9 online tools that help you stay safe from fraud

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In Spanish | As consumer fraud has grown in quantity and variety, so have the products and services that help protect you from scams. Some are free and come from government agencies, non-profit organizations, or large corporations; others are from contractors with unique and often high-tech protections that you will pay for. How to sort them? We reviewed many services and devices, then spoke with anti-fraud experts and former law enforcement officials. Their advice: Focus on specific needs.

1. Participate in 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 assess decision-making. Through its SAFE program, the service also offers one-on-one coaching to help users detect fraud or identity theft.

2. Check a broker’s history on Brokercheck by FINRA

FINRA, the independent, non-governmental regulator of securities firms doing business in the United States, has a free online tool, BrokerCheck.finra.org, that allows you to view broker histories as well as than to seek complaints and disciplinary action against brokers. And remember: always hang up on the name of a cold calling broker. Legit ones don’t work that way.

3. Protect your packages with Informed Delivery

A free service of the US Postal Service, InformedDelivery.usps.com emails images of your mail before it arrives. It also allows users to track and manage package delivery to protect purchases from thieves.

4. Sign up for identity theft protection services

A number of companies promise to protect your identity for a fee. NortonLifeLock plans offer identity theft protection to AARP members at a discount of at least 20%. EverSafe.com and IDShield.com are among the companies that patrol the dark web, looking for illicit use of your social security number, false address changes, and other misused personal information. monitoring your bank accounts and credit cards to make sure they haven’t been compromised. You can compare base fees on each company’s website.

Melvin G. Rodriguez