Even the most disciplined individuals can find themselves pulled off the path to financial success through no fault of their own. You can exercise great discipline in saving money each month and adhering to a strict budget, but that does not mean you are immune from the actions of others. While you are saving money and spending wisely, others with malicious intentions could be ruining your efforts at financial success by defrauding you of money. Perhaps the most distressing fact of the matter is that you may not even realize it is happening.
Thieves increasingly use the power of the web to access online bank accounts, open credit cards in the names of other people and take out loans without the target of these schemes even realizing it is happening. If you want to stay on a successful financial path, you must be vigilant and keep yourself protected against fraud.
Monitor Your Credit Score
Your credit score is akin to your annual checkup with your doctor. You visit your primary physician once a year, or more, to get an overall checkup on your health. The doctor looks at your heart, lungs, and other important bodily systems and reports back on your health. A credit score is the same concept for your finances. The three major credit unions track the amount of credit open in your name and your diligence in repaying debts. You are entitled to one free credit report each year from all three major credit unions, so take advantage of this offer and review your number regularly.
By checking in on your credit score, you can make sure every financial asset listed and open line of credit is accurate. If you spot something on there that is not correct, freeze your cards and lines of credit at banks until you can sort out the situation.
Use Fraud Alerts from Banks & Credit Card Companies
While banks and credit card companies are becoming increasingly proactive in monitoring for fraud on your behalf, you still need to opt into their alerts in many cases. Most credit cards now come with fraud alerts that are sent to your inbox, arrive via SMS messaging or even trigger a phone call directly from the card company. Banks are more aggressive than others, using fraud systems that spot potentially fraudulent transactions before you do. If they catch a suspicious transaction, your card will be frozen until you act by calling to validate or deny a purchase.
Review Places before Shopping Online
The Federal Trade Commission recommends that Americans do online searches before shopping with any company. Type their name and/or product name into a search engine with words such as "review," "complaint," or and "scam." This gives you the upper hand in avoiding fraud before you have stumbled into a trap.
Watch Your Email and Mailbox
Investopedia notes that the rising dependence on the Internet has led to a direct increase in the number of online scams circulating around the world. These scammers make use of incentives to get victims to take the bait. Many scammers target the elderly who might not be as tech-savvy or low-income individuals who are wooed by the promise of a financial windfall. However, no one is immune to these scams without vigilance. Never open the links in suspicious emails, and when it comes to letters in the mail, call your bank or other lenders directly to inquire about items received in your mailbox. Never use links or call numbers on mail you receive that look
Thieves are working overtime trying to take hard-earned money away from those who work to support their own lifestyle. If you want to stay on the path to financial success, you can start by staying away from fraud. Your financial advisor at Manhattan Ridge can help you.
The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of Social Advisors, and should not be construed directly or indirectly, as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Due to volatility within the markets mentioned, opinions are subject to change without notice. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed.