Special Report: How to protect your money from fraud during the holidays

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CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – This week is International Fraud Awareness Week – A time when financial institutions like Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union educate the community about becoming aware of your money.

The global effort hopes to minimize the impact of fraud.

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News 12 Now’s Kay Blevins has more on how to keep yourself safe during the holiday.

Protecting your money is important.

Credit card fraud and stolen identities are why financial institutions continue to warn their members “You have to be really careful with your cards a lot of times you will get calls and it will ask for your information.”

Lisa Elrod, Vice President of Operations at Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union says never give your card information to a random caller over the phone, and always be suspicious of phone calls requesting funds.

“Also if you receive a check in the mail that says ‘deposit this’ and ‘send us money back’.. ‘wire us’.. ‘send us a gift card’.. its always a red flag.”

Elrod says because of increased spending, fraud cases can go up during the holiday season.

“Never leave your purse or wallet in the car, I would not place them in a shopping cart, or at the grocery store if you turn your head for a moment someone could get the card.”

Your card information can also be stolen at gas stations and ATMS.

Officer Charles Petty is a fraud investigator with the Chattanooga Police Department and says the best way to protect your money is to check your bank statements and run credit reports.

His team has found devices like this at gas stations in our area.

“Because they are blue tooth I can be up to 300 feet away and never have to go back inside the gas pump again and download it on to a computer.”

Officer Petty works to prevent this type of criminal activity daily but stopping this type of fraud is difficult.

“We don’t have access to the gas pumps, and usually when we find out about it, its because one of the banks has contacted us and said you may have a skimming device at this location due to the number of cards that have been compromised.”

He says paying with cash is best and always run your debit card as credit because what criminals do with your information is alarming.

“People doing account takeovers they get your account information from your banking information and they will make fake ids and they will go in and impersonate you and drain your account of all the money that could be in your account.”

Bottom line…if you feel like something is suspicious call your bank, keep your personal information private, and “If the offer sounds to good to be true it probably is.”

Kay Blevins News 12 Now.

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