Identity theft and financial fraud cases have soared across the nation and consumers need to be aware of how to protect their finances. As a call to action Consolidated Credit is issuing warnings in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, March 4 -10, 2012. This nationwide campaign is supported at all government levels and by charities to educate Americans on consumer safety.
Consolidated Credit warns consumers about the devastating effects of financial scams. It’s important that consumers take this opportunity to learn how to protect themselves from becoming victims of scams, fraud, and abuse.
According to the Consumer Sentinel Network, credit card fraud is the number one type of identity theft in the U.S., with 17% of all identity theft cases reported linked to credit cards. Florida has the highest number of reported cases, followed by Arizona and Texas. Over 1.1 million adults in the U.S. say they have been a victim of identity fraud. In 2010 alone there was a 12% increase in the number of reported cases.
Consumers need to get informed and protect themselves as much as possible. Fraudsters are becoming more and more deceiving-particularly online-meaning consumers need to be alert at all times. Don’t take unnecessary risks; be smart when it comes to personal finance protection.
Consolidated Credit’s financial experts advise consumers to secure their financial future.
- Monitor monthly statements. Thoroughly look over all financial statements, checking to ensure each transaction can be verified.
- Keep PIN (Personal Identification Number) Personal. Never give out account PIN numbers or online account login information. Giving out PIN numbers or login credentials used to access online accounts leaves your bank accounts vulnerable to criminals or even an angry ex.
- Use reputable websites. When shopping online use only secure reputable websites. Secure website addresses start with “https://” in the URL address bar, rather than the standard “https://.” Never enter account information if you do not see the “s” in the web address bar.
- Shred everything. Any financial documents and credit card statements must be shredded. Account information can be taken off of these documents and used to access personal information.
- Take credit card precautions. A skilled identity thief can make an imprint of a card or call a partner with the information. Once they have the information online purchases can be made almost instantly.
- Don’t hesitate to report a case. There are numerous resources available to consumers to help them fight back. Download the free Identity Theft booklet and visit websites such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to report cases. These agencies are dedicated to helping consumers who have been taken advantage of or scammed.