En español | As consumer fraud has surged in both quantity and variety, so have products and services to help protect you from scams. Some are free and come from government agencies, nonprofits or large corporations; others are from entrepreneurs with unique and often high-tech protections that you’ll pay for. How to sort them out? We reviewed lots of services and devices, then talked to anti-fraud experts and former law enforcement officials. Their advice: Focus on specific needs.
1. Take a financial vulnerability survey
The Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology has developed an online financial vulnerability survey, at OlderAdultNestEgg.com, to help older Americans evaluate decision-making. Through its SAFE program, the service also offers one-on-one coaching to help users catch fraud or identify theft.
2. Review a broker’s history on Brokercheck by FINRA
FINRA, the independent, nongovernmental regulator of securities firms doing business in the United States, has a free online tool, BrokerCheck.finra.org, that lets you review broker history as well as find complaints and disciplinary actions against brokers. And remember: Always hang up on a cold-calling broker. Legitimate ones don’t work that way.
3. Protect your packages with Informed Delivery
A free service from the U.S. Postal Service, InformedDelivery.usps.com emails images of your mail before it arrives. It also allows users to track and manage package delivery to keep purchases safe from thieves.
4. Sign up for identity theft protection services
A number of companies promise to keep your identity safe for a fee. Plans from NortonLifeLock offer identity theft protection to AARP members at a discount of at least 20 percent. EverSafe.com and IDShield.com are among the companies that patrol the dark web, searching for illicit use of your Social Security number, false changes of address and other misused personal information while also monitoring your bank accounts and credit cards to ensure they haven’t been compromised. You can compare basic fees on each company’s website.