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Don’t Be Scammed — Part 3: Prevention

Don’t Be Scammed — Part 3: Prevention
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(Editor's Note: This is the third in a three-part series on avoiding financial fraud of all types. Check out Part I here and check out Part II here.)

 

Given the cyber world we live in, expect that your personal information has been stolen many times. You are lucky if you haven’t had several incidents already. What do you do to protect yourself?

 

Create complex passwords and change them regularly. Yes, it’s a pain, but less painful than having your identity stolen.

 

Go directly to the source. If you have reason to wonder whether a contact is real, hang up, delete email, or close the door and you initiate the contact by using a reliable source to contact the person or institution in question. Do not use the contact information given to you by the person talking or emailing you.

 

Use credit cards instead of debit cards. Credit cards are not direct routes to your money like debit cards are. Credit cards have protections and limitations.

 

Set alerts on all your accounts to warn you when a transaction takes place. I learned of a theft once when I received an email alert that a charge had been made on my card. I was able to immediately jump into action and shut down the transaction.

 

Use checks sparingly. A stolen check is direct access to your cash.

 

Ensure you are using the correct website and that the site is secure with “https” or the locked padlock symbol in the address.

 

Have the best security protection on your computer and keep it updated.

 

Protect your information on social media apps. Be careful about what you share. You are your own worst enemy about sharing information.

 

Shred papers and mail before you trash them. Protect your incoming mail from theft.

 

Never click on a link or attachment in an email unless you verify the person or company sending the email.

 

Always assume a crook when you do not know the person or contact personally. Even calls and emails that appear to be friends or family can be fake. Always verify identities.

 

Trust no one.

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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom retired from the Air Force in 2000 and joined the MOAA team in 2006. His responsibilities include researching and answering member inquiries regarding military benefits, health care, survivor issues, and financial concerns.