and be diligent in protecting themselves against cyber and other mass marketing fraud such as telephone and mail. Mass-marketing fraud schemes usually fall into the following categories:

  • Advance-Fee Fraud - A victim will be promised a substantial benefit--such as a million-dollar prize, lottery winnings or some other item of value--must pay in advance some type of fee before the victim can receive the benefit.
  • Credit-Card Interest Reduction Schemes--Victims are contacted and the company promises to help them lower their credit-card interest rates, but charge fees without effecting actual reductions in the cardholder's interest rate.
  • Bank and Financial Account Schemes--Victims are tricked into providing their bank or financial account data, so the criminal can gain unauthorized access to those accounts and siphon off funds or charge goods to the victim's card.
  • Phishing is where the criminal uses emails and websites that claim to be falsely associated with legitimate banks, financial institutions, or companies to get the Internet user to disclose personal and financial data. Vishing is the telephone equivalent using the same methods.

Safeguard your financial information with these tips:

  • Monitor your bank and credit card transactions daily and read your statements regularly.
  • Be cautious of urgent emails to "verify your account" or "If you don't respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed".
  • Don't click on a link in an email or web page if you suspect the message is not from the actual company. Instead verify by logging on to the website page directly by typing in the web address in your browser.
  • Create strong, complex passwords with at least 10 characters using upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
    Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Don't send money to someone you don't know.
  • Always use a payment option that provides protection, like a credit card. Don't send cash or use a wire transfer service for online purchases.
  • Protect your computer by installing and keeping up-to-date spam filters, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software.
  • In the wake of a natural disaster or crisis, give to established charities than one that seems to have sprung up overnight.

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