Local banks are warning customers about schemes aimed at stealing your money. If it happens, you lose more than cash, because if the scammers get into your accounts they can wreck your credit.
We live in a plastic world, and our electronic spending makes us greater targets for those trying to steal your money.
Recently, a CBS 17 viewer sent us a phony text appearing to be from Wells Fargo asking the viewer to call the bank because their debit card supposedly had been suspended.
Fortunately the victim realized it was a scam and posted a warning to others using the phony text to alert people.
Bank of America recently sent an email communication to customers in the Raleigh area warning them to be on the alert for various kinds of scams and included a fraud prevention checklist to help its customers avoid criminals.
Whether you are buying a home, purchasing a car, or even applying for a job—your credit report is used and you need to make sure it’s correct.
“It’s extremely important to be aware of your credit and monitor it,” said Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern NC.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to be given access to your free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
The best way to check your credit is at Annual Credit Report.com which offers reports by the three major credit bureaus and allows you to check your credit report for free once a year.
Here are some things to watch out for when you check your credit:
- Look for suspicious activity, especially accounts that you didn’t open.
- Review each entry for accuracy
- Beware of any organization that offers to create a new identity or credit file for you.
- Credit Bureaus do not solicit business by email, telemarketing or by direct mail.
But, some companies do solicit, claiming to be associated with the credit bureau and can check your credit for a fee.
“That’s a huge red flag if anyone says they’ll check your credit for a fee,” said Parker. “You can do it for free so there is no need to pay anybody.”
You also can’t pay anyone to fix your credit if it’s been damaged. If you do, you’re just throwing you money away.
“The best way to fix your credit is to do the hard work,” said Parker. “It will take time, and it can’t be fixed overnight.”
“Be wary of anyone who says they can fix it in minutes or days,” she said.
Some credit card companies offer you the ability to check your credit report through them without it affecting your credit rating.
Be aware as the score they show you might not be as accurate as the one you’ll get if you check with the major credit bureaus yourself.
The BBB says you can also freeze your credit or put a “fraud alert” on your accounts to protect your credit.
A freeze locks down your credit reports, used by lenders to determine your credit worthiness, not your actual credit.
Once you freeze your credit reports, opening new credit will require some advanced planning.
You’ll need to request a temporary “thaw” with all three credit bureaus to allow lenders to access your reports.
A fraud alert flags your credit reports, alerting potential lenders to verify the identity of anyone attempting to open an account in your name.
Fraud alerts are free and don’t interfere with your ability to receive instant credit.
You should also check to make sure no one has established credit using your child’s name as part of an identity fraud scheme.
The BBB says “While credit reporting agencies do not knowingly maintain credit files on minor children, you can contact them directly and they will run reports to ensure your child’s identity is not being used for fraudulent purposes.”
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