Criminals are constantly thinking up ways to get access to your financial information or to get cash from you or your account. To help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud, we are providing you with information to help protect yourself.
Identify a Scam:
- Scammers PRETEND to be from an organization you know. Scammers often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations. They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID. So the name and number you see might not be real.
- Scammers say there’s a PROBLEM or a PRIZE. They might say you’re in trouble with the government. Or you owe money. Or someone in your family had an emergency. Or that there’s a virus on your computer. Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.
- Scammers PRESSURE you to act immediately. Scammers want you to act before you have time to think. If you’re on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story. They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business license, or deport you. They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.
- Scammers tell you to PAY in a specific way. They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.
What You Can Do to Avoid a Scam:
- Block unwanted calls and text messages. Take steps to block unwanted calls and to filter unwanted text messages.
- Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers. If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.
- Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
- Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
- Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.
What to Do if you Were Scammed:
Scammers can be very convincing. They call, email, and send text messages trying to get your money or sensitive personal information. You need to take action if you paid someone you think is a scammer, gave them your personal information, or if they have access to your computer, mobile device, or tablet .
- Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.
- For more details on what you need to do visit consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-do-if-you-were-scammed.
- Fake Check Scams - Scammers ask you to deposit a check, sometimes for several thousand dollars, and usually for more than you are owed, and send some of the money to another person. Types of fake check scams include: mystery shopping, personal assistants, claiming prizes, overpayments.
- Gift Card Scams - Gift cards are gifts, NOT for payments. Anyone who tells you to pay with a gift card is a scammer.
- Phishing Scams - Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information.
- Phone Scams - These come in many forms, but they tend to make similar promises and threats, or ask you to pay certain ways.
- Social Security Scams - Scammers pretend to be from Social Security Administration and try to get your social security number or money.
While identity theft can happen to anyone, there are some things that you can do to reduce your risk by protecting your personal information. There are four main ways to do it:
- Know who you share information with.
- Store and dispose of your personal information securely, especially your Social Security number.
- Ask questions before deciding to share your personal information.
- Maintain appropriate security on your computers and other electronic devices.
The best defense against fraud is YOU. Keeping the digital world secure requires all of us to be proactive and diligent. Learn how you can #BeCyberSmart by visiting our Cybersecurity webpage.
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it is a robocall. If you’re getting a lot of robocalls trying to sell you something (and you have not given the caller your written permission), odds are it is an illegal call. Many are also probably scams. What should you do? Hang up and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the National Do Not Call Registry.