Use credit monitoring software to determine who is accessing your credit and to confirm that you have no unknown accounts opened in your name. There are many of these and there are many banks that offer discounted memberships with companies that offer this service. They notify if anything occurs involving your credit report. You can also access your credit report at any time to review as you would like.
Check kids social security numbers! Children can be victimized and the crimes can go undetected for years. There are many cases that involve family members actually using juvenile information along with false information to obtain credit. This can be a hassle to correct when your child becomes an adult and has to clear up large amounts of fraud.
INCOME TAX FRAUD
This has become more and more common. Make sure you file as soon as possible. If you file at the earliest possible time you can prevent a scammer from filing a false return using your information. If you have elderly relatives, neighbors and friends that no longer file income tax returns help them check their “income tax transcript” history. The elderly can be targeted because they no longer file legitimate returns so scammers file fraud returns and the victim is unaware that their information has been compromised. This is a very lucrative fraud scheme that is occurring right here in OUR community. If you notice a neighbor that has been unemployed and/or suddenly has expensive cars and/or other items and there seems to be no known legitimate reason for their recent purchases please report this activity. This can be done anonymously through Hernando County Crime Stoppers on the Sheriff’s Office website. You may be eligible to receive a reward if you provide enough information that an arrest results.
SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD
Recently there has been an increase in the theft of social security money by changing the bank account information. If a suspect knows some of the basic information of the recipient they can file a bank account change over the telephone. This has recently become a regular fraud occurring in Hernando County. Please check on your family, friends and neighbors and help them discover and report these frauds. Call your social security office to look into creating a password or some other safety measure to protect your information from being changed without your knowledge.
INITIATE FRAUD ALERTS WITH CREDIT BUREAUS
This protects your credit from criminal use for fraud. It can also make credit purchases more difficult for you to get but, the slight hassle you may have to go through to obtain credit can protect you against fraud by others. The alerts/blocks can allow you to list periods of time that the fraud block is lifted (i.e. if you know u are going out to purchase a car of other large item that will require a credit check). You can lift the alert/block for the time period you need and then it can be re-instated. It will mostly affect “instant credit” because they may not be able to pull your credit and/or approve you immediately. It does not prevent current creditors and collection companies from accessing your info it only makes it more difficult for new accounts to be opened.
For more information visit this link: http://www.fightidentitytheft.com/flag.html
CREDIT CARD FRAUD
Check your balance online as often as possible, almost all companies have online or telephone access to review your account. You only have a certain time frame to detect and report fraud purchases in order to have them removed from your account. If the credit card company determines that you knew or should have known about the fraud charge and did nothing they may not remove the fraud charges. So be diligent and review your statements every month and/or check balances more frequently.
Be careful when making credit card purchases that require you to hand your card to someone that will take the card out of your sight to process a transaction (typically restaurants).
One way to avoid becoming a victim of a “large scale” fraud that could drain your main bank account is to do the following:
- Get a completely separate account (not linked via overdraft protection to any of your other bank and/or credit card accounts)
- Place a pre-determined amount of money in that account (depending on your spending habits anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousands)
- Whenever the card will be out of your sight hand the debit card for this account to the employee.
- If your card information is compromised during this transaction the amount of lose you suffer will be limited to how much you keep in that account. The loss will also not drain your main account that could cause bill payments/checks to be dishonored.
- This can also be done with credit card accounts by having one your creditors reduce your maximum credit limit to a few hundred dollars. Then use that card when it will be used out of your sight.
Skimming is the theft of credit card information used in an otherwise legitimate transaction. It is typically an "inside job" by a dishonest employee of a legitimate merchant. The thief can procure a victim's credit card number using basic methods such as photocopying receipts or more advanced methods such as using a small electronic device (skimmer) to swipe and store hundreds of victims’ credit card numbers. Common scenarios for skimming are restaurants or bars where the skimmer has possession of the victim's credit card out of their immediate view. The thief may also use a small keypad to unobtrusively transcribe the 3 or 4 digit Card Security Code which is not present on the magnetic strip. Call centers are another area where skimming can easily occur.
Instances of skimming have been reported where the perpetrator has put a device over the card slot of an ATM (automated teller machine), which reads the magnetic strip as the user unknowingly passes their card through it. These devices are often used in conjunction with a miniature camera (inconspicuously attached to the ATM) to read the user's PIN at the same time. This method is being used very frequently in many parts of the world, including South America, Argentina Europe, the Netherlands. Another technique used is a keypad overlay that matches up with the buttons of the legitimate keypad below it and presses them when operated, but records or transmits the keylog of the PIN entered by wireless. The device or group of devices illicitly installed on an ATM are also colloquially known as a "skimmer". Recently-made ATMs now often run a picture of what the slot and keypad are supposed to look like as a background, so that consumers can identify foreign devices attached.
Skimming is difficult for the typical cardholder to detect, but given a large enough sample, it is fairly easy for the card issuer to detect. The issuer collects a list of all the cardholders who have complained about fraudulent transactions, and then uses data mining to discover relationships among them and the merchants they use. For example, if many of the cardholders use a particular merchant, that merchant can be directly investigated. Sophisticated algorithms can also search for patterns of fraud. Merchants must ensure the physical security of their terminals, and penalties for merchants can be severe if they are compromised, ranging from large fines by the issuer to complete exclusion from the system, which can be a death blow to businesses such as restaurants where credit card transactions are the norm.
Using the above safety tips you can help minimize your risk if compromised by a “skim”. It is very difficult to determine if you have been “skimmed”. It does not always occur when a card is taken away from you to complete a transaction. Some “skimmers” will accidentally drop your credit card and as they bend over have a “skimming” device to quickly “skim” your card without you even realizing it. Some “skimmers” will swipe your card in two devices right in front of you. They assume you are not paying attention and/or assume you will think nothing of it. There are numerous ways to conduct a “skim” so make sure you do not get distracted and monitor what employees do while they have possession of your card.
If you suspect you are the victim of a “Skim” DO NOT make a scene. It is best to act as if you suspect nothing. Once away from the area contact your local law enforcement and they can conduct an investigation. If you make a scene a “skimmer” can easily dispose of any evidence before a Deputy arrives on scene. These types of criminals are greedy so you can be certain if they skimmed you they will skim others so a thorough investigation can result in the capture of the device and usually the discovery of accomplices that are also involved.
A “Point of Compromise” is a place that a “skim” occurs at. The banks and law enforcement try to work together to identify “points of compromise” by reviewing the banking activity of customers that have reported fraud. If one place is consistent among a large group of fraud victims that establishment is further investigated, covertly, to catch the “skimmer” in the act.
Common places for “skimming” devices to be placed are ATM machines and Electric gas pumps. The devices are placed for a specific time period (hours to days) and then the device is removed and all information is used to commit fraud. These skimmers sometimes employ the use of tiny surveillance cameras to watch you enter your PIN number. The suspect(s) then can drain your accounts of cash by making ATM withdrawals as opposed to merchandise purchases. If you see signs of skimmer contact your local law enforcement. We can then monitor the location and apprehend the suspect when he/she returns to pick up the device.
Credit card information can also be stolen via computer hacking. A merchant that you made a purchase from can be hacked to steal your information along with thousands of other victims. These are not as common but in reality there is no way to protect yourself 100% from all forms of this type fraud (with the exception of using cash for everything). The keys are to be as careful as possible and check your balances to identify it as soon as possible. If discovered fast enough fraud purchases can be stopped prevent the suspect(s) from completing fraud purchases.