Scams are, according to J. Mark Huffman at ConsumerAffairs.com, are “big business” and is also, unfortunately, a “growing” business.
Huffman expects that scammers will continue to use technology in 2007 to scam unsuspecting consumers.
Consumers need to constantly be on guard, be aware of the each new scam, and each new version of old-time scams. When confronted with asituation that reminds you of what you know to be scam, but the details are slightly different, proceed with caution, or better yet, don’t proceed at all.
Sometimes the only recourse you may have from a scam is to not get taken in by the scam in the first place.
Protect Yourself Against Scams in 2007
1. Educate Yourself
Educating yourself about current scams is one way to avoid being a scam victim.
2. Get to Know Your Financial Institutions
Another way to protect yourself is to be familiar with your financial Institutionnulls basic practices. Do they tend to use postal mail or email to communicate with you? Do you need to be logged in to their site to send them a message?
No financial institution is going to ask you for your password or account number by email, phone or text message. They already have your account number, and access to your online passwords.
Huffman advices that consumers, “Never respond to ‘spam’ email (email from anyone you don’t know). Your bank or credit card company is extremely unlikely to contact you by email. If you have a question about whether an email is genuine, look up the company’s phone number from the telephone book or from a past statement and call.”
4. Do Not Share Personal Information
Huffman also warns about bogus requests for information.
“Never give out personal information (bank account, social security number, PIN, etc) to anyone over the phone or in an email. If someone asks you for this, they are not legitimate,” J. Mark Huffman advised in an email.
Adding additional passwords is another way to protect your accounts from unauthorized access.
Call your bank, credit cards, even your utility companies and request that a password be set to your account. Some institutions will allow you to use a word, not numbers for use on the phone. Keep the passwords somewhere safe and not on your computer.
An account password will protect you from someone calling and making unauthorized changes to your account by phone. Consumers do not realize how easily someone could change their utility bill information and services, or even cancel a department store credit card with minimal information.
6. Information on Paper
Huffman also advises that consumers shred documents with personal information on them, before tossing them in the trash.
Another way to minimize personal information being stolen from discarded documents is to minimize the amount of paper statements you do receive, and log into the web site of your financial institution directly to check statements.