Bank, credit card, and identity fraud are more common than ever before, and both businesses and individuals are paying the price. This can make some consumers wary of conducting their financial business – including banking – online.
However, there are many ways you can take control of your own online fraud detection and security. Here’s how:
Review Bank and Credit Card Statements Regularly
Make it a habit to review your bank and credit card statements monthly, or even weekly. Be on the lookout for unusually large purchases or purchases you don’t recall making.
Other red flags include purchases from unknown businesses or purchases made outside of where you live or travel with any frequency. Call your financial institution to learn more about these charges so you can uncover whether or not they are fraudulent.
Sign Up for Text and Email Alerts
Many banking and financial institutions offer the option of text and email alerts. These are sent to your preferred email address or phone number whenever there is a large purchase or other activity on your account such as a password change request, deposit, or transaction between accounts.
This is the fastest and easiest way to stay on top of activity in your accounts. Many credit card companies will go so far as to ask you via text if a suspicious purchase on your account is valid or not, and you can reply with a simple Yes/No to flag or approve that activity.
Activate CardValet for Debit Cards
At Mercer Savings Bank, we offer access to CardValet, a service that helps protect your personal and business debit cards through your mobile device.
CardValet alerts you in real time when your cards are used. You can also restrict when, where, and how your cards are used. Receive alerts on your smartphone when your card is used, restrict use to a specific geographic area, set spending limits, and more. Learn how here.
Notify Financial Institutions When Traveling
Many financial institutions will flag transactions made outside of your regular geographic activity. So if you are going out of state – or especially out of the country – let your financial institution know that you will be making purchases in that area and specify the amount of time that you will be there.
By working with your financial partners to keep them abreast of your movements and purchases, you will reduce the likelihood that a legitimate transaction will be flagged as fraudulent.
Update Passwords Regularly
It goes without saying that you should always update your passwords. However, despite knowing this intellectually, many of us put off this vital step in our online safety arsenal.
According to Pew Research, 41% of online adults have shared the password to one of their online accounts with a friend or family member, and 39% say that they use the same (or very similar) passwords for many of their online accounts. Here are some suggestions on how to create (and update!) strong passwords.
When in Doubt, Consider it Fraud
If at any point someone calls, texts, or emails you asking for your financial information – consider it a scam until you confirm otherwise. Contact your bank, credit card company, online vendor, or other entity directly via phone or by directly typing their website address into your browser – NEVER click on any text or email links.
While surprise lottery wins and inheritances are possible, the truth is that most of these “notices” will be fraudulent. If something sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
Suspicious? Ask the Experts
If you are unsure about any email or request for payment related to banking, call Mercer Savings at 419.586.5158 for advice. Our financial officers are familiar with online banking-related scams, and we would be happy to provide you with an expert opinion.