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Medical Students, Don’t be a Victim of Consumer Fraud!


With more financial transactions taking place online and technologies designed to capture these transactions from a short distance away, there is more significant risk for fraud.  Already this year, I have heard from several medical students who have been victims of fraud.  You have the power to protect yourself and take action when fraud is detected by contacting the right institutions quickly.

With more of our lifestyle being online, using web-based banking, online shopping, debit/credit card usage makes the convenience of the internet more vulnerable and easier for thieves to gain access to your private information and steal away your money.  So, information such as your credit card numbers, bank account statements, social security number and birth date can be used by criminals to make illegal purchases in your name.

Needless to say, it is extremely important that you protect your personal information and prevent your data from falling into deviant hands.  To avoid these issues, learn the different ways you can be at risk and what to do if you become victimized.  There are even products now that can safeguard from your debit cards/credit cards from being RIFD scanned.  Just for fun, see this advertisement,

First, let’s talk about online shopping.  Yes, it is one of the modern times life pleasures, especially when you can sit at home in your pajamas and scour the universe for that perfect gift or find the best deal.  Whenever you use your debit/credit card online, make sure the site is secure, not that they claim it is secure.  Read more here on how to detect a secure site.

Second, how about those credit cards or your debit card?  There is nothing more frightening and disheartening than opening your credit card statement to find that someone else used your credit to go on a shopping spree.  Always make sure you keep your credit cards and debit card numbers as well as your PINs private.  Every time your credit card statement arrives, go through it and review all of the charges carefully.  This is why it is good idea to save your receives so you can reconcile at the end of the month.  This will help you detect any suspicious activity.  If you find that a charge on your account is not yours are there is suspicious activity, contact your financial institution right away.

Lastly, email scams.  Hmm, we all know them and heard about them, but it still gets people that are not aware.  Most scams are often associated with “phishing” scams and the perpetrator’s goal is simply catch you off guard and get your information.  Any e-mail that asks for your personal banking information is most likely a scam.  The best way to deal with thieves behind scams is exercise your “delete” button on your phone or computer.  Don’t be afraid to use it!

The problem is that these “phishing” messages will sometimes seem more legit by approaching you with messages that there’s been fraud on your account or that you’ve missed a payment.  It becomes even more confusing when the phone number or website where the email directs you may be affiliated with your actual financial institution.  Instead of using this contact information, visit the company’s official website and reach out via the methods listed there.  Do not ever give your information or provide any confirmation of information via the internet.

No matter how diligently your protect yourself and keep your information private, there will come a time when you have been scammed, so what do you do?   First of all, don’t be embarrassed, it will happen to some of the smartest people.  The biggest mistake is delaying action.  Deal with it immediately.  Don’t let a small issue become a BIG issue by simply ignoring the issue.

If you believe you are a victim of fraud, any kind of fraud, take action by contacting the Internet Compliant Center (IC3), this is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National While Collar Center (NC3).  They have information about different kinds of fraud as well as ways for you to file a complaint.  Filing a complaint will help the agencies and others avoid similar scams.

Additionally, if you believe you are the victim of credit card fraud, contact your bank or Credit Card Company immediately.  You want the unauthorized transactions to be flagged immediately to avoid further damage.  Your cards will be frozen and new cards issued.  Make it a point to review your credit report at least once a year with an eye out for any suspicious information.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Jose Espada

Jose Rivera Espada is the director of financial aid at IU School of Medicine, a nine-campus allopathic medical school in Indiana. Jose’s experience includes working as an assistant director of financial aid at Butler University and a financial aid coun...