Start off the New Year Prepared to Avoid Scams
Recognizing common scam tactics can help you protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming victims. Here are a handful of telltale signs that someone might be trying to scam you:
- Unexpected contact: You may be called, emailed, texted, or mailed by someone requesting or demanding something from you, or encouraging you to click a link for more information. Your first sign to be cautious is that they contacted you.
- Urgency: Scammers use high-pressure tactics to trigger emotional and impulsive reactions from their victims. Reputable businesses and organizations will allow you reasonable time to manage your consumer relationship, and will never pressure you into providing payment or sensitive information on the spot.
- Personal information: If someone contacts you and asks for your account number, social security number, PIN, or a verification code, stop the conversation there. To verify the legitimacy of the contact, reach out directly via a published number or email.
- Unusual payments: If you’re asked to pay a bill or purchase goods with gift cards, prepaid cards, or digital currency, this should raise a red flag. If you’re a seller and you’re paid more than you’re owed and asked to send back the excess, the buyer is trying to pull a fast one.
- Too good to be true: If you’re offered an opportunity to get rich quick, claim a mysterious lottery prize, or cash an unexpected check from a stranger, think again. And if you’ve recently found your perfect romantic match online, be wary of a sudden, urgent request for money or gift cards. Unfortunately, your new sweetie may not be who you think they are at all.
It’s important to remember that while some scams are targeted toward specific individuals, many scams target a massive number of people at a time. If just a small number of people take the bait, the bad guys can win big. You can protect yourself by recognizing the tactics above and using extra caution anytime you encounter these scenarios. Pause before acting or responding to unsolicited contact, and always verify who you’re dealing with in any situation involving money and personal information.
Learn more about other scams and fraud prevention resources here.