Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Beware of the Netflix Scam

I have a traditional business checking account and a regular checking account with my credit union. Within 3 months fraudulent charges have been made on both accounts. I closed the traditional business checking account and opened a new account with another bank. The charges were less than $10 each. Most people would have overlooked the charges and assumed they were correct. Since I am a financial planner, I always check my statements and know how much money I spend and have in my account down to the penny.

I knew immediately the charges were fraudulent because I don’t have a Netflix account. I considered canceling my cable to save money and open a Netflix account. I am glad I didn’t because it would have been harder to prove that the charges were not mine.

This example is a good reason why you should verify charges on all of your bank accounts at least weekly and reconcile all purchases, withdrawals, deposits, and payments made on your bank accounts. This will help you if you became a victim of identity theft.

If fraudulent charges are made on your account you only have a short period of time to report the charges without any liability. I did an internet search and the Netflix scam has been victimizing bank account holders and email users since 2009. According to Symantec over 95 billion phishing e-mails were sent in 2010. Here are 13 tips to recover from email or bank account scams:

1. Beware of emails, links and logos that look suspicious even if part of the link looks valid. If you are not sure if link is valid, cut and paste the link into your browser.
2. Businesses do not contact you by email to use pop-ups to ask for your personal information, account number. Call the company and ask them to verify if they sent you an email.
3. Use caution when downloading files.
4. Know the status of your account including: personal information you provided to the company, status of your account (open, closed, etc.), balances and outstanding charges.
5. Go with your instincts, if you feel like something is wrong and you should not access the link then don’t. It is better to be safe than sorry.
6. Use spam filters on your email accounts. If you click a link by accident close the browser immediately and go to the valid website to access your account. Change your password and notify the company that you received a phishing scam email. Create PINs and passwords that cannot easily be guessed.
7. File a fraud claim with you bank and ask for signature verification (quicker way to resolve the issue) or affidavit form.
8. Place a fraud and/or security alert on your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports if the fraud happened within the past 12 months. Request an extended alert after the initial 90-day alert has expired. Review your credit reports for the next 12 months to verify no additional fraudulent charges have been made on your account.
9. File an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau and your state's Attorney General or Consumer Affairs Office. Also file a police report.
10. Order your checks from your local bank and have the checks sent directly to your bank. When ordering checks don't put your SSN, DOB or phone number on your checks. Don't write your account number on the back of your checks.
11. Check your mailbox regularly and hold mail during vacations.
12. Shred personal information and mix in with other trash.
13. Beware of camera phones that can take pictures of your credit card or check card.

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