The number of institutions that have our data and that been hacked is only growing. The reality is that a lot of our personal information has probably been sold or can be found on the “dark web” used by these crooks.
We have the ability to defend our selves — the fact is that most people don’t do the basics to help themselves. In my role as a Daily Money Manager, I have stop being shocked by the number of auto-debits from subscription services my clients aren’t using and often don’t even know about that are on their credit card statements. To make bill-paying easy they set up auto-payments to make sure the bill got paid. However, that using results in the habit of ignoring the monthly review of your statement.
I also don’t recommend that you set up auto-debits from your checking account either. Instead of giving what amounts to a limited “power of attorney” to come into your account and take out the money you owe, set up automated payments you PUSH OUT from the account using the bill pay portal. While these direct from your checking account systems work well for many American’s, I was behind a man at the bank who had set this up for his mortgage. The payments kept being pulled after he sold his home and now he couldn’t pay his new mortgage. He was told that they only way to stop it was to close down his bank account. What a headache.
I had a similar issue with a charity pulling money from a clients’ account and thankfully, we were able to have them voluntarily terminate the automated transfer. It took MANY phone calls and follow-ups, but finally they stopped. It was a reputable charity, but they have little incentive to respond to requests to terminate donations.
Three things you can do to make sure you don’t become a victim of fraud is:
- Religiously review your credit card statements and address issues immediately.
- Monitor your checking account and balance your checkbook. I’ve recently seen a check for $2,000 debited for $3,000.
- Check your credit reports at least once a year and report any inaccuracies. If you aren’t at a point in your life to need credit, I would consider freezing or locking your credit. To learn more about that you can view this article.
A final step to protect yourself is to make sure you are not using your DEBIT card for any online purchases. Only use a Credit Card that offers the fraud protections should your card number be compromised.
You have the power to protect yourself, but it requires your attention.