5 steps to fraud-proof your finances

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Consumers lost more than $5.8 billion in 2021 to fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). That’s a 70 percent increase over fraud loss in 2020, says the FTC, which received nearly 1.4 million reports of identity theft at its Consumer Sentinel Network last year.

 

With those daunting statistics, it may seem almost impossible to avoid an identity thief’s attempts to steal your identity, credit card number, Social Security number and other sensitive, personally identifiable information for fraudulent purposes.

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Fortunately, you can take action to help prevent criminals from committing identity theft and financial fraud under your name. Here are five steps to protect yourself from financial fraud.

1. Secure your phone with log-in identification

If you lose your smartphone, or someone steals it or picks it up for a glance when you’re not looking, you leave yourself open to criminals accessing your online accounts, passwords, stored financial information, emails and more.

 

Eliminate this risk by using log-in identification such as facial recognition, a PIN or fingerprint ID to unlock the phone.

 

Find out: The Top 5 Identity Theft Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

2. Limit what’s in your wallet

AARP recommends removing items from your wallet that identity thieves can sell on the dark web or use for their own nefarious purposes. Keep your wallet contents to only the essentials such as your driver’s license and just one credit and debit card. Leave identity risk items like Medicare and Social Security cards safely stored at home to take when you need them.

 

Find out: Watch Out for These 4 Medicare Scams

3. Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication adds another layer of security to your bank, credit card and other online accounts. For example, with two-factor authentication, you may need to enter a security code, one-time password or QR code sent to your phone or email in addition to your username and password.

 

Add two-factor (TF) or even multi-factor (MF) authentication to online accounts to keep identity thieves and other criminals out.

4. Monitor your credit report

It’s easy to order a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review the report, looking for fraudulent accounts opened under your name. Also watch for unfamiliar hard inquiries, which is when creditors or lenders request access to your credit report to approve or deny a credit application.

 

If you see unfamiliar accounts or hard inquiries you never authorized on your credit report, notify the lender or creditor that the account was opened fraudulently and ask the entity to close the account and stop reporting account information to credit bureaus.

 

Then file a credit report dispute with all three major credit bureaus — EquifaxTransunion and Experian — to request that the fraudulent account be removed from your credit report.

 

Find out: Your Guide to Effective Credit Report Disputes

5. Beef up social media privacy

When your social media accounts are visible to the public, old high school chums wishing to connect can easily find you — but so can criminals looking for personal information they can use to steal your identity or rope you into a scam.

Don’t add your birth date or other personal information that could be used to answer security questions to access other online accounts. Go to the account’s privacy settings to allow only friends or social media connections to view your posts and profile so scammers don’t find your account an easy target.

 

Find out: How to Protect Yourself From Social Media Identity Theft

 

This article originally appeared on Debt.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

More from MediaFeed:

Identity theft & credit card fraud are worst in these states

 

 

 

As the world continues to cope with COVID-19, America is seeing cases of identity theft soar to record highs. Of the 3.2 million reports to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book in 2019, 20% — or 650,572 —are related to identity theft. And already in the first quarter of 2020, reports of fraud and identity theft are up 20.1% from the previous quarter.

The numbers could rise as more people continue to work from home and new reports of coronavirus-related fraud and scams come in.

Among these all-time-high cases, credit card fraud leads the charge.

 

DMEPhotography / istockphoto

 

Identity theft involves the unauthorized access of personal information, such as your name and Social Security number. Account takeover is when a fraudster accesses account information — such as credit card numbers — with the intent of committing fraud on existing accounts.

In 2019, victims reported $160.3 million worth of losses resulting from identity theft, according to the FBI. Credit card fraud made up the overwhelming majority of that $160.3 million.

This number represents only what was reported through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, however, and doesn’t account for reports made directly to field agents.

 

Finder

 

Swiping the competition in 2019 was credit card fraud, which accounted for 41.78% of all identity theft reports to the FTC, followed by other identity theft, which includes fraud conducted via email and social media. Least common was government documents or benefit fraud at 3.54%.

 

Finder

 

 

 

ismagilov / istockphoto

 

Total identity theft: 46.5

Credit card fraud: 18.2

Loan or lease fraud: 4.1

Phone or utilities fraud: 9.4

Bank fraud: 6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 4.2

Government documents or benefits fraud: 2.5

Other identity theft: 9.3

 

RiverNorthPhotography

 

Total identity theft: 54.2

Credit card fraud: 23.6

Loan or lease fraud: 2.7

Phone or utilities fraud: 8.3

Bank fraud: 6.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 7.2

Government documents or benefits fraud: 2.9

Other identity theft: 10.9

 

” DonLand”

 

Total identity theft: 55.1

Credit card fraud: 18.5

Loan or lease fraud: 6

Phone or utilities fraud: 6.9

Bank fraud: 10.2

Employment or tax-related fraud: 6.9

Government documents or benefits fraud: 4.3

Other identity theft: 14.7

 

AnujSahaiPhotography

 

Total identity theft: 58.8

Credit card fraud: 25.1

Loan or lease fraud: 9.3

Phone or utilities fraud: 9.1

Bank fraud: 8.7

Employment or tax-related fraud: 4.3

Government documents or benefits fraud: 2.5

Other identity theft: 13.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 59.2

Credit card fraud: 21.5

Loan or lease fraud: 4.4

Phone or utilities fraud: 11.6

Bank fraud: 9.9

Employment or tax-related fraud: 4.4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 4.6

Other identity theft: 15.1

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 60

Credit card fraud: 17.2

Loan or lease fraud: 3.4

Phone or utilities fraud: 8.5

Bank fraud: 7.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 14.5

Government documents or benefits fraud: 6.5

Other identity theft: 9.7

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 60.5

Credit card fraud: 21.8

Loan or lease fraud: 5.6

Phone or utilities fraud: 9.4

Bank fraud: 10.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 6.6

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3.5

Other identity theft: 16.5

 

JoeChristensen

 

Total identity theft: 66.2

Credit card fraud: 23.3

Loan or lease fraud: 3.6

Phone or utilities fraud: 17

Bank fraud: 8.5

Employment or tax-related fraud: 5.9

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.6

Other identity theft: 15.2

 

David Butler

 

Total identity theft: 68.2

Credit card fraud: 23.6

Loan or lease fraud: 5.9

Phone or utilities fraud: 10

Bank fraud: 12

Employment or tax-related fraud: 11.1

Government documents or benefits fraud: 4.7

Other identity theft: 16.9

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 73.7

Credit card fraud: 25.4

Loan or lease fraud: 7.2

Phone or utilities fraud: 13

Bank fraud: 9.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 6.3

Government documents or benefits fraud: 4.1

Other identity theft: 23.2

 

Chilkoot

 

Total identity theft: 78

Credit card fraud: 31.6

Loan or lease fraud: 9.3

Phone or utilities fraud: 11.5

Bank fraud: 13.3

Employment or tax-related fraud: 7.7

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3.9

Other identity theft: 19.3

 

Getty

 

Total identity theft: 79.5

Credit card fraud: 25.1

Loan or lease fraud: 7.7

Phone or utilities fraud: 8.2

Bank fraud: 24.3

Employment or tax-related fraud: 4.6

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3

Other identity theft: 18.4

 

shanecotee

 

Total identity theft: 79.8

Credit card fraud: 39.9

Loan or lease fraud: 7.2

Phone or utilities fraud: 10

Bank fraud: 12.3

Employment or tax-related fraud: 5.9

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3.3

Other identity theft: 16.7

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 86.3

Credit card fraud: 33.2

Loan or lease fraud: 12.6

Phone or utilities fraud: 11.4

Bank fraud: 11.4

Employment or tax-related fraud: 7.4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3.7

Other identity theft: 25.7

 

FierceAbin

 

Total identity theft: 93.4

Credit card fraud: 38.5

Loan or lease fraud: 9.7

Phone or utilities fraud: 12.2

Bank fraud: 18.2

Employment or tax-related fraud: 9.4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.7

Other identity theft: 23.2

 

4nadia

 

Total identity theft: 93.7

Credit card fraud: 32.6

Loan or lease fraud: 11.7

Phone or utilities fraud: 12

Bank fraud: 14

Employment or tax-related fraud: 9.6

Government documents or benefits fraud: 10.3

Other identity theft: 26.2

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 94.9

Credit card fraud: 33.2

Loan or lease fraud: 12.3

Phone or utilities fraud: 14.2

Bank fraud: 10.8

Employment or tax-related fraud: 7.8

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.8

Other identity theft: 31.2

 

f11photo

 

Total identity theft: 95

Credit card fraud: 36.3

Loan or lease fraud: 7.9

Phone or utilities fraud: 19.5

Bank fraud: 15.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 8.3

Government documents or benefits fraud: 6

Other identity theft: 21.7

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 95.1

Credit card fraud: 44.2

Loan or lease fraud: 12

Phone or utilities fraud: 8.5

Bank fraud: 12.9

Employment or tax-related fraud: 3.9

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3.9

Other identity theft: 28.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 95.8

Credit card fraud: 43.7

Loan or lease fraud: 5.4

Phone or utilities fraud: 25.4

Bank fraud: 11.9

Employment or tax-related fraud: 4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3.9

Other identity theft: 18.1

 

Pixabay.com

 

Total identity theft: 99.6

Credit card fraud: 33.9

Loan or lease fraud: 12.9

Phone or utilities fraud: 13.2

Bank fraud: 16.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 14.9

Government documents or benefits fraud: 6.7

Other identity theft: 24.4

 

Davel5957

 

Total identity theft: 108.2

Credit card fraud: 43.3

Loan or lease fraud: 9.3

Phone or utilities fraud: 18.5

Bank fraud: 13.5

Employment or tax-related fraud: 9.2

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.9

Other identity theft: 29.9

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 108.9

Credit card fraud: 44.6

Loan or lease fraud: 11

Phone or utilities fraud: 15.5

Bank fraud: 16.8

Employment or tax-related fraud: 13.4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.4

Other identity theft: 25.5

 

” Adventure_Photo

 

Total identity theft: 118

Credit card fraud: 48.2

Loan or lease fraud: 16

Phone or utilities fraud: <20 />

Bank fraud: 12.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 8.5

Government documents or benefits fraud: 4.5

Other identity theft: 35.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 120.5

Credit card fraud: 45.8

Loan or lease fraud: 20.3

Phone or utilities fraud: 15.5

Bank fraud: 14.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 7

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3.8

Other identity theft: 40.3

 

tmersh

 

Total identity theft: 120.7

Credit card fraud: 41

Loan or lease fraud: 22.2

Phone or utilities fraud: 19.8

Bank fraud: 16.5

Employment or tax-related fraud: 9.4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.4

Other identity theft: 40.8

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 124.9

Credit card fraud: 49

Loan or lease fraud: 8.5

Phone or utilities fraud: 15.2

Bank fraud: 14.9

Employment or tax-related fraud: 9

Government documents or benefits fraud: 4.3

Other identity theft: 44

 

Rolf_52

 

Total identity theft: 128

Credit card fraud: 58.8

Loan or lease fraud: 13.6

Phone or utilities fraud: 23.3

Bank fraud: 16.2

Employment or tax-related fraud: 12.4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5

Other identity theft: 26.3

 

traveler1116

 

Total identity theft: 135.5

Credit card fraud: 46.9

Loan or lease fraud: 16.2

Phone or utilities fraud: 31

Bank fraud: 13.1

Employment or tax-related fraud: 9.8

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.5

Other identity theft: 40.6

 

haveseen

 

Total identity theft: 146.7

Credit card fraud: 59.7

Loan or lease fraud: 36.4

Phone or utilities fraud: 16.8

Bank fraud: 12.8

Employment or tax-related fraud: 10

Government documents or benefits fraud: 3.7

Other identity theft: 61.7

 

AndreyKrav

 

Total identity theft: 147.6

Credit card fraud: 56.4

Loan or lease fraud: 18.6

Phone or utilities fraud: 20.5

Bank fraud: 15.7

Employment or tax-related fraud: 20.4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 6.3

Other identity theft: 42.9

 

wanderluster

 

Total identity theft: 149.9

Credit card fraud: 40.2

Loan or lease fraud: 23.5

Phone or utilities fraud: 17.7

Bank fraud: 13.5

Employment or tax-related fraud: 12.6

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.3

Other identity theft: 70.5

 

Rdlamkin

 

Total identity theft: 156.2

Credit card fraud: 50.2

Loan or lease fraud: 27.6

Phone or utilities fraud: 18.5

Bank fraud: 15.1

Employment or tax-related fraud: 9.1

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.5

Other identity theft: 68.6

The Memphis, Tennesee-Mississippi-Arkansas Metropolitan statistical area has the fifth highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 6,027.

 

NathanMerrill

 

Total identity theft: 158.4

Credit card fraud: 51.6

Loan or lease fraud: 42.7

Phone or utilities fraud: 17.9

Bank fraud: 12.3

Employment or tax-related fraud: 10.7

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.8

Other identity theft: 66.9

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 163.2

Credit card fraud: 63.7

Loan or lease fraud: 22.5

Phone or utilities fraud: 26.5

Bank fraud: 15.7

Employment or tax-related fraud: 10.2

Government documents or benefits fraud: 6.7

Other identity theft: 52.6

 

weaver1234

 

Total identity theft: 172.4

Credit card fraud: 65.7

Loan or lease fraud: 42.4

Phone or utilities fraud: 21.7

Bank fraud: 14.4

Employment or tax-related fraud: 10.6

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.3

Other identity theft: 65.9

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 177.2

Credit card fraud: 64.7

Loan or lease fraud: 32.6

Phone or utilities fraud: 22.3

Bank fraud: 12.4

Employment or tax-related fraud: 8.7

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.6

Other identity theft: 73

 

” Darwin Brandis”

 

Total identity theft: 182.6

Credit card fraud: 73.9

Loan or lease fraud: 29.5

Phone or utilities fraud: 29.5

Bank fraud: 17.9

Employment or tax-related fraud: 12.3

Government documents or benefits fraud: 7.1

Other identity theft: 57.8

 

ibsky

 

Total identity theft: 186.8

Credit card fraud: 96.6

Loan or lease fraud: 22.8

Phone or utilities fraud: 26.3

Bank fraud: 16.7

Employment or tax-related fraud: 11.1

Government documents or benefits fraud: 7.2

Other identity theft: 49.5

 

Eloi_Omella

 

Total identity theft: 205.1

Credit card fraud: 109.9

Loan or lease fraud: 26.4

Phone or utilities fraud: 26.3

Bank fraud: 16.7

Employment or tax-related fraud: 11.1

Government documents or benefits fraud: 7.2

Other identity theft: 49.5

 

aimintang

 

Total identity theft: 209.7

Credit card fraud: 84.7

Loan or lease fraud: 34.1

Phone or utilities fraud: 33.1

Bank fraud: 21

Employment or tax-related fraud: 11.4

Government documents or benefits fraud: 6.1

Other identity theft: 77.3

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 210.8

Credit card fraud: 71.8

Loan or lease fraud: 49.4

Phone or utilities fraud: 29.8

Bank fraud: 15

Employment or tax-related fraud: 8.1

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.3

Other identity theft: 92

The Columbia, South Carolina Metropolitan statistical area has the seventh highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 3,420.

 

SeanPavonePhoto

 

Total identity theft: 219.6

Credit card fraud: 82.7

Loan or lease fraud: 35.7

Phone or utilities fraud: 33.9

Bank fraud: 20.4

Employment or tax-related fraud: 20

Government documents or benefits fraud: 10.9

Other identity theft: 74.1

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 224.7

Credit card fraud: 86.3

Loan or lease fraud: 34.9

Phone or utilities fraud: 46.1

Bank fraud: 32.5

Employment or tax-related fraud: 8.8

Government documents or benefits fraud: 5.9

Other identity theft: 59.9

 

mdgmorris

 

Total identity theft: 227.6

Credit card fraud: 68.4

Loan or lease fraud: 73.8

Phone or utilities fraud: 33.4

Bank fraud: 13.3

Employment or tax-related fraud: 11.2

Government documents or benefits fraud: 6.3

Other identity theft: 96.4

 

DenisTangneyJr

 

Total identity theft: 251.8

Credit card fraud: 94.4

Loan or lease fraud: 34.4

Phone or utilities fraud: 24.6

Bank fraud: 22.3

Employment or tax-related fraud: 16.8

Government documents or benefits fraud: 8.4

Other identity theft: 104.7

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 253.7

Credit card fraud: 93.3

Loan or lease fraud: 65.9

Phone or utilities fraud: 35.1

Bank fraud: 18.6

Employment or tax-related fraud: 18

Government documents or benefits fraud: 7.2

Other identity theft: 89.4

The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas Metropolitan statistical area has the ninth highest number of credit card fraud reports  in the country at 25,656.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas Metropolitan statistical area has the 10th highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 27,637.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 257.2

Credit card fraud: 130.3

Loan or lease fraud: 31.7

Phone or utilities fraud: 22.1

Bank fraud: 21.7

Employment or tax-related fraud: 17.1

Government documents or benefits fraud: 8.6

Other identity theft: 75.5

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California Metropolitan statistical area has the eight highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 54,553.

 

Art Wager

 

Total identity theft: 301.9

Credit card fraud: 153.9

Loan or lease fraud: 46.1

Phone or utilities fraud: 36.5

Bank fraud: 24.9

Employment or tax-related fraud: 14.9

Government documents or benefits fraud: 9.7

Other identity theft: 91.6

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida Metropolitan statistical area has the third highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 34,458.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Total identity theft: 422.8

Credit card fraud: 175.8

Loan or lease fraud: 94.6

Phone or utilities fraud: 48.5

Bank fraud: 21.3

Employment or tax-related fraud: 12.2

Government documents or benefits fraud: 6.5

Other identity theft: 181.8

  • The Columbus, Georgia-Alabama Metropolitan statistical area has the sixth highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 1,322.
  • The Macon-Bibb County, Georgia Metropolitan statistical area has the fourth highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 1,045.
  • The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia Metropolitan statistical area has the second highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 33,940.
  • The Warner Robins, Georgia Metropolitan statistical area has the number one highest number of credit card fraud reports in the country at 1,281

This article originally appeared on Finder.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

SeanPavonePhoto

 

Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

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