Melvin Rodriguez, Community Manager, JP Morgan Chase (Contributed photo)

The pandemic has accelerated identity theft – and the impact on regular people is significant. Americans have lost more than $382 million to stimulus checks and unemployment benefits scams. Even worse, Black and Latino’s consumers are more likely to be victims of fraud than their white counterparts. That’s why it’s crucial to recognize activities designed to steal your hard-earned money.   

We sat down with Melvin Rodriguez, community manager from the Perth Amboy Chase branch on 130 Smith Street, to discuss tips and best practices for securing a better financial future.

NJ Urban News: What should consumers look for when it comes to scammers?  

Melvin Rodriguez: Phishing is the fancy name for emails pretending to be from reputable companies – including banks. They’re really from criminals trying to get your personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. So, be very careful about clicking on a link in an email; instead, go directly to the company’s website. And don’t click on attachments unless you’re sure it’s from someone you know and trust.

NJ Urban News: Are there specific signs to look for?

Melvin Rodriguez: Yes, here are a couple of surefire ones:

Scammers will often tell you there is a problem or a prize. They might say you are in trouble with the government, you owe money, or someone in your family has an emergency. After setting up the problem or prize, scammers will pressure you to act immediately. No legitimate business or government agency will pressure you in this way or ask for your personal information over the phone or email. 

NJ Urban News: How can consumers protect their money and their information? 

Melvin Rodriguez: Here are a few best practices:  

Create a separate password for each financial institution. This provides an additional level of protection in case there is an issue at one institution. Monitor your accounts. Log into your accounts frequently – even daily – through online banking or your mobile banking app to monitor transactions and your account balance. Look for transactions you don’t recognize and check your monthly statements. If there’s an issue, contact your bank right away. Check your credit report. At least once a year read through your credit reports carefully. You can request a free annual credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies, even if you don’t suspect any unauthorized activity on your account. Visit

NJ Urban News: How does Chase protect customers from fraud?  

Melvin Rodriguez: We see it as a partnership; we help protect your accounts and information, and so do you. We monitor our accounts around the clock, including using security measures you can’t see. Also, if we find or flag a transaction you didn’t authorize, we offer Zero Liability Protection, meaning you won’t be held responsible for it.  

Please stop by the Perth Amboy Chase branch on 130 Smith Street to learn more about JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to customer security through our fraud prevention and protection tools. I look forward to working with you.  

Sponsored content from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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