Your best defense: Monitor financial activity

Monitor activity on a regular basis

Awareness is the key. Your best defense against fraud is to monitor financial activity carefully…and on a regular basis. Use common sense and be wary. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Make an effort to protect yourself or a loved one by following each of these tips.
 
A close-up shot of a stack of credit and debit cards sitting on top of a bank statement.
 
Check your statements
Review your account statements as soon as you receive them. By using online financial services, you can review your transactions more quickly and frequently than waiting for paper statements to be mailed. Notify your financial institution immediately if you notice errors or unauthorized activity. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why.

Always keep your credit card and debit card purchase receipts (including online purchases) and check your credit card and bank statements to make sure the purchase amounts are correct. You can review your transactions more quickly and frequently by going online. Immediately dispute any charges that you did not make by notifying your credit card provider. In addition, consider having duplicate statements sent to a trusted advisor or individual even if you have a power of attorney. This allows an objective third party to review the activity in your account.
 
A close-up shot of a calculator and pen on top of a bank statement.
 
Put disputes in writing
Immediately upon becoming aware of a disputed item, call your financial institution. Always put disputes regarding your credit card statements in writing; otherwise, you may be held legally responsible for the entire amount of the disputed item. Financial institutions have specific instructions for notifying them of an unauthorized transaction. Ask your credit card issuer about their dispute notification requirements.

Consider online banking
Consider signing up for online banking. This will allow you to monitor your account activity at any time. Never tell anyone your online banking password and change it periodically. Don’t use your name, your children’s names, Social Security number, birthdates, anniversary dates, phone numbers, pets’ names, or any other easily guessed information as your online banking username or password.

Check your credit report
Check your credit report for accuracy at least once a year. If a report lists unfamiliar accounts with large credit lines, you may be a victim of identity theft. Also review the “Inquiries” section of your reports. Credit reports also tell you who has reviewed your credit history. If a car dealer in another part of the country has pulled your credit report, for example, you may be the victim of identity theft.

When you obtain your credit report, be sure to keep it in a secure place. It contains a lot of your sensitive financial information.

Helpful articles

Read these articles about safety tips when using an ATM or your debit card.

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