Fraud happens, but it’s not always unavoidable. When it comes to protecting your financial well-being, and therefore the well-being of your family, there are several simple steps you can take to secure your financial information. If you suspect that you may be a victim of fraud, you should contact your financial institution as well as an experienced team of lawyers, such as Irwin Mitchell. But before fraud happens, here’s what you can do to prevent it. 1. Be vigilant at cash machines. Card fraud at cash machines is always a concern for consumers, and the methods that fraudsters use to get access to your funds are constantly evolving. One of the most well-known ways to prevent this kind of fraud is to cover the key pad as you enter your PIN and look over your shoulder to make sure that no one is standing too close to you as you withdraw funds or check your account status. However, you should also be wary of card-reading devices that can be easily fitted over an ATM’s slots. To be sure, it is best to look for machines that are located inside a building with guarded access. 2. Know your bank’s contact policy. As many crime and fraud lawyers will tell you, con artists sometimes will create “dummy” emails that appear to come from your bank asking for your online banking ID, account number, or password. You should never give this kind of information via email, and remember that links to secure sites will always display a padlock in the address bar or status bar of your browser. As an added precaution, you should check with your bank and ask about their contact policy. Some banks will only contact you via telephone while others will only send specific kinds of messages, such as balance alerts. If you know how your bank works, you can thwart would-be fraud perpetrators. 3. Always read your bank statements. In the current economy, it is common for consumers to stop using their credit cards and pay cash for all of their purchases. However, even if you are one of these users who have chosen to cut back on card purchases, you should still be keeping an eye on your bank statement to make sure that no fraudulent charges are made using your credit or debit card. 4. Keep an eye on your post. Or ask someone else to do it for you. If still receive a paper statement in the post, you should be mindful of what time of the month it usually arrives. If it hasn’t turned up for some reason, you should contact your bank immediately so that you can sort out whether it wasn’t sent or if it was possibly stolen. And if you have neighbours whom you know well, it may be smart to ask them to keep an eye on your postbox when you are away. 5. Discard of your financial documents carefully. When you are done with those paper statements, and any other financial documentation that you have, remember not to simply toss them in the trash. To make sure that fraudsters can’t use your information against you, shred any papers that contain sensitive information, such as your account numbers and passwords. Or to save time, contact your bank and tell them that you want to go paperless so that you can store all of your information electronically. The more you know about how fraud happens, the better chances you’ll have at avoiding it altogether. Remember to stay up-to-date on fraud protection and to keep a close eye on your bank accounts so that you can keep your hard-earned money protected.
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