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Protecting Your Family from Fraud


How safe are you from fraud? With the quick pace of technology, fraud is becoming harder and harder to detect and protect yourself from. The days of getting an email from a Nigerian prince asking for money are far in the past. Between criminals getting smarter and AI becoming more accessible, the tactics for trying to steal your assets will become even more tricky.

It’s not just you they are targeting. Every member of your family, from your youngest child to your grandparents are all potential victims or unknowing tools in fraud. Here’s what you need to know and do to protect every member of your family.

Be Educated on Fraud

woman sitting on bed looking at laptopYou are currently doing the first step already, becoming more educated about fraud. Knowledge is the best tool to stopping fraud, preventing getting scammed, and keeping your family safe. 

Being educated on fraud has two parts: being aware of new frauds as they are starting, and knowing about fraud that is targeting your demographics.

A great resource for learning about current fraud trends is the FTC’s website with blog articles all about fraud and scams. With new information regularly, it’s a good place to really learn about scams and how to protect yourself.

As for fraud and scam targeting your demographics, you should stay tuned to your local news and your financial institutions. These can help warn you if scammers are targeting people like you and how to best protect yourself. Demographics can include much more than just age and gender though, such as:

  • Where you live
  • Family status
  • Relationships
  • What social media you use
  • Wealth bracket
  • Where you bank
  • Type of car you have
  • Brand of cell phone
  • What debts you have

Basically, any information a scammer can get about you can be turned around and made into a scam. Pioneer works hard to warn our members of any ongoing scams we see our members encountering. Check in regularly on our website and social media to be warned of any ongoing scam attempts targeting our members.

Set Up Passphrases with Your Family

black father and son having a serious talkA common scam is where a family member or friend’s social media or email is hacked and then they reach out to you asking for money for some emergency. They might claim to be on vacation and lost their wallet, or got in a crash and need money for medical bills, or a hundred other things. In the past, a quick phone call to that person could resolve that problem, asking if they were safe. But the days of that might be coming to an end.

With AI and vocal software becoming much more accessible and advanced, with enough audio or video, scammers could recreate the voice of your loved ones. Then, it isn’t an email, text, or Facebook message you are getting, but a phone call with your child’s voice on the other end telling you they are in trouble. How do you protect against that?

With a passphrase. Indulge your inner spy and set up a safeword or phrase with your family and friends. This should only be used when you need to authenticate yourself and shouldn’t be something you regularly say, but is easily remembered. That way, if you get that phone call saying they are in trouble, you ask, “What’s the passphrase?” If it’s the real person, they can say the passphrase, letting you know it really is them. If they can’t, then it’s probably a scammer.

Some examples to get you thinking on a passphrase include:

  • Screaming Hairy Armadillo
  • I twisted my ear off
  • Mermaid hugging an octopus
  • Green chili on pasta
  • Bubblegum Bugs Bunny

Lock up Your Social Media and Email

woman taking a selfieIt's 2023. It is time to stop using the same password you’ve used since high school and lock up your social media, email, and all online accounts. Having the password “HelloKittyRocks” is not enough to keep your private information safe.

It’s time to take all the steps to protect your information and accounts. Strong passwords, two factor identification preferably with your phone number, and put everything on private. It just takes one loose account to get scammers what they need to go on the attack.

In an ideal world, every single password should be unique, secure, and nonsensical. Make it impossible for scammers to guess or break. Understandably, remembering all those passwords is nearly impossible. So rather than writing it in a book that might get stolen or lost, keep it in a password keeper, a type of software on your devices that stores all your passwords that you keep locked behind a master password. One that should be complex, but you know my heart. That way, you have access to all your accounts and passwords but only need to remember one.

Passwords are like old socks, once they have a hole, it’s time to throw it away. If an account gets breached, change all accounts that use that password. If it’s been guessed once, it will be guessed again.

Pass this information on to your family and friends. If you have children starting to journey through the internet, teach them how to create strong passwords and set up privacy settings on social media. Young children especially are targets online since they often don’t know about scams and fraud.

Stay in Touch with Your Family

three older woman all looking at a phoneEspecially if you have elderly people in your life, stay in touch with them. It’s very sad to hear your grandpa got scammed because he thought he was helping someone in need or got scared because the IRS called him.

By staying in regular contact with your family, you can know and help identify potential threats to their financial safety. For example, if they join a social media platform, you can help educate them on dangers and scams common there. Or if they are planning on going on a trip, you can set up a passphrase with them in case they need help. 

Being in touch can also help protect you in case scammers try to use your family against you. If you get a call from your son in college saying he needs money because he is backpacking through Europe, but you just called him that morning to chat, you know it’s fake.

Protecting Your Family if They Fall Victim

No plan is 100% foolproof, and your family might still get scammed. That could mean losing money or having their identity stolen. If you lost money, contact your financial institution. They can help ensure your accounts are locked and secured so you don’t lose more and help give advice on ways you might get your money back.

If your identity has been stolen, you are in for a bit more work. You’ll need to first shut down your credit so the scammers can’t keep using it by contacting the Credit Bureaus. Then, you need to get a new social security card and number. Finally, you’ll need to contact all the places the scammer used your identity and rectify the mistakes. A lot of work right? Well, Pioneer offers fraud protection to our members with checking accounts, which extends to all of their immediate family, even if they don’t bank with Pioneer!

Learn more about Fraud Protection

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