Consumer Fraud Avoidance Tips

Be Proactive in Defending Yourself from Scams and Identity Theft


  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
  • Use online banking to protect yourself.  Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions.
  • Beware of phishing scams.  Never give out personal financial information in an e-mail or over the phone unless you have initiated the contact.
  • Monitor your credit report.  Order a free copy of your credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com

Tips for Safeguarding Your Information


Protect your secrets

  • Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone.  Protect your PINs and password and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically.  Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

Watch for missing mail

  • Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information.  Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen.  Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.

Protect your computer

  • Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date.  When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active.  Also look for an “s” after the “”http” to be sure the website is secure.

Protect your mobile device.

  • Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices.  This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.  Before you donate, sell, or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique.  Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.

If You Suspect Your Identity has Been Stolen


  • Call your bank and credit card issuers immediately so they can start working on closing your accounts and clearing your name.
  • File a police report and call the fraud unit of the three credit-reporting companies

The fraud unit numbers are:

TransUnion: (800) 680-7289

Experian: (888) 397-3742

Equifax: (800) 525-6285

  • Consider placing a victim statement in your credit report
  • Make sure to maintain a log of all the contacts you make with authorities regarding the matter.  Write down names, titles, and phone numbers in case you need to re-contact them or refer to them in future correspondence.
  • For more advice, contact the FTC’s ID Theft Consumer Response Center at 1-877-ID THEFT (1-877-438-4338) or the Federal Trade Commission's identity theft page