Personal finances have become increasingly complex, yet hardly a day goes by that doesnâ€™t involve a financial transaction.Â Realizing that there are those eager to separate consumers from their money and destroy their financial reputation makes financial protection take on a new level of importance.Â Â Â
In recognition of Consumer Protection Week, theÂ NFCC challenges consumers to add a layer of security to their financial future by putting the following do-it-yourself protection tips in place:Â
- Use caution when engaging with social media sites, as even the smallest bit of data or casual comment can provide thieves with enough information to wreck havoc, both personally and financially.Â
- Beware of phishing.Â Learn what to look for to verify that an email is authentic, as crooks can make such communications appear very realistic through logos and web addresses that mirror the actual.
- Suspect that an email is a scam if it asks for personal information or money, even though it appears to be from someone you know or do business with.
- When buying online, make the payment with a credit card instead of a debit card, as credit cards provide more security against fraud.
- Become familiar with consumer rights by reviewing the Fair Credit Protection Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Credit Billing Act, each available at www.ftc.gov.Â
- Guard against identity theft by obtaining your credit report from www.AnnualCreditReport.com.Â
- Open and examine credit card statements for unauthorized transactions, or create access to financial accounts online in order to review statements more frequently.
- Request direct deposit for all checks.Â If not available, consider obtaining a post office box or locked mailbox.
The above steps will move consumers into a much safer place financially. They are easy to implement, and will provide another level of much-needed financial protection.
Gail Cunningham is Vice President of Membership & Public Relations with the NFCC.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.