Credit & Debt
Six ways to boost your fraud IQ
Expert reveals how to protect your finances
Your emotional intelligence and IQ may be off the charts, but what about your fraud IQ for spotting fraud attempts and protecting your finances?
"We have a natural tendency to block out awareness about fraud because it makes us feel vulnerable," says Dr. Brad Klontz, a Chase financial education partner. As the co-founder of the Financial Psychology Institute and the publisher of five books on the psychology of money, Klontz has studied attitudes toward money extensively.
"A 'Know/Do' gap exists, where consumers likely know steps they should take to prevent fraud - but they often don't act until it's too late," Klontz says.
Even though it might put us at risk, we avoid learning about fraud because it's uncomfortable, and even painful, adds Klontz.
Now, Klontz is working with Chase to conquer the "Know/Do" gap by showing consumers the simplicity of fraud protection and inspiring more people to help keep their money safe.
Klontz points out a few common misconceptions about fraud protection. "This gap exists because people tend to think protecting from fraud is complicated, that fraud would never happen to you or there's nothing that can be done to help prevent fraud," Klontz says. "But the truth is, you can help protect yourself from fraud with a few simple steps."
Though Chase has you covered with safeguards to help prevent fraud, you can take action to help keep fraudsters at bay.
Klontz's top tips walk you through ways to safeguard your finances:
1 - Sign Up for Account Alerts
Ask your bank to alert you to activity in your accounts -- and ask to receive texts in addition to emails because you often see them more quickly, Klontz says. While you're signing up for these alerts, double-check that your contact information is up to date so you receive the notifications right away.
2 - Switch to Online Statements
Choose to get your statements online instead of through the mail because the online versions have more security controls built in, Klontz says. Online access also allows you to check credit and debit card sites every few days to look for any transactions you don't recognize. A few minutes each week can help relieve hours of unnecessary stress later.
However, use caution when on-the-go. Don't check your accounts using public WiFi because many of those connections aren't protected with encryption, he says.
3 - Guard against Email and Phone Scams
Be wary of emails--even official-looking ones--or calls that ask you for passwords, account numbers and other information that can be used for fraud. Just say no to clicking on links on emails, Klontz says.
"Go to a bank's site yourself instead of opening attachments or hitting a link," he says. "That's just a golden rule of fraud IQ."
4 - Get Savvy with Passwords
Secure your information by using the lock feature and a password on your smartphone or laptop. Use a combination of numbers, letters and symbols to create strong passwords -- and change them regularly.
It may be tempting to use simple passwords you know you'll remember. But if you choose something personal—like birthdates or your kids' names—hackers may be able to break the code. Also, if you use the same password for multiple (or all) of your accounts, finding one password may allow a hacker to access even more of your information. Therefore, use different passwords for different sites, Klontz recommends.
5 - Skip the Swipe with a Chip-Embedded Card
Take advantage of cards with embedded chip technology because they add another layer of security when paying at retailers with chip-card readers, Klontz says. "When you use these cards, there's a single-use code for that purchase. Someone can't take that information and make multiple purchases with a stolen card."
6 - Act Immediately if Something's Fishy
Don't delay when you get a text alert from the bank or you see a transaction you don't recognize. "The more time that goes by, the more likely you'll see other charges occurring," Klontz notes. "You can often resolve these situations relatively quickly if you make them a priority."
Boosting your fraud IQ can be easy, especially because your financial institution is ready to help. "At the core, fraud prevention is a partnership between cardholders and their bank," Klontz says.
Elizabeth Millard is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek and Delta Sky Magazine, among other publications.