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Five Ways to Help Protect Your Family from Fraud

Taking these steps can help guard you and your loved ones in today's increasingly digital world.

by Michael W. Brough - October 07, 2019

From listening to music to ordering groceries, almost all aspects of our daily lives are connected to the Internet in some way. Nearly a third of Americans say they’re “almost constantly” online, with 81% using the Internet at least once a day.

But our always-connected nature can come with risks: The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center averages more than 900 complaints a day; the center recorded $2.71 billion in victim losses in 2019.  Here are some ways you can help protect your family online.

  • 1. Learn to spot imposter scams

    Have you ever received a call, text or email purporting to be from your credit card provider regarding suspicious activity detected on your account? It could be a scammer trying to convince you to share sensitive information that would enable them to access your accounts.

    Increasingly, these criminals may be able to spoof a caller ID or email address so it appears that they are legitimate. When in doubt, do not respond. Instead, alert your provider about the suspicious communication. Learn more about how to spot common scams on the Wells Fargo Scams and Cyber Threats page.

  • 2. Manage and monitor your credit

    If your data has been compromised through a security breach, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit file with the three major credit bureaus. Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information on identity theft prevention tips and resources you can share with your family.

    Make a habit of reviewing credit reports for you and your child at least once a year. Look for unauthorized accounts that may have been opened in your names.

    More than 1 million children were victims of identity fraud in 2017, according to one study from banking industry research firm Javelin Strategy & Research.

  • 3. Limit what you share on social media

    Thieves scour social media profiles for clues to security questions, passwords, and other information that could help them impersonate potential victims online.

    First, set your profiles to private—and encourage your family members to do the same. Also, restrict your social media contacts to people you know personally. Finally, watch what information you disclose. Revealing too much personal information in your social profiles can put you at greater risk of identity theft, especially if your bank or other companies use that information to verify your identity.

  • 4. Protect your home network

    Create a strong password for your wireless network in your home. Consider using a unique phrase with a mix of letters and numbers. Avoid using any part of your email address or information shared on social media, like the name of your pet, favorite movie, or anything else someone could easily guess. When you are configuring your router, the Department of Homeland Security recommends choosing the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) setting, which is the strongest encryption option.

  • 5. Stay up to date

    Cybercriminals change their tactics frequently, so families should stay on top of the latest threats. Be sure to work with Wells Fargo Advisors and other financial providers to understand ways to protect yourself as you conduct financial business online.

Michael W. Brough is a Texas-based writer whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today, and other outlets.

Additional Resources

Check out these four additional tips for staying secure while online.

Modeling good financial habits and talking with your kids about money can help them learn lifelong lessons in money management.