While the internet has connected us to more information than ever, today’s digital age has made it easier for scammers to perpetrate their fraudulent activity. From faux social media postings to password phishing for financial accounts, scammers have found countless ways to get their hands on other peoples’ money. Here are four signs to help you spot 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, or take away your driver’s or business license. 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 (more information below.) Some will send you a check that will later turn out to be fake, tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.
Here are a few examples of scams that are used:
- Unemployment Scams – The scammer will offer to help someone file unemployment claims and then steal their personal information. Once they have received the information, they will fraudulently sign up for unemployment benefits and the victim’s unemployment benefits are sent to the scammer.
- Romance Scams – Due to the pandemic, more people are using online dating apps and social networking sites to meet people. This scam involves the cybercriminal creating a fake online dating profile and then contacting their targets. They will communicate regularly to build a rapport and create a level of trust. Once that trust is gained, they ask their victim for money.
- Gift Card Scams - These scams typically start when the cybercriminal contacts you with an urgent request for money. The scammer will imitate an IRS employee, tech support employee, or even a family member. They will then tell you to go to a store to purchase the gift card. After the gift cards are purchased, the cybercriminal will urge you to scratch off the panel on the back of the gift card, take a picture of the information and send it to them.
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.
In an effort to do our part to keep you safe, we will always call you directly if you request funds out of your account via email or voice mail. We cannot and will not accept instructions by email and will always call you and confirm any requests verbally. We may ask you some personal information to verify that we are in fact speaking with you.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.