Criminals in the US and around the world defraud millions of people every year using phone, email, postal mail and internet to trick you into sending money or giving out personal information.

Here are a few things you should know to help avoid fraud:

  • Know who you are dealing with.
  • Know that wiring money is like sending cash
  • Read your monthly statements
  • Only donate to established charities
  • Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know
  • Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back
  • Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information
  • Don’t play a foreign lottery.
  • Shred all documents that show personal, financial or medical information
  • Create passwords that mix letters, numbers and special characters
  • If you shop online, use websites that protect your information with encryption. Encrypted sites start with “https” at the beginning of the web address.
  • If you use public wireless networks, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall on your computer.
  • Password protect your devices like your laptop, cellphone, etc.
  • Avoid money scams that are too good to be true; promises of a job that you can work from home but you have to pay them before they help you; or they send you a check for more than they owed you and ask you to send part of back by wire transfer.
  • Monitor your credit report annually.

For helpful tips and education on protecting your identity, finances and medical information go to www.consumer.ftc.gov