How to Detect Fraud and Identity Theft
The sooner fraud is detected, the lower the financial impact. Often the victim is the first person to discover fraudulent activity. Follow these suggestions to recognize the warning signs of identity theft:
Monitor your accounts
Check your account activity frequently for anything unusual. View your online accounts to detect fraud earlier and contact your financial institution immediately if you see anything suspicious. Also, keep an eye on accounts that belong to your children, parents or other family members. If you suspect that any of your accounts with Ally have been compromised, please notify us immediately using the Contact section at the top of the page.
Use online alert tools and services
Whenever possible sign up for email or text alerts that notify you when certain events occur such as ordering checks or reissuing debit or credit cards. It’s also helpful to set up threshold alerts to notify you of low account balances or unusually high account transactions. Alerts like these can help signal fraudulent spending, so you can put a stop to it quickly.
Use a credit monitoring service
Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service that notifies you when changes are posted to your credit report. This is one of the fastest ways to find out if someone has opened new accounts in your name.
10 warning signs of fraud
- Unexpected charges on your account
- Unrecognizable accounts on your credit report or inaccurate information
- Bills or statements unexpectedly stop arriving by US mail. (This could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address.)
- Checks are significantly out of order on your bank statement
- Banks and financial institutions freeze accounts unexpectedly
- Receiving credit cards without applying for them
- Unreasonable denial of credit
- Notification that you’ve been denied credit that you didn’t apply for
- Debt collectors contact you about merchandise you didn't buy
- Notifications about address, password or information changes that you did not make
Know the scams
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scams are not only limited to the Internet. Criminals also use phone, text, social media and email scams to gain personal information and commit fraud and identity theft. Here are a few typical identity theft and fraud scams.
Watch out for wire transfer email scams
Criminals are actively using email schemes to defraud financial institutions and their customers by deceiving them into conducting wire transfers that appear legitimate.
These schemes often target individuals purchasing real estate or other parties involved in the transaction (broker, title agent, attorney, buyer/seller), for the purpose of altering the payment instructions and diverting funds used to close the deal. To avoid falling victim to these wire transfer scams, make sure to:
- Verify wire instructions independently with the intended recipient before sending any funds.
- Be cautious when conducting any transactions online or with unknown third parties.
For more information, browse the Consumer Alerts and other resources made available by the Federal Trade Commission. You can find more information about this specific scam from this Public Service Announcement and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Too good to be true
- You don't remember entering a lottery or contest, but are notified by phone, text, email or letter that you’ve won.
- You’re promised to make extra money working at home in return for using your bank account to send or receive money.
- You’re promised to receive a huge sum of money in return for transferring funds, often internationally.
Requests for money
- You're asked to pay money in advance for "administration fees" or "taxes" prior to receiving a prize or winnings.
- A friend sends an urgent request for money via email or a social media site. One common scam scenario leads you to believe that your friend is traveling in a foreign country and needs money wired to them immediately.
- You get an email notification that you are entitled to a long, lost relative's inheritance, but you must send money to claim your portion.
- An advanced fee is required to stop foreclosure, modify a loan or receive advice from a company or individual to stop paying your mortgage. The FTC provides an informative video on this subject.
Shady sellers or buyers
- While buying or selling a car online, you're asked to transfer funds or pay by mail via cashier’s check or money order.
- The buyer overpays you with a check and asks you to refund the difference. Then the check bounces when you try to cash or deposit it later.
- Always make sure checks have cleared before paying off loans and delivering items to a buyer.
- Never trust a buyer or seller who refuses to talk on the phone or meet in person.
Do your homework
Stay in the know about the latest scams and tactics by visiting Onguard Online. This is a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintained site that provides practical tips on how to guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.
Also, take the time to verify any calls or emails that you receive about your finances by contacting your financial institution directly. Locate the contact information from their company website, your online statements or other materials from the company.