Did you know that an estimated 30 million people in the United States each year are victims of fraud, according to Consumer Protect?
Investopedia lists the most common types of consumer fraud as identity theft, credit and debit card fraud, deceptive interest rate reduction robocalls and fake charities.
Of course, Rocky Mount cellphone customers are not immune, and while there are many schemes that scammers can use to access private data, there also are preventive measures to fight back against them.
US Cellular offers the following anti-fraud tips to help protect yourself and others in the Rocky Mount area:
- Take note of incoming calls: The Federal Trade Commission encourages consumers to watch for fake caller ID information, hang up on a recorded sales pitch and sign up for free scam alerts at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts. Individuals who spot a scam can report it to www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
- When in doubt, ignore: Using a method called SIM swapping, scammers can hijack your mobile phone number to gain access to your text messages and calls. Fortunately, you can combat this by ignoring emails or calls that request personal information, limiting sensitive data that you share online or setting up a PIN or hard-to-guess password on your account that only you would know.
- Stranger danger: You should be skeptical of text messages from strange numbers and contacts. These can be attempts from scammers looking to acquire your device’s electronic serial number to be able to hack into and take over your phone. You should never respond to a text you don’t know or trust.
- Browse with precaution: While using your phone’s online web browser to shop or pay bills, remember to take note of the website’s address. Before you enter financial or other sensitive information on a website, make sure the letters at the beginning of the address appear as “https” or “shttp,” which gives you an added sense of security that you are on a legitimate website.
- Circle of trust: US Cellular customers can allow authorized users access to their account. However, it is best to keep this to a minimum and only the most trusted family members and friends. Account owners can always make changes to their authorized contacts at any time by calling to 1-888-944-9400 or visiting their local US Cellular store. Additional information is available at https://www.uscellular.com/support/know-before-you-go/change-authorized-users.
- Be vigilant: US Cellular uses various mitigation and detection tools to prevent and flag fraudulent activity. But often, customers themselves are the best counter to scammers. If you believe you are the victim of fraud or that an unauthorized user has accessed your account, you should alert local authorities.
Jeremy Taylor is director of sales for US Cellular in eastern North Carolina.