Per merriam-webster.com, fraud is the intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right; an act of deceiving or misrepresenting; or a person who is not what he or she pretends to be.
Today's world is filled with fraud and fraudsters.
If you have not personally been touched by fraud, hit your knees and thank Abba right this minute.
However, know that it is coming...
I have been involved with recognizing, stopping, investigating, and restoring the damage done by fraudsters since I was in the Navy.
In Personnel, we had to make sure that people completed the proper courses to participate in advancement exams, that they were qualified for the medals and ribbons displayed on their chests, all information is correct to advance to the next paygrade, and that all information of Active Duty, Reserve, Dependent and other Identity cards was correct and updated.
Though not nearly as wide spread in the military as it is in the real world, fraud did - and I am certain still does - exist.
From there to banking, I really was thrown into the ocean of fraud. Let's just say that if you want to learn about fraud, go into banking.
NOT to commit, but to learn how to combat it. Or, perhaps it would be better said, to attempt to combat it.
In my current place of employment, I am one of many Fraud Investigators.
Let's just say it is a never ending party.
Every time we think we catch up to the fraudster's bag of tricks, they have learned or created more.
So, one would think a fraud investigator would never get hit by the rabid epidemic of fraud, right? One would think...
Let's just say it is a never ending party. This investigator has been hit by fraud in some form or fashion at least 10 times now. Yep, I said 10.
And, I have learned all the things one should do to keep everything safe and secure.
Yet, dark and early Monday, (3 am) I was awakened by my financial institution by both a text and a phone call informing me my credit card was hacked.
Then, even darker and earlier on Tuesday (1 am), they reached out again with both text and phone call that my debit card was hacked.
I love my financial institution because they go way above and beyond like that. In both cases, I had a replacement card the next day.
And, the fraud claim is already in the works, the fraud charges stopped in their track, and me coming up with a modified game plan for safety.
My long-winded point is this: no one. Let me say that again: NO ONE is safe from fraud.
We can do the best we can to minimize the damage, but a determined fraudster is going to hit you with everything they have - and then some.
So, what do we do?
Simply, the best we can. Then trust the stop gaps that our financial institutions and others have in place to help keep us safe.
As shared above, NFCU has excellent procedures in place and knock it out of the park with maximum efficiency and time that is not wasted.
My company is pretty darned good, and we work hard every day to improve, and then improve even more.
Unfortunately, so do the fraudsters.
I don't have a bag full of magic tricks and tips, but the best thing I can share with you is this: check your accounts daily, be aware of scams like phishing, know what a spoofed call is, and listen!
Listen to what the person on the other end of the phone is saying. Listen for clues that something is or is not okay.
Listen not only to WHAT is being said, but HOW. Are they trying to speed talk you into something or prevent you from catching something that just ain't right?
Listen to your gut!
That's what we hear multiple times each and every day at work.
If it doesn't feel or sound right, it probably isn't.
Do they protest too much?
Threaten to leave your company?
As good as they are, a fraudster will tell on themselves somewhere in the conversation.
One of the ones I caught in my own personal stuff was due to the background music when the fraudster put me on hold. It just so happens we hear that same background music during the course of our daily work schedule in a big, well-known store. Go figure!
To go further in depth, I would be happy to take this offline with anyone having questions or wanting suggestions.
I simply wanted to take the time to advise that fraud is at an all time high, we are entering the vacay time of year when all will be out traveling and spending money, and that will be followed by all the big holidays coming up.
Keep track of your cards, any online banking you do, payments, purchases you make, check your bills and invoices, and do not ever hesitate to question something.
Trust your gut!
Did I mention be vigilant?
That, truly, cannot not be said often enough.
So, please, keep your eyes and ears open. Do all you can to stay safe. Never hesitate to reach out for assistance. And, never, ever give information to someone without assuring yourself they are who they say they are, you really do owe what they say, and you are more than reasonably sure, they are not a fraudster.
Don't hesitate to hang up if you suspect they are.
Then, please feel free to call that company, bank, or whatever, and ask them for verification!
I promise they don't mind!
Again, if you do have questions, want to know more, or just want some simple tips or advice, you know how to reach me.
Until next time, PLEASE stay safe, well, and fraud-free!