for personal information. Here are some things you can do to avoid phone scams:
Don’t give away ANY personal information over the phone.
Call the person back using the phone number that appeared on the caller ID to ensure that it is the true phone number.
If the caller is claiming to be a company or law enforcement, ask the caller for a supervisor’s contact information.
If the caller is claiming to be a friend or relative, ask personal questions that only that person would know until you have verified the caller’s identity.
SLOW DOWN. Similarly to email scams, phone scams abide by the common practice of invoking an emotional response and trying to get you to act impulsively. Surprisingly, slowing down is usually the only thing you need to do to avoid scams.
Using the above methods, scams can be avoided entirely. No matter how clever the scammer is or how elaborate that scams become, you can always navigate to safety!