Tag: FRAUD

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Trulioo Review: The Global Identity Verification Company Helping Businesses Fight Fraud

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Trulioo Review

Having the proper level of online security in place to guard against fraud is something your customers expect of you. In the digital space, trust and security are very important to your customers, but it’s also important for you to verify customers’ identity to keep your business safe.

Trulioo is a global identification verification company that provides advanced identification verification analytics and helps businesses prevent the risk of fraud and comply with cross-border anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) rules.

Trulioo’s service offers comprehensive identity intelligence data from more than 100 trusted sources all over the world, and the company has the ability to verify over 4 billion people in more than 60 countries.

In this review, we’ll go over the features of Trulioo’s solutions, along with how their service works and how it stacks up against other identity verification companies in the industry.

Overview of Trulioo’s Service

Trulioo’s main goal is to help their clients build a framework of trust and security online. They focus on trust, privacy, and inclusion. There are three main solutions Trulioo provides, which are highlighted below.

Identity Verification – Trulioo’s identity verification solution is called GlobalGateway, an international electronic identity verification product designed to meet anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) rules and compliance requirements. GlobalGateway minimizes the risk of online fraud with its identity and age verification features, and it has flexible integration options.

Data Exchange – Trulioo’s Data Exchange solution allows their customers to safely select data partners and clients who are interested in providing access to consumer data for electronic identification verification (eIDV).

Customers can search through the database to see which potential partners are verified or not verified and earn new revenue by monetizing their data through hundreds of global customers.

AML Watchlist Services – The AML (anti-money laundering) watchlist is a list of individuals who are suspected (or convicted) of various financial crimes and restricted from doing business in certain countries. These lists originate from government sources, international regulators, and law enforcement agencies.

Trulioo’s comprehensive global AML watchlist allows financial service providers and financial institutions to meet compliance rules with real-time watchlist checks against known or suspected entities and individuals that are associated with risky activities like money laundering, terrorism, financial fraud, arms proliferation, drug trafficking, or politically exposed persons (PEPs).

How Trulioo Works

Trulioo uses quality sources, including government, credit, utility, and telco, to fuel the data for their solutions. They work with leading data source providers to ensure the integrity of their service.

Companies interested in trying out Trulioo’s solutions can request a demo at any time. There are two main ways to use Trulioo’s service.

Online Portal – Trulioo has an online portal for their GlobalGateway product that allows customers to easily verify people from the customer’s own web browser. The portal provides instant identity and address verification in more than 60 countries, and customers can access information from up to 200 data sources around the world.

The portal also provides automated watchlist checking and won’t take up any space on your computer since there is no software to be installed.

Open APIs – An API, or application program interface, is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building a software application. This allows Trulioo customers to implement the GlobalGateway platform into their own online environment.

How Much Trulioo Costs

Trulioo offers free 7-day trials for their services with limited access so customers can give their software a try before committing to making a purchase. They also allow you to book a demo directly from their website.

There are three levels of pricing for the GlobalGateway product:

National – $19 per month

International – $79 per month

Enterprise – Contact Trulioo for pricing

Transparency Levels

Trulioo openly shares a lot of information about their products right on their website, including their prices, with the exception of their enterprise level monthly subscription. In-depth brochures, product videos, reference papers, and more can also be easily accessed from their website.

They invite companies to reach out to them with questions, comments, or concerns and have support teams available 24/7 in many countries.

For additional information, Trulioo has a helpful FAQ page with information about their products, how they collect data, and more.

Alternative Identity Verification Services

Identity verification services like Trulioo create a safe and secure environment for businesses and their customers. Here are two other companies that offer similar solutions and products to Trulioo.

Jumio

Jumio offers digital identity verification services to businesses so they can complete transactions safely and securely. They service a wide variety of industries, including finance, retail, travel, and gaming, and authenticate identification credentials issued by more than 130 countries.

Veridu

Veridu provides identity verification solutions to prevent fraud and solve all issues faced by e-commerce companies like verified onboarding, verified transactions, and verified activity. Veridu has free demos available on their site so potential users can test their services and view what it looks like from a customer’s perspective.

Final Word

Trulioo offers a comprehensive identification service that solves online identity verification challenges and fraud risks that businesses face. Trulioo uses real and reliable data sources, and their GlobalGateway product is easy to implement.

 

Unlike other identification verification companies, Trulioo openly offers a free trial on their site along with pricing information for their services so potential customers can test out their product and obtain a realistic idea of how it will fit into their budget.

Chonce Maddox
Chonce Maddox |

Chonce Maddox is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Chonce at chonce@magnifymoney.com

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7 FinTech Startups Helping Businesses Fight Fraud

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

fraud identity theft hacker

Whether it’s a small shop or a multinational company, businesses must constantly have their guard up to protect against fraud. Installing security cameras, verifying dollar bills aren’t counterfeit, and hiring a security guard to prevent shoplifting can all help with physical fraud. But as commerce and banking continue to go online, digital security is critically important as well.

LexisNexis’ 2016 True Cost of Fraud study focuses on U.S. merchants. The study reveals businesses reported an increase in the cost of fraud as a percentage of annual revenue for the third year in a row.

On average, companies have dealt with nearly 650 fraudulent purchase attempts each month, and over 200 of those are successful. Increasingly, fraudulent purchases are coming from remote channels, either from mobile devices or other online methods.

Combating in-person, online, and mobile-transaction fraud can be an exhausting process, and several financial technology (FinTech) companies are working to help businesses outsmart thieves and win the fight.

1. Feedzai

Feedzai

Feedzai uses machine learning and big-data analysis to help companies prevent fraud while managing payment processing, opening new customers accounts, underwriting merchant accounts, securing marketplaces, and validating customers.

Feedzai claims its Fraud Prevention That Learns technology, which bases its decisions on historical and real-time behavioral profiling, can detect fraud up to 10 days earlier than the competition, and identify 61% more fraud with lower false alarms.

2. IdentityMind Global

IdentityMind Global

IdentityMind Global has a platform that payment service providers, online merchants, and financial institutions can use to identify and prevent fraudulent purchases, botnets, phishing attempts, account takeovers, and other types of attacks in real time.

The platform also offers anti-money laundering (AML), know your customer (KYC), and other risk management services to companies, including Bitcoin exchanges and internet lenders.

3. InAuth

InAuth

InAuth is a risk management and fraud-detection and -prevention platform for the banking, payments, health care, e-commerce, and mobile commerce industries. Large companies can also use it to secure and identify employees’ devices and information.

InAuth’s InExchange service allows businesses from different industries to share positive and negative information about devices, helping companies determine whether or not the device has been linked to fraudulent activity in the past. InAuth also works to identify when devices are infected with malware or crimeware, and whether or not it’s a rooted or jailbroken device, potential signs of fraudulent use.

4. Jumio

Jumio

Available for merchants in the retail, travel, gaming, finance, telecom, and sharing economy industries, Jumio offers digital identification verification, mobile checkout, and form-filling software. Two of its three products can help prevent fraud.

Netverify helps authenticate potential customers by letting them take a picture of their photo ID and use their phone or computer to scan their face. The software verifies that the person matches the photo in the ID. BAM Checkout lets customers make mobile purchases by taking pictures of their credit or debit card and driver’s license. The software compares the names on the ID and card, and can help prevent fraud while creating an easy checkout process for customers. Jumio also has a third service, Fastfill, which allows customers to quickly fill in their information by snapping a picture of an ID card.

While Jumio filed chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2016 due to some reported financial irregularities within the company, Jumio’s assets were acquired by Centana Growth Partners. Under this new umbrella, Jumio does seem to have steadied itself and raised an additional $15 million from Centana in August 2016.

5. iovation

 

iovation

iovation delivers device-based fraud prevention and authentication services to help prevent mobile and online fraud. The service automatically collects information about a device. This information is used to visit a company’s site and decide whether or not they should allow, deny, or conduct a manual review of a transaction. For example, iovation may notice a device was used to make over $1,200 of purchases in the previous 12 hours, check to see if a phone number is connected to more than three devices, and see if this purchase is coming from a high-risk location.

Using iovation’s fraud prevention service, companies can require suspicious users to go through additional identification protocol or prevent a transaction outright. They can also use iovationScore, a predictive risk score, to help them identify good and bad customers. As a result, they make a checkout experience smoother for good customers, by letting them skip a security check, for example. The scoring system uses real-time machine learning to monitor billions of transactions globally and increase its predictive capabilities.

6. BioCatch

BioCatch

BioCatch has created cloud-based technology that builds user profiles based on over 500 cognitive parameters, including behavioral patterns. By learning what it looks like when fraudsters create accounts, purchase products, or browse websites, BioCatch can help detect and stop future potential frauds. BioCatch can also help detect when someone takes over a legitimate account by comparing a user’s normal behaviors, including typing speed or cursor movement, to behaviors during the fraudulent session.

7. Trulioo

Trulioo

Canadian startup, Trulioo, uses data from over 140 sources to collect and share information on over 3 billion people, making it one of the largest consumer data companies in the world. E-commerce stores can use Trulioo to verify new customers, reducing the risk of fraudulent purchases and subsequent chargebacks. Financial institutions can use Trulioo’s data to help them meet AML and KYC identity verification requirements.

Louis DeNicola
Louis DeNicola |

Louis DeNicola is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Louis at louis@magnifymoney.com

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How the Wells Fargo Scandal Could Impact Your Credit Score

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Wells Fargo Bank

Since 2011, roughly 2.1 million accounts were opened by Wells Fargo Bank for existing bank customers who didn’t actually intend to apply for them on their own. While some legislators are calling for the company’s leadership to face further scrutiny in the wake of the scandal, the bank’s customers are left wondering how their finances will be impacted in the long term.

If you’re a Wells Fargo customer, you probably have just one question:

What should I do if I’m one of the bank’s customers who ended up with accounts for which I never applied and what’s best for my credit scores?

We asked our resident credit expert John Ulzheimer to weigh in:

The fake accounts opened by Wells Fargo employees fell into four separate buckets of account types, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Three of those four account types could result in some sort of credit score reduction: Deposit accounts (checking, saving); Credit card accounts; debit card accounts.

Credit Card Accounts

According to the CFPB, Wells Fargo submitted roughly 565,443 credit card applications that “may not have been authorized.” The application likely resulted in a credit report being pulled and a credit inquiry occurring, which as I explained above can cause a score to go down, albeit a minor decrease and in some cases has long since been removed. The more meaningful issue regarding credit cards is what to do with the open credit card account that is almost guaranteed to be on your three credit reports.

The impact of the credit card account can fall into one of three categories as it pertains to your credit scores; positive, negative or neutral.

Positive impact: If the account has no balance and a large credit limit then it’s very likely helping your credit scores because of the positive influence it’s having on your credit card balance-to-limit ratios. If this is the case then leaving the account open, assuming you actually don’t mind having it, may be the best course of action especially if you’re about to go out and apply for some sort of credit and need the best credit scores possible.

Negative impact: If the credit card account is relatively new then it may be lowering your scores because it is lowering the average age of the accounts on your reports. Closing the account isn’t going to change that because closed accounts still have a “date opened” and a young closed account is considered the same way that a young but open account is considered. If this is causing too much of a score problem then asking that it be removed may be your best bet. The deletion will back out any impact on your scores.

Neutral impact: If the credit card is unremarkable then it is likely not having any measurable impact on your credit scores. So, no huge credit limit helping your balance-to-limit ratios and the age of the account isn’t helping or hurting your scores.

In that case you can either live with the account and leave it open or you can close it or perhaps even ask that it be removed.

Deposit Accounts and Debit Card Accounts

According to the CFPB Wells Fargo opened roughly 1.53 million deposit accounts and an undisclosed number of debit card accounts that may not have been authorized by the customer. Deposit accounts generally include checking, savings and money market accounts…any place where you can make a deposit. Deposit accounts and debit cards are never ever reported to the credit reporting agencies so if one was opened in your name it’s not on your credit reports.

However, if the bank pulled a credit report prior to opening the deposit account or issuing the debit card (not unheard of) then there could be a credit inquiry on your report that you didn’t instigate. If that happened then there’s a chance your credit score went down as a result. Having said that, the inquiry would fall into one of these 3 categories and would be considered accordingly…

  • If the inquiry is over 24 months old then it has already been deleted by the credit bureau/s and is no longer being considered by any credit scoring systems.
  • If it is between 12-23 months old then it is still on your credit report/s, but is not being considered by any credit scoring systems.
  • If it is under 12 months old then it is being seen and could result in a lower credit score on that one credit report. If possible, I’d ask that any unauthorized inquiries be removed because they have no redeeming value. Point being, inquiries never help your scores.

While it was not mentioned in the CFPB’s Consent Order, in many scenarios overdraft protection on checking accounts is reported to the credit reporting agencies as an unused installment loan, normally with a line of no more than a few hundred dollars.

If that did, in fact, occur with these Wells Fargo checking accounts then the installment loan could result in a lower score but only if that loan is significantly lowering the average age of the accounts on your credit reports. The age of your credit history factors into your credit score. If it’s too low, it could drag your score down.

John Ulzheimer
John Ulzheimer |

John Ulzheimer is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email John here

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What to Do When a Family Member Steals Your Identity

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

What to Do When a Family Member Steals Your Identity

Imagine you’re 20 years old and you’re ready to open your first credit card.  You fill out application after application, but you’re constantly rejected. Looking for a reason, you pull your credit report and find that your credit has already been established — and wrecked — by none other than your parents.

This scenario isn’t all that uncommon. It’s a case of so-called “familiar fraud,” which occurs when the victim knows or is related to the person who steals their identity. Children are an especially easy target for family members, because they are much less likely to be vigilant about their credit history and their personal information is often easily accessible.

In fact, familiar fraud is five times more likely to happen to teenagers, according to a 2015 study by Javelin Strategy & Research. Child identity theft by a relative can be a touchy issue for obvious reasons. In many cases, the parent may have good intentions and may not even think what they have done is wrong.

“[Parents] don’t really necessarily see it as a crime or see it as harmful until later,” says Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a consumer protection group. “[They say] ‘My credit is ruined and I have to keep lights in the house so I’m going to use my kid’s [information]. They are benefiting from it and they’re my kid anyway.’” If the parent isn’t able to pay their debts off, they can wind up doing more harm than good.

And when children find out that their credit has been ruined, it’s not an easy matter to rectify. More than one-third of young people who fall victim to familiar fraud only find out when debt collectors start calling, and another 7% find out when they are rejected for new credit.

Victims of familiar fraud could report the crime to relieve themselves of the debt. Victims of identity theft probably wouldn’t hesitate to file a police report about an anonymous hacker. The story changes when the hacker is their parent or a sibling.

So what do you do if you realize that a family member has used your personal information to open financial accounts in your name?

Here are some steps to follow:

Create a paper trail.

The key to getting fraudulent accounts removed from your credit history is to create a paper trail showing you were the victim of identity theft. Start your paper trail by filing a report with the police and filing a report online or by phone with the Federal Trade Commission. Make copies of all of your reports, Velasquez recommends.

If you know a family member or friend stole your identity and you’re nervous about the idea of going to the police, consider this: Filing a police report doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pressing criminal charges against your family member.

“Creating a report is creating a record of the theft so that the victim can prove the debt is not theirs,” says Adam G. Singer, a consumer attorney located in New York City. “That is a matter of civil law. If a person were to press charges, it would then become a matter of criminal law.”

Contact each lender individually.

Make a list of all the fraudulent accounts that have been opened under your name and contact each lender or debt collections firm individually. Explain that the charges were fraudulent and that you would like to dispute them.

Even if you have a copy of your police report and an FTC complaint handy, the lenders may ask you to provide further proof that the accounts weren’t opened by you.

This could mean bringing a birth certificate that proves you were a minor when the fake account was created or documentation that shows  you weren’t living at the address or in the area where the account was created. Make sure to take notes on all of the conversations that you have with any institutions along the way.

Add a fraud alert to your credit report.

Protect yourself from future fraud by adding a fraud alert to your credit reports. Contact one of the three credit reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax — to place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report. When you have an alert on your report, a business has to verify your identity before it issues credit. This makes it more difficult for someone else to open more accounts in your name.

When you contact one credit bureau and request a fraud alert, the alert will also be applied to your files at the other two bureaus as well. You can extend the alert to stay in effect for up to seven years after filing a police report or filling out a complaint form on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Alternatively, you could consider a credit freeze.

When your credit is frozen, no one can open a new line of credit under your name unless you agree to thaw your account. Fees depend on the state, but victims of identity theft can usually ask to have those fees waived.

Make credit checks a monthly ritual.

Many young people don’t realize their identity was stolen to open financial accounts until debt collectors begin calling. It’s important to start tracking your credit history early, says Karen C. Altfest, a financial adviser with Altfest Personal Wealth Management.

“You have to know what’s in your accounts and you have to know what’s going on,” she says.

There are some identity theft protection services that charge monthly fees to monitor your credit year-round. But you can also use free services like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame to check your credit report for free and without penalties to your score.

At the very least, comb through your monthly financial statements and make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary. Another easy tip is to ask your bank to alert you anytime charges over a certain dollar amount are made on your account.

Brittney Laryea
Brittney Laryea |

Brittney Laryea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brittney at brittney@magnifymoney.com

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5 Ways to Avoid ATM Fraud

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

ATM

You’ve probably heard of ATM fraud, and you may even know that it’s on the rise, but did you know that, according to FICO, ATM compromises in the US jumped six-fold in 2015?

We don’t know about you, but that number has us worried.

While there’s not much you can do to completely free yourself from the risk of ATM fraud (other than never use one, of course), there are a couple things you can do to make sure you’re doing everything you can to avoid it.

Here are a couple tips to keep in mind for your next trip to the bank that might help keep you from becoming a statistic.

Tip 1: Go inside

If you need to visit an actual bank branch to get money out of your account anyway, why not head inside and withdraw the money from an actual teller instead of using the machine (or at least use an ATM that’s located inside the branch, rather than ones easily accessible to scammers on the street)? It might take you a couple extra minutes, but you can rest assured no one is stealing your account digits from the machine.

Tip 2: Cover your hand when inputting your pin

If you must use an ATM, be sure to use one that’s at your actual branch, and cover your hand completely when inputting your PIN number in case scammers are using videos to capture your movements. It doesn’t hurt to take a look around the ATM before using it, also, in case any cameras or monitors are within site, although usually they won’t be. Also try removing enough money to hold you over for a while, rather than just a day or so, to cut down on the number of times that you have to use an ATM, in general.

Tip 3: Check your card transactions frequently

While it doesn’t necessarily need to be every morning (although it only takes about a minute, so why not?), it’s a good idea to check in frequently with your checking account to make sure everything looks accurate and to report immediately any fishy activity. The sooner you can trace fraudulent behavior the better, and you’ll be more likely to remember exactly which ATM you retrieved money from the day before rather than a week or two later, as well.

Tip 4: Sign up for account alert technology

If your bank offers them, be sure to sign up for any account alerts that are available. Often this means you’ll receive emails or texts when money is withdrawn over a certain amount or from an account that is rarely used, etc. If it was you doing the withdrawing, great, and if not, you can alert your bank immediately to the fishy activity.

Tip 5: Keep all your information up to date

Signing up for alerts is one thing, but it will be hard for the bank to contact you if you’ve moved or changed your phone number or email address and not updated your information at your bank. Be sure to check with your account every couple months to make sure all your contact details are up to date.

While we’re on the subject, you might want to check out this piece about seven reasons why your debit card makes you a target for fraud, too.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

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Credit Cards, Identity Theft Protection

When Banks Can Refuse to Refund Fraudulent Debit Card Charges

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

ATM

Typically, debit cards that are used as “credit” are offered the same protections as credit cards. This means that if you use your debit card in a store and choose “credit” instead of entering your PIN number, you should receive the same protections as if you used an actual credit card. However, we do encourage you to double check the fine print your bank provides on this matter before assuming your debit card will receive those protections.

But here’s a scenario where your debit card is riskier than your credit card. If you withdrawal money at an ATM (or any store doing cash back) using your PIN number, you have additional risk. If someone steals your pin number with a skimming device at an ATM, then he has direct access to your money. This isn’t like credit card fraud with obnoxious charges you need to dispute. This is your hard-earned cash being taken directly out of your checking account. And if you aren’t careful, you might not be able to recoup your losses.

So, what can you expect if you are a victim of debit card fraud?

Timeline for Being Able to Get Your Money Back

If you are a victim of debit card fraud, you are responsible for the following:

  • $0 if you report the loss or fraud immediately and the card has not been used,
  • Up to $50 if you notify your bank within 48 hours of your lost or stolen card,
  • Up to $500 if you notify the bank with 48 hours and 60 days of your lost or stolen card, and
  • All of the fraudulent charges if you don’t notify the bank until after 60 days.

It’s important you don’t delay in reporting the fraud to your bank if you want to be able to get all of your money back. If you were the victim of theft because the crook skimmed your info and used your PIN, then you may be on the hook for the $50 because you couldn’t report to the bank before the card was used. You didn’t know it had happened until the strange transaction showed up!

It may seem unfair to be responsible for charges that you did not actually charge yourself, but to avoid that scenario and protect yourself, consider taking the following precautionary actions.

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

To protect yourself against debit card fraud, you should do the following:

  • Only use an ATM inside a bank (this will lesson the likelihood that a scanner is on an ATM)
  • Cover your hand when you type your pin into an ATM (to protect yourself against any devices attached to the ATM from getting your PIN)
  • Set up text alerts for each transaction over $0.01 on your card. This way you’ll be immediately alerted if a bogus charge is made
  • Monitor your bank on a regular basis (so you can give notice of fraud immediately)
  • Report stolen funds immediately (so you’re not responsible for the charges)
  • Check-in annually with your bank as to the policies regarding debit card theft (know whether your debit card is specifically protected and to what extent)

While you can notify the bank by phone, it is best to get everything in writing. For purposes of the time requirement, notice is considered given when you put the letter in the mail. It’s even better if you send the mail certified. You can, of course, send notice by mail and call. Whatever you do, keep a record of your communications you have with the bank. This will put you in the best position if you have to escalate your problem.

Remember that if you take the actions listed above, you will be more protected than you otherwise would. Even if you didn’t do anything wrong, like in the example above, you can still find yourself stuck with fraud charges that your bank won’t reverse. These specific steps will help you protect yourself, even when you’re not at fault. This is particularly important if you use your debit card frequently.

Don’t want to use a credit card? Learn how to survive with just debit cards here. 

Debit vs. Credit: How to Decide

Using a debit card forces you to keep your spending in check because you cannot spend more than you have in the bank. However, it may be riskier than using a credit card for the reasons described above. If you’re not sure which is best for you, ask yourself what do you value more – your spending being limited or the additional protections from fraud. If you can control your spending, then you may be better off with a credit card. If you are a spender, however, then take the additional steps listed above to make sure you fully understand your specific liability in the event of debit card fraud. If you feel your bank is behaving unethically and should be refunding you, then reach out to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file a complaint.

Natalie Bacon
Natalie Bacon |

Natalie Bacon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Natalie at natalie@magnifymoney.com

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Identity Theft Protection

What I Learned About Preventing Fraud After 20+ Years in Banking

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

hacker with credit card

Written by Peter Dean, President and CEO of Optimizing Risk LLC

Like many of you, I have been the victim of fraud. I also managed fraud for a major international bank and have spent the last several years teaching banks and corporations around the world how to avoid fraud. Here is my list of the top things that you can do to prevent or reduce the impact of fraud.

1. Always pay with a credit card

The Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liability for any fraudulent use of your credit card to $50. If you paid cash or by check, good luck finding the fraudster, getting a legal judgment against perpetrator or collecting on the judgment.

2. Protect yourself from identity fraud

Keep hard copies of critical information (Social Security number, account numbers, etc) in a safe secure area. For electronic information, encrypt your data. And keep all electronic devices locked when not in use.

When using public Wi-Fi, avoid accessing you banking and other valuable accounts. If your information is intercepted, you may wake up and find your investments sold and funds transferred around the world.

If you see your credit score deteriorating when you have not missed payments nor dramatically increased you credit lines or credit usage, order a copy of your credit report. Check to make sure that someone has not applied for or been granted credit under your name.

Strengthen your passwords. Computers can test millions of password combinations a second. Have a least 12 digits in your password and a different password for every account. Avoid the obvious passwords: numbers in sequence, spouse’s first name, etc.

Finally, you may know the person who steals your identity. Be wary of your new love, roommates and even children. They have access to your mail, files and accounts when you are not looking or because you gave them access.

3. Don’t lend your name to some one else

You may be asked by relatives or friends to lend them your good name and credit history by applying on their behalf for a loan. They will usually guarantee to make all the payments and may even pay you a fee. But if they default, you are responsible for the debt and may be accused of fraud.

4.When buying a car, check to make sure you get everything you paid for and didn’t pay for things you did not request

The car sales person may throw in extra options for free and then charge you on the invoice. Or he may substitute an option that is inferior – charge for a six-cylinder engine when the actual engine has four-cylinders.

To prevent being ripped off, compare your buyer’s order with the invoice attached to the car window. And if you took out a loan to buy the car, your lender may send you a welcome letter listing the special options that the dealership says you purchased. Verify these also.

5. Don’t deposit some else’s check

If someone asks you to deposit their checks into your account and then wire them money, minus your commission, walk away. What happens is the wire transfer funds are received tomorrow, their check bounces two days later and you are responsible for paying back the missing money to the bank.

6. Be wary of false Malware Alerts popping up on your computer

They usually provide a telephone number to call and a button to click. Don’t do either. The result would usually be to either down load malware or convince you to pay to have non-existent malware removed.

Instead, call the software company involved to verify that the alert is valid.

7. Don’t let anyone take over your computer remotely

If you call a trusted customer service number and are transferred to someone who says they want your permission to remotely take over your computer, hang up. The telephone line was probably hacked during the transfer and they want to access your secrets or plant malware on your computer.

8. Know that fraud victims are the preferred targets for new frauds

Many frauds are committed by groups of scammers that keep track of their victims, so they can try different fraud scams on them in the future. Or they may sell your name to other scammers, the same way that a website may sell your name to advertisers.

If you are a recurring victim of fraud, consider having a trusted family member or advisor screen offers you receive.

9. Don’t let your guard down when staying at a hotel

After checking in and receiving your room key in an envelope with your room number on it, place the key in a different pocket than the envelope. If both are stolen, the thief has access to your room and all of your valuables.

When charging a meal in the restaurant to your room, don’t leave the table before giving the signed bill to the waiter. Otherwise, someone can take it and use the information on it to throw a party at your expense.

But if your hamburger morphs into several bottles of Dom Perignon, demand a refund from the hotel, since the signature on the bill will probably not match your signature.

If the signatures do match, all you can do is go back to your room and crash, unless the fraudster emptied your room of the bed and everything else.

Peter Dean Photo (1)Peter Dean is the President and CEO of Optimizing Risk LLC, a company that focuses on consumer credit and fraud risk management. He has provided risk management training to mangers in over 30 countries and has consulted for major banks, credit card organizations and finance companies on five continents. Contact Peter at peter.a.d.dean@gmail.com or reach him on LinkedIn

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Guest Contributor is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Guest at Guest@magnifymoney.com

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Chip And Pin Credit Card Liability Shifts Today

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Today, merchants across America are waking up to new rules on credit and debit card fraud liability. Effective October 1, any merchant who has not upgraded to a chip-and-pin terminal will be liable for any fraud losses. Historically, almost all fraud losses hit the banks. While most large merchants (like Wal-Mart and Target) are ready, many small businesses are not. And they may be surprised by the liability that they are taking.

The United States has historically had some of the weakest fraud protections in place. Most of the world shifted to chip and pin years ago. America stuck with the magnetic stripe, which is a technology from the 1950s. The country was resistant to change for a number of reasons. Merchants were not keen on investing in new card acceptance machines, which would cost billions. Credit card companies were not keen on reissuing hundreds of millions of credit cards. And, in general, fraud losses in the industry were just not that high. Sophisticated fraud algorithms have made detection relatively easy for banks.

However, in recent years the number of major fraud instances has been increasing. And, as the rest of the world migrated away from magnetic stripes, America became increasingly vulnerable. The weakest link in fraud protection also happened to be the world’s largest consumer market.

Why Is A Chip Safer?

The information stored on a magnetic stripe is static. With a simple skimming device, someone could steal your credit card number from your magnetic stripe and use it to make purchases. Pin cards, on the other hand, issue dynamic numbers, making traditional skimming obsolete.

The new terminals and cards will only be reducing the risk for in-person shopping. Shopping online remains high risk, and will likely become even higher risk. Fraudsters tends to go after the easiest targets. Now that America is shifting to chip cards, online transaction targeting will likely increase.

Small Business Risk

A big risk remains with small businesses that have not yet upgraded their terminals. From today, any fraud loss in their store becomes their financial responsibility. And banks are prepared to quickly charge those losses to the small merchants.

Just because fraud losses in the past might have been low, that does not mean fraud losses will remain low. Because big stores have improved their defenses by upgrading, fraudsters with skimming devises will shift their activities towards smaller merchants who are not protected. They should expect increased fraud attacks in the months to come.

Still Not At The European Standard

Despite the big investment, America is still not at the European standard of security, because pin codes are not being used. Instead, pin and signature has been adopted. When traveling overseas, some credit cards still might not work, because pin codes would be required.

Pin codes are most important for offline transactions. If you have ever been in a restaurant in Europe and a waiter brought a terminal to your table, that is likely an offline transaction. The pin code becomes very important, because the machines are able to validate offline transactions with a pin code match.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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Prosper Acquires BillGuard For $30 Million

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Update 3/15/16 – BillGuard is now known as Prosper Daily

BillGuard, a personal finance app that helps users protect against fraud, announced today that it is being acquired by Prosper for $30 million and an undisclosed amount of stock. Prosper is a leading marketplace lender that originates close to $1 billion of personal loans every quarter.

Prosper is making the acquisition for several reasons. The primary reason is that Prosper will have a database of 1.3 million users to target for a loan. Acquisition costs for marketplace lenders have been increasing, and having a proprietary database could be extremely valuable. Other lenders have made similar acquisitions in the past. Avant, a rapidly growing marketplace lender, purchased ReadyForZero to have access to its database of customers.

In addition to customer acquisition, Prosper is also making a talent acquisition. BillGuard is a slick app that has won awards, and Prosper has yet to create an app for its customers. Most marketplace lenders fight hard to originate a single loan, but have limited ways of remaining relevant in the financial lives of their customers. With this acquisition, Prosper will be better able to create a leading app and enhance user engagement.

For BillGuard, the decision to sell seems obvious. The business has raised $16.5 million across three rounds. Although the valuation of BillGuard has not been disclosed, the investors and founders will be able to receive a meaningful cash infusion while still participating in the upside of Prosper, one of the tech unicorns.

BillGuard: From Recurring Transactions To Identity Theft Protection

BillGuard was initially launched by Yaron Samid to deal with the problem of recurring transactions. Americans regularly sign up for products with recurring monthly billing, from gym memberships to magazine subscriptions. We often forget about them, and don’t pay attention to the charges. BillGuard launched to much fanfare when it revealed Americans lose $14.3 billion every year to “grey” charges, or recurring transactions that we ignore. The initial goal of the app was to help people identify these charges so that they can eliminate unwanted costs and save money.

Over time, the app expanded. BillGuard partnered with Experian to create a suite of credit monitoring and identity theft products. For an annual payment of $83.88, users can subscribe to BillGuard Ultimate. It provides your TransUnion score monthly, daily monitoring of all three credit bureaus, theft resolution services and $1 million of insurance in case of theft. The same product, offered by Experian, costs $15.95 per month.

Identity theft continues to generate headlines and fear in America. The Target and Home Depot breach put the risk on the front page of newspapers across the country. BillGuard has capitalized on that growing fear. The app is not just a “me-too” copy of other identity theft products. First, it is mobile only, so it appeals to a different audience. Second, it leverages the mobile phone to create some unique fraud protection services. For example, BillGuard uses your phone to understand where you are located. It then flags potentially fraudulent transactions based upon your location. For example, if your phone is in New York and there is a charge at a grocery store in Florida, the service would trigger an alert.

Most credit and identity theft products do not feel very sophisticated. The products tend to be high margin, and are sold aggressively by lead generation companies. BillGuard has done a good job of feeling very different. The sign-up process is slick, and you can even pay with ApplePay. The user experience is easy to navigate. The app feels modern, and the solutions created by the credit bureaus and small identity theft companies feel ancient in comparison.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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LifeLock Accused Of Deceiving Users And Failing To Protect Their Data

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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This week the FTC took action against LifeLock for violating a 2010 order. LifeLock became famous for advertising its CEO’s Social Security number on television and on billboards. The premise of the advertising was very clever. Because the CEO was so confident in the ability of LifeLock to guarantee protection from identity theft, he felt comfortable sharing his identity with the world. Unfortunately, LifeLock exaggerated its ability to provide protection for $10 per month, and the CEOs identity had been stolen at least 13 times.

The FTC has been very explicit in their indictment of LifeLock and its product. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said “while LifeLock promised consumers complete protection against all types of identity theft, in truth, the protection it actually provided left enough holes that you could drive a truck through it.” Even worse, the company meant to protect consumers from identity protection has weaknesses in its own protection of its users’ data. Although LifeLock was fined $12 million, the FTC claims that LifeLock continued to use misleading advertising and failed to protect user data.

With LifeLock’s product, fraud alerts would be placed on consumers’ credit reports. According to advertising, this would prevent new accounts from being opened. In addition, the service would alert users if a new credit account that reports to credit bureaus is opened. However, according to the FTC, only 17% of fraud uses a method that could be detected or prevented by LifeLock’s services. Users of the service would be completely exposed to the vast majority of identity theft, despite the advertising claims.

Most Common Types Of Fraud

The single most common type of fraud is existing account take-over. This happens when one of your existing credit cards is taken over by a fraudster and they start spending your money. The alerts offered by LifeLock are from the credit bureaus. That means they only have balance data, and not transactional data. You can sign up for fraud alerts for free with most credit card issuers. With these alerts, you can receive a text message or email message every time your card is used. As soon as you see a charge that you do not recognize, you can report the fraud. LifeLock is unable to offer either protections or warnings for this type of fraud.

Medical identity theft is another common form of fraud. When you visit a doctor’s office or hospital, you are often asked to provide your Social Security number. That number is used in case you do not pay your bill on time and collection activity is initiated. A common form of fraud occurs when someone steals your Social Security number and provides it at the hospital. The individual fails to pay the medical bill. Collection agencies will then chase the individual for repayment. A collection item will likely appear on the credit report of the individual whose identity was stolen. LifeLock can not prevent this.

Best Form Of Protection

There are two issues with LifeLock. First, its claims of complete prevention should be ignored. Second, you should not have to pay for the service because there are plenty of free alternatives out there.

To protect against identity take-over, you can sign up for free credit monitoring from websites like CreditKarma. Every time a new account is opened on your credit report, you can receive a notification. With that protection, you will be informed as soon as someone uses your identity to open a new form of credit. If you want an even higher level of protection, you can put a credit freeze on your account. This will make it much more difficult for accounts to be opened, because it will put a fraud alert on your account. However, as the FTC points out, even a fraud freeze can be circumvented by some clever fraudsters. So, whether you have a credit freeze in place or not, you should make sure that you have a monitoring service in place and take action the minute you find an issue.

To protect against account take-over, you should sign up for transaction alerts on your account. We explain how to set up text alerts in this post. With a text alert, you will know every time a transaction takes place.

It is impossible to prevent identity theft. And advertising by LifeLock was not responsible. If you display your Social Security number publicly, you will probably have your identity stolen.

It is possible to take advantage of a lot of free tools to make sure you find out about identity theft quickly. The faster you find out about a breach, the better your ability to minimize losses. And none of these tools require $10 a month to LifeLock.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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