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Be Alert to Fraud


Review the various methods of fraud so you can avoid them.

In-person methods:

  • Your wallet is lost/stolen
  • Someone steals your incoming and outgoing mail from your mailbox
  • Someone rummages through your garbage for unshredded credit card offers, 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 who 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."
  • Other times, they just call you with any excuse to lure personal information out of you:
  • "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," (pronounced "fishing") is the act of sending an e-mail that fraudulently represents a legitimate company and "lures" you (hence, the phishing name) into divulging personal and financial information that could then be used for identity theft.
    Review a phishing example.
  • Spyware is remotely installed (through pop-ups and viruses) on any computer you're using and tracks your online activity
  • 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)

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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