Financial fraud has been with us since ancient times, but it has exploded in the Internet age. According to the 2014 Identity Fraud Study, there is a new identity fraud victim every two seconds.
The more resources you have for fighting fraud, the better. In a blog in November, we gave you tips for Keeping Your Data Secure Online. Another resource we’d like to share with you is StopFraud.gov, the web portal of the U.S. Justice Department’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
StopFraud’s “Protect Yourself” section has helpful information for two groups targeted for fraud ‒ the elderly and armed service members or veterans. These pages contain libraries of pertinent articles, which you can search by topics such as:
- Elder Fraud and Financial Exploitation
- Health/Medicare Fraud
- Identity Theft/Privacy Issues
- Credit-card fraud
- Mortgage fraud
The articles that we saw while reviewing the site are contributed by respected organizations such as the National Council on Aging, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s good to know, because in some cases, parties purporting to help defrauded individuals may be in the scam business themselves.
StopFraud.gov is also a clearinghouse for reporting fraud, with links that allow you to report specific kinds of fraud to the proper government agency or department. In addition, the website includes links to resources for those wishing to identify, report and recover from fraud.
StopFraud.gov also contains educational videos on everything from “phishing” and identity-theft scams to foreclosure scams and money-transfer scams.
The “News” page is probably the least useful part of the site: It’s a collection of Justice Department press releases touting the agency’s successful prosecutions of fraudsters.
StopFraud.Gov is rather loosely organized, especially its “Protect Yourself” pages. As a result, it does require you to spend some time browsing and reading to find topics that are of concern to you and relevant to you, but that bit of work can be a good investment in protecting yourself and your family members against fraud.
There’s lots of other information about fraud available online. Some of these websites, like www.lifelock.com , are in the business of selling fraud protection. That’s not a bad thing; in fact, we’ve suggested that consumers should consider using such services.
On the other hand, more objective information is available online as well, in trusted journalism outlets, for instance, and in government resources like StopFraud.gov.
It’s an unfortunate reality that we are at greater risk than ever from identity theft and other types of fraud that can turn our financial and personal lives upside down. The first step to preventing such fraud is becoming educated about both the threats and the solutions.