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How To Detect Financial Fraud

Personal Capital Pro-Tip: Fraud Detection

Recently, fraud prevention and protection have come into the public eye with a series of high-profile security breaches. The problem is not only the initial breaches but the time it takes the business to admit that they have been victims of such attacks and lost your information.

The unfortunate reality is that the onus is on us as individuals to protect ourselves. While retailers try to mitigate PR damage, you could be losing money – or even worse, your identity.

Fraud is Growing, and its Consequences can be Devastating.

Once your information is accessed it can be used to make fraudulent transactions almost instantly. However, it’s been speculated that the perpetrators may sit and wait with stolen information before they act – a scary prospect if you think you might be in the clear. The consequences of fraud can vary. While some may have to simply replace their credit or debit cards, others may still feel the effects years later with damaged credit. The critical difference between the two scenarios? Early detection by the affected consumer.

Traditional Methods of Fraud Protection

Before we discuss how Personal Capital can help you protect against fraud, we wanted to summarize a few best practices that can help you get into a habit of avoiding fraud.

  • Avoid public ATMs. Skimmers in ATMs are still a popular form of data mining. In particular, avoid any ATM that seems suspicious or has any physical evidence of tampering.
  • Keep your information private. First, keep your ATM PIN number private. Be sure to shred any documents with your personal information before throwing them away, and never give your information to unsolicited emails or telemarketers.
  • When buying online, go credit. Be aware of which payment methods offer more protection. Unfortunately, debit cards offer little in the way of consumer protection when you are a victim of fraud. As such, credit cards should be the primary choice when purchasing online. Most credit card companies have fraud protection services that help people in the unfortunate case that a breach does occur. It will usually involve contacting the police to file an official report and closing the affected accounts. JP Morgan Chase has already reported replacing nearly 2 million cards since the Target breach was announced.

The Personal Capital Fix

The Personal Capital Dashboard was designed to enable you to see all of your accounts in one place. That means real-time data on all transactions that occur on your accounts in an easy to monitor interface. No more remembering multiple passwords, multiple web addresses, and dealing with multiple (and sometimes clunky) user interfaces from banks and credit cards. The great thing about Personal Capital is: the more accounts you link up, the easier it is to have a holistic view of your financial life. And with our iOS and Android mobile applications, you can stay up to date on your most recent transactions no matter where you are.

That’s where fraud protection comes into play. Seeing all of your accounts in one place that can be accessed anytime makes it easier to monitor your transactions and detect fraud as soon as it happens. Our users have reported that our software has helped them to catch fraudulent transactions that they may have otherwise missed.

Our Personal Capital pro-tips:

  • Link all of your accounts.  The Personal Capital Dashboard lets you see all of your accounts in one place, which is the first step to easy monitoring for fraud. Be sure to link even your least active accounts, where it might be easier for a fraudulent transaction to slip by unnoticed.  And don’t forget to link your debit cards too.
  • Monitor transactions frequently. Use small snippets of downtime throughout the day to keep tabs on your accounts, balances, and new transactions. Any suspicious transaction can be a sign of fraud. With fraudsters testing the waters with small transactions before hitting accounts with larger fraud. You may even see transactions from retailers you often frequent, done in the hopes that they will be overlooked.
  • Keep your financial institutions in the loop. You may have had the experience where your bank calls you to verify an “unusual” transaction.  Banks are also on guard for fraud, but their monitoring is not perfect. If you see something suspicious, you can be the one to take the lead to contact your financial institution to ask them questions about potentially fraudulent transactions, rather than waiting for them to close your credit card when you are out and about.

“Vulnerability to fraud is an unfortunate fact of our increasingly complex financial lives. But monitoring for fraud can be easy – and is a great benefit of tracking all of your accounts in one place with Personal Capital.”

Jim Del Favero

Chief Product Officer, Personal Capital

The simple fact is the more you invest in protecting yourself, the greater the chances you will avoid becoming one of the millions of victims. With Personal Capital, checking in weekly (or even daily!) is an easy way to increase the chance you’ll catch something early on. The earlier you are able to detect something suspicious, the easier it will be to safeguard yourself.

Fraud protection: it’s just one more way Personal Capital helps you live a healthier financial life.

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