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Be Alert to Fraud


In-person methods:

  • Your wallet is lost/stolen
  • Someone steals your incoming and outgoing mail from your mailbox
  • Someone rummages through your garbage for credit card offers and personal documents
  • Theft in the home, usually by someone who has access to your home when you're not there
  • Someone lurking over you at the ATM to see your PIN code

On-the-phone methods:

  • Someone calls and tries a tactic to lure personal information out of you. Sometimes they pretend to represent a company you legitimately do business with:
  • "Urgent notice" example:
    "There is a problem with your account. You must confirm your name, account number and password or we will be forced to close your account today."
  • "Friendly" example:
    "You have just won a $100 gift certificate. Please provide us with your name, address and Social Security number and we will overnight mail it to you."

Online methods:

  • "Phishing," is the act of sending an email that fraudulently represents a legitimate company and "lures" you into divulging personal information that could be used for identity theft.
    Review a phishing example.
  • Spyware is remotely installed through pop-ups and viruses and can track your online activity. Criminals can use this information to gain specific information about your online habits.
  • Key logging software is remotely installed on any computer you're using and tracks which keys you type (e.g., typing a password into a password field). That information can be used to access your financial accounts or personal emails.

Other methods:

  • Thieves buy data from data brokers in an underground market
  • Inside sources steal information from personnel files, payroll records
  • Data recorders skim your credit card when you swipe it (ATMs, retail counters) and records the number so it can be duplicated even though you still hold the original

If you need to report identity theft or fraud, or if you have questions, please call us at phone 1.800.MERRILL (637.7455), or contact your financial advisor.


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