Direct mail, email, phone calls, social media – all are common ways that society is able to pass information from one person to another. Unfortunately, thanks to fraudsters who care more about fattening their pockets than the well-being of others, these resources are also some of the premiere platforms utilized for identity theft and scams.
The good news is that with a bit of discretion, you can effectively thwart any attempts to snag your personal data and steal your money.
- Bogus checks.If someone overpays you by check (personal, cashier’s or corporate) and asks for the difference to be wired back or the cash handed/mailed to him/her after you’ve deposited the check, it’s most likely a scam. A better approach would be to have the sender reissue a check to you for only the amount you are to receive. If you are in doubt, ask a credit union employee to review the check with you and/or call the financial institution that the check is drawn on to make sure it’s valid. Don’t use the phone number that the buyer gives you for the financial institution. Keep in mind thatyou are responsible for any losses that occur from accepting “scam” checks and returning money to the sender.
- Make money working at home. If you come across an offer on the Internet, in a printed newspaper or an email/text message that professes bountiful amounts of money you can make by working part time from home, it’s sadly just a ploy designed for a scammer to make money off of you as he/she works at home.
- You’ve won money in a contest! Have you heard the one where you give personal financial information to an unsolicited caller so that he/she can wire you a large sum of money that you “won,“ even though you don’t recall entering any contests? “All you have to do is pay the taxes,” he/she tells you. Well, that person is lying. Maybe you’ve experienced a similar situation in a random letter, email or a popup window online. Never provide your account number, Social Security number or any other personal data to a random caller/sender. Report such incidents to the Federal Communications Commission.
- Your long-lost relative from a foreign country just passed away.Now, we’re not saying you could never inherit a large sum of money from a deceased relative (RIP); we’re just saying that the money probably won’t come from a family member who you never knew existed. Inheritance scams are often executed via social media channels or email. Along similar lines, be wary of the Nigerian advance fee scam.
- Unknown Caller: The most common scam in America still occurs over an old-fashioned phone call. If you suspect the person you are speaking with is a fraudster, the best policy is to end the conversation immediately and report the incident to the Federal Communications Commission.
- And the list goes on…
Scams are not going away. In fact, as technology evolves, scamming operations are becoming more sophisticated and believable. That is why it is up to you to take every unsolicited communication with a grain of salt. Only vigilance will keep you, your identity and your money safe.
For more ways you can avoid being the victim of a scam, check out the free materials on our website regarding identity theft and fraud protection.