Our Fight Against Fraud
In 2020, fraud, identity theft and scams in the United States skyrocketed to a record 4.7 million reports—a 46% increase year-on-year—according to the Consumer Sentinel Network maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Fraud reports, including imposter scams, online shopping scams, sweepstakes, and others, totaled more than 2.2 million reports and over $3.3 billion in losses. Identity theft increased by 113% with more than $1.4 million Americans filing reports about identify theft. Texas ranked among the highest in the country at No. 16 for fraud reports and No. 12 for identify theft reports.
Protecting Fellow Houstonians
At Centrust Investment Holding, we’re committed to protecting the Houston area and neighboring communities from fraud and identity theft. Our team of dedicated “Fraud Champions” continually work to track and mitigate fraud, attempted fraud, account compromise, scams, identity theft, elder abuse and more. As a community bank, we pride ourselves on treating our customers as fellow Texans, neighbors and friends by protecting them and resolving fraud-related issues as quickly as possible.
Spearheading our team of fraud specialists is Bank Officer, Fraud and Legal Specialist, Vickie Hester, whom we recently recognized for her pivotal role in Centrust Investment Holding’s operations and customer protection. As head of the Fraud Strategic Action Group (SAG), Vickie helped establish bank-wide fraud procedures and continuing education to raise awareness of fraud.
10 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Fraud
To reduce the risk and impact of fraud and identity theft, it’s important to:
- Monitor (and consider freezing) your credit
Be sure to monitor your accounts and credit reports closely. Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service to alert you of any changes or suspicious activity. For an additional layer of safety, you can place a long-term or temporary security freeze on your credit to block access to credit reports. Report identity theft and/or stolen government I.D. to your bank to prevent attempted impersonation of your identity to the bank.
- Dispute any unauthorized transactions
Login to your accounts regularly to keep an eye on balances and any unusual account activity. Then work with an Centrust Investment Holding specialist to dispute and resolve any fraudulent transactions.
- Close compromised cards and accounts
Once your account has been compromised, you’ll need to replace your debit or credit card as soon as possible. If a fraudster has your account information, you’ll need to prevent future access by closing your existing account and transferring funds to a new one.
- Create strong, unique passwords—and change them regularly
Cybersecurity experts continually cite strong, unique passwords as the first line of defense against unauthorized users. In addition to creating longer passwords with a mix of numbers and characters, it’s equally important to use a different password for each account in the event of a data breach.
- Shred sensitive documents
You can never be too careful when it comes to your information. Fraudsters and scammers can even use old photos for malicious purposes. While you already know to shred credit card statements and old IDs, don’t forget to shred up old checks, bank statements, tax information, boarding passes, junk mail—anything that contains personally identifiable information.
- Request electronic statements
Your mail can be very valuable to an identity thief. Even junk mail can contain enough sensitive information for a criminal to take advantage of. Whenever possible, avoid hard copies of bills and other documents, and request an e-statement instead.
- Safeguard your social security number, tax documents and birthdate
Not everyone who requests your social security number actually needs it. Keep your social security number as confidential as possible by sharing it sparingly. Often, providing the last four digits of your social security number is sufficient. Remember, once someone has your social security number, they can use it to apply for more credit in your name and potentially cause irreparable harm to your credit.
- Open links cautiously
Spoofing and phishing schemes are on the rise. In these scams, the criminal disguises their email, name, phone number, etc. to convince you they are coming from a trusted source before manipulating you into downloading malicious software or disclosing personal, financial, or other sensitive information.
- Set up two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication dramatically improves the security of your accounts. Even if someone obtains your account information and password, two-factor authentication ensures you’re the only person who can access your account.
- Be careful how you use social media
Social media makes identity theft easier than ever before. Be vigilant about the information you share online, the accounts you link together, the passwords you use and the privacy settings you set. Exercise caution when accessing your social media accounts on public computers and wi-fi. And be careful about opening links—even from friends—in case they may have been hacked.
If you believe you or someone you know has been victimized by fraud, contact the Financial Crimes Unit of the Houston Police Department at (713) 844-3131 to file a report. Not sure where to begin? An Centrust Investment Holding specialist is always here to help.