No Charges? No Fraud? Not Always!


After working a few years in the financial sector, including fraud review, I’ve seen the damage fraudsters can perform within minutes to over months. Months may pass, after they have your information, giving you a false sense of security. Here are a few scenarios consumers may not notice and what you can do to heighten your security.


Monthly statement shows nothing out of the ordinary?
The local thief may live in or visit your community. Humans are creatures of habit, they tend to go to the same restaurants,  grocery chains, and  gas stations.   Some charges may appear not so out of ordinary. If a duplicate card has been made from information obtained off of your card, with a credit card skimmer, thieves could be using them right at the same places.


What to do? 

  • Change your pin number periodically.
  • Ask for a new card if you suspect fraud.
    (Some banks may charge a fee for a replacement card or issue a courtesy one.)
  • If a system looks suspicious, skip it, and find another way to pay.
  • Be predictable with the same amounts of purchases, for example, $30 for gas. Fraud departments look for routines.


Small pre-authorization amounts?
Pre-authorizations or test amounts on cards from new merchant accounts are run to check available funds.  Most of the time, these delete after 72 hours. The amount is set by the merchant and normally an even number of up to $100.  Once the pre-authorization signal clears, the merchant allows you to continue with your transaction.

What to do? 

  • Place a daily withdrawal limit through your bank or credit card.
  • Notify your bank or card if you are going on vacation or out of town to reduce a fraud flag.
  • Check your account activity frequently.

Small purchases
When you notice small purchases on your account,  these are considered fraudster test amounts to see if the card or account is still active. Generally, they are online purchases to a fake set up website ranging from a few pennies, odd numbers, or in foreign currency.

What to do? 

  • Look for a customer service number next to the amount on your statement. Dispute the charge or review what the purchase was for.
  • If it was through an online merchant, run a virus scan, clear cache and cookies plus, change your password.
  • Call your credit card company to dispute it or ask about filing a chargeback.

Automatic Bill Payer Withdraws
More banks offer bill payer systems, this reduces check fraud, but if you allow a merchant to automatically withdrawal from your account, watch out!. Errors can be made and there is a human on the other end controlling the numbers.

What to do?

  • Self control how much and when the money gets withdrawn.
  • Periodically print a copy of your bill for accuracy, as online data can be changed quicker. Your home printer usually puts a time and date stamp at the bottom.
  • Minimize using merchants’ online payment systems.
  • Avoid automatic scheduled withdraws by a merchant or business.

Additional Tips: 

  • Understand your bank and credit card fraud systems and alerts.
  • Understand how chargebacks work.
  • Review your statements often, print occasionally.
  • Limit giving multiple cards to family members or associates.
  • Change passwords and pin numbers routinely.
  • Be predictable with your spending and amounts.
  • Provide ID upon using a credit card.
  • Secure your mailbox for credit card applications.
  • Be cautious of giving sensitive info by email or phone.
  • Check your credit report annually through TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
Photos found under public domain by freestockphotos, Friendswood Police Dept, and mail.

Not this on a job application

Applying for a job asks for a lot of data, and what if you aren’t hired? Be cautious with what you provide, especially sensitive information, when voluntarily applying for jobs. Follow a few of these privacy tips to ensure a few steps towards your personal identity.

Paper Applications or Resume
Bars, restaurants or retail establishments tend to have a standard paper application. These are usually double sided with a small amount of space to enter information. It may ask for your name, address, past experience where and when you attended school.

Don’t Give:

  • Social Security Number
  • Physical Address
  • Exact Date of Birth
  • Graduation Date

These papers can get left lying around during the blur of business. Office doors could be left open, stacks of papers left on shelves and possibly near customers’ reach in plenty of unsecured areas.

Small Online Help Wanted Sites and Online applications
Finding a job online is becoming increasingly popular. The cost to post an AD is minimal or more often free. Entries vary from a paragraph to descriptive sought after skills. Many times they ask for an email response with your qualifications, including a resume.

Large well established companies post their job openings through their company website.  They have invested in a Human Resource department who gain strict professional training to assure they are abiding by legal protocols. However, this does not guarantee mistakes don’t happen.

Don’t Give:

  • Social Security Number
  • Physical Address
  • Exact Date of Birth
  • Marital or Dependence Status
  • Graduation Date
  • Photo
  • Social media links

Free classified entries are seldom quality control checked for validity. Hackers and spammers may pose fake ads for the purpose of gaining data or reply to send you unrelated spam emails.  If the Ad doesn’t list a phone number, company name, or any other way to reach them, be weary.

Large companies do not need your Social Security Number until they have decided to hire you to file your own tax information.
Some may ask for it for additional background checks such as criminal or credit history. However, they should only ask this when they become more interested in you, after reviewing your initial information.

Large companies may also apply: Employment check, references, education check, drug test, personality tests, comprehension tests, skills application tests and more. Provide data at your own risk.

Anything submitted online is not always safe.

What they find anyways: 
Based on information provided, through deductive reasoning, managers can determine or assume age, marital, health status, dependent status, social class and more. This information can be figured out by graduation date, neigborhood, length of experience, specialty studies and more.

Both the prospective employee and employer both seek a compatible business relationship.  In my opinion, once a company is interested in an applicant based on skills, tthey may move to the next step of asking for more data. In today’s high tech world people are easier to look up online. Pieces of our lives are scattered, published by a few key online word searches.


Photos provided have been noted as public domain on Wikimedia and pixabay

5 Speedier Ways To Employment

-Lenda Brewer
On an average, it takes an hour or more to search and send your resume. If you pass the next step towards acceptance, the interview screening process begins.  Once you get through to actually speaking to someone, you go through the waiting, agreeing to multiple background tests, and self torturing yourself, imagining the rejection response.

Before you completely give up sorting through possibly thousands of job titles, consider a few of these time saving tips:

Use Multiple Temporary Employment Agencies
Increase your job search faster by partnering up with four or five employment agencies. Double check to be sure if they have an exclusivity or non-compete clause. Legitimate ones do not charge an up front fee. They earn by getting you work.  They will filter your qualifications, apply knowledge based tests, and ask if you have a preference of where you’d like to work.  Each place may take a couple of hours to finish all the skills testings, but this means you can have four or five agents looking for jobs with you.


Apply with who you do business with
If you are a frequent shopper at a local grocery store, use electricity, cable, or tech user,  consider applying with those companies. An added bonus they provide are employee discounts.  If you’re familiar with the service or use them regularly, the employer will look upon you favorably. They prefer employees who enjoy the products and services they provide, who can easily help new or existing customers along the way. Check the companies’ websites frequently. Some offer work from home positions.

Yes, volunteer as a way to get to know an organization. This shows a selfless leadership quality with a direct personal connection to staff members watching you.  On occasion, positions are even created based on your needed talents. It also increases your network of people.


Fill a need and charge a price
Services are created by seeing a need and fulfilling a solution.  Be an entrepreneur.  Match what you can do with what people may be looking for. Fix a fence, tutor, sweep a porch or two, grow and sell vegetables.  Each of us have some talented skill another is lacking. Create a flyer and a price sheet then start locally with your neighbors, friends and family.

Pick a job title and strive for it
If this is a little difficult to choose, try step one. Temporary Agencies list your skills and place you in a position most suitable for your capabilities. When a person decides what direction or what industry they want to work in, it gives a focus on a goal.  Once you decide, immerse yourself with talented leaders to learn from.

Job titles may change along the years, so open your search to various words. For example, Salesmen can be Account Executives or Customer Relations Specialists.

Make a list of your positive attributes you’ve acquired, your successes, and who can give you a good reference.  Focus on what you can and have provided.

Photos are noted as public domain on wikimedia and pixabay.

Surprising times to apply for a job

Surprising times to apply for a job
-Lenda Brewer


Filling out an application can take up to an hour and online applications can take longer. Selective managers use up more time sorting through them all – qualified or not. At larger sized businesses, you may not get a response for weeks. Increase your chances of your resume being seen with these optimal times tips.

Sunday night

Some employers may post positions in the local Sunday newspaper or online over the weekend. If you email your resume late Sunday night, and if the hiring manager doesn’t get a lot of emails between then and Monday morning- yours has a higher chance of being seen. Most sort their emails by date and time received. They can also see the time and date stamp of when you sent it.

Early Monday morning or evening

As online applications take an hour or so to fill out, begin the process two hours before their office hours start. If their office opens at 8:00 a.m., begin applying at 6:00 a.m.  However, please keep in mind, depending on how the application gets filtered, It may or may not get to the final hiring managers that quickly. Mondays are usually planning days for normal 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. professional businesses. It’s the priority task planning day for the rest of the week. By afternoon, phone calls to set up interview times may begin. Getting an email from an applicant in the afternoon  or Monday early evening may make a memorable impression, or delightful distraction.

Tuesday and Thursday afternoons

Tuesdays are usually set up for upper management round table meetings, mainly in the mornings. Since the invention of smart phones, they’ll tend to glance at their cell phones during the meeting; checking for appointments, text and emails. They’ll usually be back to  their desk by afternoon. In restaurants, Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually the slowest days. Be sure to apply after their lunch or breakfast rush between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. That time range is also used for interviews.

Thursdays are seen as the next to last day of the week to get things done. However, for the restaurant and entertainment industry, this is the start of their week, as weekends are their peak business times.


Wednesday morning
Wednesdays are usually reserved for the interview, setting up interviews, or take more time to sort  through more applicants. Be sure to apply by email first thing in the morning or at least before noon. By afternoon, they may be thinking of their midweek , after five,  activity.

Wednesday evenings are traditionally reserved for group activities. Such as;  Bowling teams, Dart Leagues, Church, Exercise classes or other group meetings. By Wednesday afternoon, managers are trying to see how much time they have to finish tasks to get to their meetings on time.

Forget Fridays unless its an interview

Minimize Fridays as this is the last day of the week to get tasks done. Plus, it’s the same mind set as Wednesdays. They’re looking forward to either socializing or relaxing, rather than adding on another responsibility to be done.

In their minds’, they’ve already checked out concentrating on work by late afternoon. Even if you send it late Friday, most may forget about it over the weekend. However, some interview times are scheduled on Fridays.  As managers begin to relax, anticipating the weekend, they may take a more casual relaxed approach during the interview. This also gives them the weekend to responsibility think things over.

Additional Tips

Many email account carriers have the option of saving an email as a draft version.  Once you have the draft polished, you can hit send around the times recommended.  More advanced email systems, may also allow you to schedule when emails will be sent.

When emailing your resume, be sure the subject line contains the specific job applied for. It makes it easier for Human Resources Directors or their Assistants to sort by subject.

If mailing your resume, be sure you can time it right so it arrives on their desk on these days. In the United States, mail it approximately three days before the anticipated day, not including weekends.

Finally, ask for the interview and propose one of the days and times, listed in this article’s recommendation.