April is Financial Literacy Month, which makes it a great time to improve your personal knowledge about finances, and to learn how to make your money work smarter and harder. While most talks of financial literacy center around money management and budgeting, another topic has become equally important when we think about financial stability and success: fraud prevention.
Fraudsters are constantly coming up with new and different ways to steal your money, so the list of trending scams is always evolving. With that in mind, I reached out to Reliant’s Risk Manager, Sue Cronenworth, to find out if there were any universal truths and tips that I could share to help you avoid becoming the victim of fraud. Sue helps our members through fraud situations, and she is a wealth of knowledge about fraud prevention.
Here are Sue’s top five tips and truths for protecting yourself against fraud:
- If you receive a text or email message indicating there’s a problem or a prize, use extreme caution in clicking any links. Scammers have been ramping up their use of text messages and emails to collect your personal information. These texts or emails may appear to be coming from Reliant or another business you know; fraudsters try to spoof the email or phone number of legitimate businesses. If you click on a link, you are validating their contact information for you, or worse, are putting your device at risk of downloading malicious code.
- Don’t ever give your online banking login credentials to anyone for any reason. There’s no reason to give this information to anyone who’s not on your account. We will never ask you for this information.
- If you are the victim of fraud, there’s no participation required on your part other than completing our fraud form. We would never call and ask you to perform a test transaction or provide a PIN or one-time verification code as a means of resolving a fraud issue. If anyone contacts you and asks you to do or provide anything to help clear up a fraud issue, hang up and contact us immediately.
- If someone calls you and demands that you pay them with gift cards, don’t comply. That person is a scammer. These callers may give a variety of reasons why you’d need to pay them with gift cards, and often request that you buy gift cards for specific stores or brands. As soon as you provide the scammer with the card information (the numbers and PINs from the cards), the money on the card is gone.
- Be cautious of being asked to deposit or cash a check for someone you don’t personally know. Just remember, you’re responsible for any checks that you cash through your account. If it turns out that there’s a problem with that check (for example, if it’s fraudulent), then you will be responsible for the losses and any fees associated with the transaction.
Every one of us plays a key role in fraud prevention. If you’re ever in doubt about a situation, trust your gut—and contact us directly and immediately to verify! We are here to help!
In the spirit of Financial Literacy Month, I encourage you to visit our online/mobile Financial Education Center, where you can increase your knowledge about topics ranging from basic budgeting, to growing your small business, to financial caregiving—and learn more about protecting yourself from fraud along the way!
We thank you for your constant vigilance—and as always, thank you for your membership!
President & CEO