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Financial fraud is a growing problem that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether it's an unknown caller demanding payment for a bill you never received or a text message telling you to pay just a dollar more to receive a package, these scams can be alarming and can have serious consequences if not avoided.

In this episode of Your Money. Your Mission., Kelly speaks with Anisa Dunn, Senior Vice President of Private Banking for Johnson Financial Group, about how to avoid and stay ahead of financial fraud. Anisa shares some eye-opening stories and provides practical tips to help prevent you from becoming a victim of financial fraud.

According to Anisa, fraudsters are becoming increasingly clever in their tactics to scam people. They may pretend to be a service provider or even a family member, and they often prey on people's emotions or vulnerabilities to gain access to personal information. This is why it's important to have a healthy dose of skepticism when dealing with unsolicited phone calls, texts, or emails.

One way to protect yourself is to use longer passphrases instead of passwords. A passphrase is a much longer phrase that is harder for fraudsters to break into. Anisa recommends phrases that are easy to remember but difficult for others to guess, such as "Ieatpizzasontuesdaysatfive," or "Mydogbiscuitjoinedourfamilyin2015."

Another way to protect yourself is to be wary of strange phone calls, texts, or emails that claim to be from legitimate companies. If you get a text from a number you don't recognize or an email that looks suspicious, don't click on any links provided. Instead, reach out to the company through their website to verify the message's authenticity. Anisa also recommends pulling your annual credit report at least once a year to check for any unusual activity. If you notice something that doesn't look right, report it immediately, and consider putting a block on your cards to prevent further fraudulent activity.

When it comes to payment methods, Anisa advises using credit cards for online shopping instead of debit cards. Credit cards are an extension of credit, whereas debit cards are directly linked to your bank account. This means that if you get tricked into putting your debit card information into a fraudulent website, the money will be withdrawn from your bank account immediately. Using a credit card can provide an extra layer of protection.

Finally, Anisa recommends reporting any suspicious texts or emails as spam and deleting them without opening them. The more you engage with these messages, the more likely you are to receive more of them in the future.

In conclusion, protecting yourself from financial scams and fraud requires vigilance and awareness. By using longer passphrases, verifying messages with service providers, pulling annual credit reports, and avoiding engagement with suspicious messages, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of financial fraud.

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Kathy Ciszewski
Kathy Ciszewski, SVP Private Banking, Racine, WI

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