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Fraud Prevention: How to Protect Yourself

Updated on October 03, 2014
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Last month my credit card number was stolen, I didn't even notice until I received a call from my bank one morning. Of course, I was reluctant to answer because they usually only call you when they want some money from you. But instead they said, they wanted to confirm some charges I had made. They listed a couple of charges made in Oregon from Wal-mart and the Sizzler. I confirmed I did not make those charges. So I was reimbursed for the money that was spent and I was given a new card number. My point being that I would have never really known that these charges were made had it not been for this fraud protection. Anti-fraud protection becomes more important with a down economy and with the rapid growth in technology. There is a lot of fraud protection services used every day that we don't really realize and maybe even take for granted. These are a few.

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Some Fraud Protection Services


  1. Check Fraud Protection - The breakthroughs in technology have made check fraud extremely challenging for businesses and institutions. But there are businesses that specialize in check printing and are able to help "cut operating costs, reduce operational risk, and improve customer service," so fraud protection software are available for any business size. (Source: http://www.troygroup.com/products/software/securecheckflow.aspx).

  2. Disabled Parking Placards - This may sound kind of silly but these blue placards give 2.5 million people key parking spaces that are close to important services. In the UK, there are a few measures that are being taken to prevent the counterfeit placards from being used. According to direct.gov, they’re going to begin replacing hand written badges with electronic ones because they are harder to duplicate.

  3. California State in Home Health and Aid Program - This is an anti fraud measure that many people do not realize exists. The state of California had many anti fraud measures for in home health care and aid program. A program that was reported by the LA times to include many cheaters were requiring caregivers to provide finger prints on their time sheets. These anti fraud measures have since been repealed because it is too expensive for the state.

  4. Social Security Numbers - This may be a little bit obvious, we know to be careful with our Social Security numbers. But do we know what measures are being taken to prevent our SSN’s from being stolen. In the intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Congress prohibited states from displaying or electronically including SSN’s on Driver’s Licenses, Motor Vehicle registrations, or personal identification cards. This is supposed to reduce the risk for identity theft and Congress believes these measures will also prevent other crimes that result from identity theft.

  5. A Secure Internet Password - This may sound simple and irrelevant many of us use the same password and we don’t ever really anyone will actually steal it. This is definitely one anti-fraud measure that all of us take for granted. But with the explosion of social media sites, and people putting personal information on these sites, the importance of choosing a safe password is very important. According to an article on people.mozilla.org, the best way to create secure password is to use a phrase, add special characters, and associate it with a website.


Tips on Identity Theft Prevention

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5 Biggest Financial Fraud of All-Time


One of the biggest frauds in the past decade is probably Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme. Bernard Madoff created the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960 on Wall Street and was the chairman until his arrest in 2008. The Madoff investment scandal is known to be the largest scam in the United States history for orchestrating a $65 billion ponzi scheme. More than 1,300 investors were drawn and a number of them were celebrities like filmmaker Stephen Spielberg and actor Kevin Bacon. Madoff's business strategy has been questioned in 1999 by Harry Markopolos, a financial analyst, to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claiming that it's impossible for Madoff to earn the amount of profit he claimed to make with the investment strategy he was using. There were a number of investigations on Bernard Madoff but it wasn't until the downturn of the market in 2008 that his ponzi scheme was revealed. On June 29, 2009, he was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed.

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1. The Mississippi Scheme by John Law (1719)


John Law was a Scottish financial genius and started a company to develop Louisiana by hyping the possibilities rather than turning them to a reality. He found investors including the French government to support his development scheme. Shares for the company have skyrocketed and the French currency increased in value. When the investors saw what was Louisiana was like, shares plunged. To avoided being hanged, Law escaped by disguising himself as a beggar and died nine years later in poverty.


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4. Barry Minkow (1987)


Barry Minkow started ZZZZZ Best, a carpet cleaning company, which was real and received high marks for its quality. However, the insurance restoration division was completely non-existent which accounted for 86% of the company's revenue. The company collapsed in 1987 when it was facing storages of cash flow from paying investors for the nonexistent restoration projects. He was sentenced to 25 years of prison but only served 7 years.


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2. The Original Ponzi Scheme by Charles Ponzi (1920)


The Ponzi scheme was made famous by Charles Ponzi where the named was originated. Charles Ponzi discovered that he could purchase discounted postal coupons and sell them for the full price. He also made an exaggerated lie of financial benefits of these couples. He claimed that the coupons would earn investors a 50% profits in 45 days and 100% profit in 90 days. When the scheme was exposed, Ponzi fled the country and eventually died in poverty.


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5. Lou Pearlman (2006)


He was former manager of the U.S. boy bands for the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync. For more than 20 years he gathered individuals and banks to invest in his companies which only existed on paper. In 2008, he was sentenced to 25 years of prison for pleading guilty of conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements. U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp gave Pearlman the chance to cut his prison time, by offering to reduce the sentence by one month for every million dollars he helped a bankruptcy trustee recover.


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3. The Eiffel Tower Sale (1925)


When Victor Lustig discovered that the Eiffel Tower was renovating he faked some government papers to show that he was authorized to sell the scrap metal of the tower. He was able to get two dealers to make a total of over $200,000 in bribes to give them the multi-million dollar contract. Then he returned to the United States where he became one of America's most successful swindlers.

(Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/media/top-14-financial-frauds-of-all-time/)

Documentary of the Bernard Madoff Scandal

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Top 5 Free Security Software for Windows in 2012


With the advancement of technology, many people are using computers to enhance their living style. For example, many companies are using computers to improve business operations and college students are using the internet to submit homework and take tests. Computers have also created a convenience for us to shop online without ever leaving our home. Although it’s a great idea to get things done without leaving our home, there’s a greater chance that our sensitive information could be stolen if there are no security measures. Here are the top five security software programs recommended for Windows.


  1. Avast Free Antivirus - Although Avast doesn’t have stellar benchmarks, it got a usable, cluttered free interface. In the 2012 version of Avast, they have improved the performance in efficacy tests. There are three main reasons Avast is one of the top 3 free security suite. First, the software got one of the most aggressive forward-thinking feature sets in the free suite. Second, it might not be the best, but it does a very good job at protecting your computer. Finally, it protects you without making damages to your PC when it is affected with viruses.

  2. AVG AntiVirus Free - AVG AntiVirus offers a great security software program because it doesn’t drag down your system performance. People are picky about choosing security software because majority of them slow down the computer’s performance. With the free version, it does a great job at protecting your computer but if you want to feel safer you can pay to do an upgrade. If you’re using a Windows Vista or XP computer, you should do a firewall upgrade.

  3. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware - The Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a speedy malware remover with an average quick scan taking about 7 minutes and 30 seconds. This anti-spyware program is capable of determining the difference between false positives and dangerous apps. The free version does a decent job of removing spyware and if you feel more comfortable paying for more protection, the price is a bit steep.

  4. Hotspot Shield - Hotspot Shield helps protect you from online browsing and blocks services like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Skype in countries where the internet is censored. The software keeps hackers from stealing sensitive information in public locations like the library or coffee shops. In addition, Hotspot Shield protects against 3.5 million malware threats including infected websites, phishing and spam websites.

  5. Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ - Lavasoft plans to perform regular updates to the suite for keeping people safe throughout the year. Although there are some major changes to the software, there are some important gaps that must be filled. If Lavasoft fixes these gaps in the software program then it can become another aggressive competitor in the field.


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