How to Protect Yourself. Part 2
This follows on from last week’s post, Four Signs they’re Dirty, Rotten Scammers. This is the “after” post for those poor, sucked-in folks like me, who find they’ve been scammed.
“It’s the Wild, Wild West out there,” said my eldest sister, a lawyer living in London. With her guidance, and a lot of time spent on Google, and the Consumer Affairs website, we figured out how to stop these criminals from taking your details and using them to damage your credit, ‘or in other ways potentially ruining your life’ as my sister put it.
These are the steps you need to take to protect your “personal identity details,” as well as your credit rating.
~ The Bank ~ First and foremost, tell your bank you’ve been scammed.
*suspension of all internet banking.
* to cancel your credit card.
*to have the spending limit on your card reduced.
* to revamp all your security: to change your passwords and pin numbers, to reset your “security questions and answers.”
~ Credit Agencies ~
Tell the top Credit Agencies in your country or area that you will need:
*a “suppression on your credit file.” There will be a limit. In NZ, a file can be suppressed for only ten days, in Australia, it’s twenty one days.
This prevents any activity happening within that time, while you sort it all out.
* a “Credit Alert” put on your file. You will get a message every time credit is being accessed by using your details, anywhere in the world. There is usually an annual subscription fee for the service.
*a “Credit Report” each year from the agencies also. This way you can keep watch to make sure no one is out there running up debt in your name.
*Take your computer to your nearest local tech guy, for a full scan and virus test.
My bank suspended my online banking until such time as I had proved, by way of showing a receipt for work done, that my laptop had been put through ‘a full scan and virus-testing process, by a professional technician.’
The tech guy found “malware” and viruses had been installed on my computer by the scammers. He removed everything and ‘un-ticked the remote control box.’ Whew. Bad guys, none, me, one!
If you were assisted to sign up for an account with “Western Union,” then get in contact with an actual office of Western Union.
*You need to find out whether you really did sign up for a new account, and if you did, then cancel your sign-up, or “flag it.”
In my case, I did not have an account with them. The “Western Union sign-up form” was bogus as well. It was a device used by the scammers to harvest my “security question” and answer, my bank customer number, credit card details, driver’s licence details as well as the “version date.”
*Hot Tip: Change your passwords.
I received advice from an “identity protection agency” called IDCare who are based in Australia but have a hotline for New Zealand callers as well. They advised, that you need to go through your entire online presence and change the passwords to every single address.
*you should start by changing your password with Paypal. ‘You need to protect all the portals to your bank balance.’
*Hot Tip: Request a replacement driver’s licence, as you will get a new version number. Once again, stop the bad guys in their tracks, as they will be unable to sign up for new online accounts in your name.
*Telephone line Security:
*ask yourself, do you need your landline? Is it anything your mobile couldn’t do?
If you think the cost of only having a mobile for all your calls would be prohibitive, look around. There are really competitive rates these days. Look at “separate plans” not “bundles.” You can get deals on internet and free calls that are more reasonable than the cost of a landline.
These scammers had the cheek to ring me back half a dozen times! The lady at my local Vodafone office said, ‘Scams are never run through mobile phones because they have caller identification. So they’re only ever run via landline.’ I have subsequently had my landline disconnected. Bad guys, foiled!
If you are keeping your landline, you need to ask your phone service providers:
*to prevent anyone having your number “ported.”
*to increase security around your phone number.
*request to change the “external IB address” with your current provider.
*Hot Tip: An extra benefit you gain by taking these steps is that you have created a “digital footprint,” an online record of who you’ve contacted. If need be, you can quote the report numbers, and show emails and mobile phone records to show you’ve taken every step possible to safeguard your details.
On a personal level, you can rest assured that you’ve socked it to the bad guys where it hurts.
*One last Hot Tip: Switch to a wallet which blocks illegal credit card scanners
‘The wallets have aluminum lining which blocks the reading or scanning of the Radio Frequency Identification Chip that’s imbedded in credit cards and passports. It’s called RFID Blocking Identity Card Wallet or Credit Card Holder and they have them in stores or on Amazon. (If a scanner gets very close enough to you, it’s not as effective- so you really need to be wary of people around you.) Gift cards should be placed in them as they can be scanned, too and there is one that is made just for passports.’
Thanks for that tip, Claremary P. Sweeney
It’s the summer holidays here and yet, I swear I need a vacation!
Have you ever had to battle after being stung by a scammer? Share your stories of what happened below.
Talk to you later,
Yvette K. Carol