Protect Your Personal Information and Money

Recent reports about thieves gaining access to sensitive personal information that can be used to commit fraud or steal money, sometimes involving major security breaches at large retailers such as Target stores.  While federal laws and industry practices generally limit losses for unauthorized transactions involving bank accounts, debit and credit cards, it pays to be proactive.

Be careful when you use social networking sites.  Scammers use social networking sites to gather details about individuals, such as their place or date of birth, a pet’s name, their mother’s maiden name, and other information that can help them figure out passwords–or how to reset them.  Even small amount of information can help them steal your identity, such as by answering security questions that control access to accounts.  According to Michael Benardo, Chief of the FDIC’s Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section, “Don’t share your ‘page’ or access with anyone you don’t know and trust.  Criminals may pretend to be your ‘friend’  or relative to convince you to send money or divulge personal information.”

For additional information and tips on avoiding fraud at social media sites, go to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at and

Discussion Questions

1.  What can you do to guard against scams involving fraudulent requests to wire money or send a prepaid card?

2.  Why should you be suspicious about unsolicited emails or text messages asking you to click on a link or open an attachment?

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog and the websites to

*  Discuss the importance of regularly reviewing your transactions in your credit card and bank statements.

*  Carefully choose user IDs and passwords for your computers, mobile devices, and online accounts.

*  Periodically review your credit reports to make sure someone else has not obtained a credit card or a loan in your name.

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