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Drew: How to fight fraud – and win

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

With escalating gas prices at the pumps, grocery stores, and all around, the need to protect your money is even more urgent. Every penny, nickel and dollar counts for the average person. Therefore, this article will continue to focus on how you, the average person, can fight against fraudulent attacks on your bank accounts, credit cards, and personal identity. The fight is real, and you want to win the battle.

Information is the air the scammers breathe. Without your email addresses, Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card information or other personal data, a scammer could not reach you or pretend to be you. Therefore, an enormous illegal, international underground economy has surfaced to serve the needs of the scammer.

The wares? More than 15 billion pieces of stolen personal data, say the law enforcement and cybersecurity experts with the firm Digital Shadows. This number sounds massive, but they say it is not. The reason why is that the average person logs in to nearly 200 sites that require passwords or other information. Your computer contains an endless amount of personal data about you which is useful to a scammer. This fuels another arm of this illegal enterprise: data stealing.

In 2021, there were a record 1,862 publicly reported breaches of large organization customer databases says the identity Theft Resource Center. Most of the data ends up in the dark marketplace referenced earlier.

Brian Krebs, a security expert, with KrebsOnSecurity.com says that smartphones are also a target. He says, “Threat actors are really going after people’s phone numbers to hijack their digital lives.”
Therefore, below are some safety tips to help you fight back:

• Set up your digital accounts to require multifactor authentication.
• Freeze your credit at the three major credit bureaus. Do the same for your dependents’ credit. This helps prevent a scammer with your information from making any major transaction in your name or the name of a dependent.
• Do not save credit card numbers online with merchants or service providers.
• Activate biometric locks (facial recognition or fingerprints) on your mobile device to safeguard data if the device is lost or stolen.
• Use antivirus software and perform recommended cybersecurity updates on your devices.
• Because your phone number is increasingly being used to identify you, remove it from as many online accounts as possible. You may need to use your number to open some accounts but go back and remove them later.

Again, due to the serious nature of this topic much of the information is quoted from Identity Theft Resource, KrepsOnSecurity, the special fraud edition of AARP, along with other reputable sources to help everyone Keep an Eye on Safety.