Proactive tips to prevent familiar fraud from occurring in your relationships
Familiar fraud is one of the most common types of identity theft. Every day we enter into new relationships that can lead to the inadvertent exposure of our personal information to fraudulent activity. From online dating to shared housing and from marriage to separation/divorce, there are key risks that you should proactively manage to help prevent your identity from being stolen.
Be wary of whom you befriend…especially online. There are plenty of criminals who will establish a friendship as a gateway to access sensitive information. You may want to steer clear of someone whose questions pry a little too deep or who is portraying a false sense of trust.
Be wary of whom you date. Social media and dating websites represent a goldmine of potential targets for obtaining personal information under false pretenses. Avoid divulging your full name, address, home/work phone numbers, and any other sensitive information early in the communication process to keep the scammers at bay.
Family & Loved Ones
Safeguard your personal information and financial tools. Familiar fraud accounts for more than one-third of all identity theft cases. Sharing debit/credit cards, passwords, and account access tools can often lead to issues when someone you love makes a poor decision.
Password-protect computers, sensitive files, and mobile devices. Technology has enabled us to access and manage our financial data with ease. Be sure to use the proper security measures to ensure that only authorized individuals have this “easy access.”
Be actively involved in your finances. Never allow someone complete control over your accounts. If you are going to share expenses, discuss financial decisions openly and always review recent account activity.
Engagement & Marriage
Share minimal information with vendors & registries. Bridal shows, gift registries, and giveaway contests often request sensitive information that is poorly secured. Always refrain from providing sensitive information including social insurance numbers and account numbers whenever possible.
Openly discuss your finances. Have a heart-to-heart about your finances before you tie the knot. Discuss financial matters often and have an agreed upon approach.
Prepare for your honeymoon. Plan accordingly using CyberScout’s Travel Tips.
Separation & Divorce
Protect financial accounts. Notify your creditors upon separation. If financially possible, close or refinance all shared accounts. Work directly with your financial institution to protect yourself and maintain access to statements and account activity.
Review current account & credit bureau information. Review your credit reports and establish which debts are outstanding at the time of separation. This will be invaluable down the road when dealing with attorneys, courts, and creditors. Also, consider placing an alert on your credit file with the two major credit reporting agencies.
Consider credit monitoring if you have any concerns about the continued use of your identity and/or accounts. This will keep you informed of any new activity and/or accounts connected to your identity.
Reset passwords. Change all passwords related to financial accounts, email, social media, and mobile devices.
Learn all about the laws. Most consumers assume that the division of debt by the courts ends responsibility for one party or another on contractually joint obligations. This is not the case. Education is the key to reducing your exposure.