Fraud, scams, and identity theft are a serious concern for anyone who uses financial services. In today’s digital world, the risk of falling victim to fraud has grown exponentially. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans reported losing more than $1.9 billion to fraud in 2019. To protect yourself from falling prey to scams, fraud, or identity theft, you need to take steps to protect your personal information, recognize warning signs and know what to do if you become a victim. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself against fraud, scams, and identity theft. 

Safeguard your personal information: In most cases, fraudsters ask for personal information, such as your Social Security number, account number, and passwords, which they can use to access your bank and credit card accounts. Never share sensitive details with anyone who calls, e-mails, or texts you, including charities or individuals who claim to represent them. If someone asks for your personal information, always verify their identity first. 

Be suspicious of any unsolicited offers: Be suspicious of any unsolicited offers, whether through email, phone, or social media. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often pose as authority figures or companies and create sense of urgency to get you to act quickly without thinking through. Be particularly cautious if someone asks you to wire funds, buy gift cards, or pay for something with cryptocurrency. If you are unsure, consult with a financial professional before handing over any money. 

Monitor your accounts: Regularly monitoring your financial accounts is an essential step in preventing fraud. Check your bank and credit card statements carefully, verify all transactions, and report any suspicious activity immediately. Configure account alerts, which warn when unusual transactions are posted or when changes are made to your account. 

Keep your devices and software up to date: Regularly updating your computer and mobile device software patches helps control major bugs that could be exploited by hackers. As much as possible, use only trusted, anti-virus software and install every security measure you can. Be particularly cautious of public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Never access personal or financial accounts on such networks. 

Protect your mail and trash: Identity thieves can search through your mailbox or trash to find credit card statements, bills, or personal information to open fraudulent accounts in your name. Keep your mailbox locked and destroyed any identifying information that you no longer need regularly. Shred all paperwork containing personal information, including old credit cards, bank statements, and utility bills, before you dispose of them. 

No one wants to be a victim of fraud, scams, or identity theft. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is by being vigilant and proactive.  

Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc.  Paramount Wealth Management is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.