Posted: Chase Sagum | April 13, 2013

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Top 5 Tips for Avoiding Fraud

Retaining a positive credit score is already hard enough as it is without having to worry about fraud. In addition to simply managing your money and your credit in a responsible manner, you also have to worry about paying your monthly bills on time, your debt utilization ratio, the interest you're being charged and more. That's without listing all the things you have to avoid doing in order to retain a decent credit score. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scam artists out there that can take advantage of you if you're not careful. Even though fraud may be the result of a scam and through no fault of your own, it can still cause damage to your credit score. Credit card fraud is especially common now that the Internet has become such a normal way to purchase goods.

The following are five tips that you should keep in mind in order to avoid being the victim of fraud.

Review Your Credit Card Statements

This is the easiest way to detect credit card fraud. Credit card fraud can often happen without you even realizing it. To avoid serious long-term issues, you should always check your statements on a monthly basis. This way, if you have been the victim of credit card fraud, you can stop it as quickly as possible by contacting your credit card provider. If you don't check your statements on a regular basis to make sure that everything is in order, a scam artist can continually make charges to your card without you realizing it, thereby running up your balance and your interest. The longer this goes on for, the more damaging it can be. Be on the lookout for dishonest merchants that charge you for services that you have not purchased or that you have not given permission for.

Don't Conduct Business With Strangers

If you're like most people, then odds are you probably buy products online on occasion. Never purchase items from a seller unless you know the seller personally or by reputation. Do research on the company you are dealing with to make sure that they are a legitimate business. If they aren't, you'll often find negative reviews left by individuals who were victims of their scams. If you can't find any information on the company because there are no reviews, then you should be very careful. Check to see if they have an actual physical address to their name and not just a P.O. box or email address. If they do not have a physical address and they do not have any reviews or outside information online, then you should probably avoid doing business with them.

Wiring Money

You should never wire money to anyone that you don't know. Scam artists will often ask you to wire money to them in return for a service or product. This is because wiring money to someone is like sending cash to them directly. It's also almost impossible to trace the money or to reverse such a transaction, meaning that money is as good as gone once you wire it. There are a number of scams that involve scam artists asking you to deposit their checks and then wire the amount of the check to them. These checks are usually fake. However, it often takes weeks to determine that they are fake, and by that time the scam artist is usually long gone, and you'll be stuck having to pay back the bank.

Be Careful With Your Financial Information

Many scam artists will try to trick you into revealing sensitive financial information to them via phone calls, text messages or emails. Many thieves will actually pose as credit card issuers in order to obtain your credit card number. If you have concerns about your account, call your credit card issuer yourself.

Report Lost or Stolen Cards

Make sure to report any credit cards that you have lost or believe to have been stolen immediately. This way, your credit card issuer can put a hold on your account or cancel the card altogether. Even if you think you have just misplaced it, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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Written by Chase Sagum

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