Bank customers in New York City can now reach a toll-free number 24 hours a day in the event that they are in danger of becoming victims of fraud.
New York City’s Office of the Comptroller announced on Tuesday that the number will be known as the City Council’s Chief Financial Officers’ Emergency Call Center, or C4C, and is meant to help people protect themselves against identity theft and fraud.
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The “eruption of fraud” reports received by the Office of the Comptroller in 2014, from consumers with reported about 5,000 incidents of fraud and identity theft, showed that the city has limited consumer protections, comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. In that year, the city started using an automated system in partnership with the Department of Investigation, which helps people identify fraudulent activities and cases, and has found that fraud victims were easily duped, often signing up for untested services, without checking up on how they would have been used.
“In many instances, victims just don’t know they have been scammed until it’s too late, and the devastation to their lives can be devastating,” Stringer said in a statement. “That’s why we are so excited to take it a step further and create a real-time response center.”
Only about 10 percent of consumers who file complaints about fraud with the Comptroller’s Office actually reached out to the New York City Crime Stoppers hotline. The center will offer these consumers immediate assistance and will also help the police investigate other financial crimes, according to Stringer.
In addition to the emergency number, the Comptroller’s Office said consumers can protect themselves by:
Using two-factor authentication
Monitored financial statements
Conducting annual credit and fraud investigations
Monitoring bank accounts 24 hours a day
Ensuring a fraud notification system has been used after suspicious activity
Opening financial documents, such as bank statements and credit reports, with a third party such as a delivery person
Paying for services such as upfront registration for services with a credit agency
Strictly protecting account information
City Comptroller Scott Stringer at the unveiling of the city’s 211 phone line. (Courtesy of the Comptroller’s Office)
The C4C will work with the city’s 311 non-emergency hot line, which connects residents to city agencies, and 928 on-call operators. Stringer’s office said that the C4C “will not duplicate any existing services” and will be staffed by 311 operators who will travel to the most vulnerable citizens in need of their assistance.