Recognize the Signs of a Scam and Avoid Becoming a Victim.
Friday, July 28th, 2023
It seems like scams are everywhere and sometimes it feels like there’s no way to avoid being taken advantage of by heartless scammers. Don’t worry – we’ve put together the top red flags to look for and things you can do to avoid being the victim of a scam!
Scammers will often pretend to be from an organization you know, like the IRS, Medicare, or the Social Security Administration, or a trustworthy individual, like Janet Yellen, Barack Obama, or an FTC/CFPB official. They may make up a name that sounds official or pretend to be from a business with a name very close to well-known businesses.
Scammers tell you that there is a problem or a prize. They will say you owe money, or someone you know had an emergency, or that you are in trouble with the government. They may say there is a problem with one of your accounts or that there is a virus on your computer. On the other hand, scammers may tell you that you won a lottery or sweepstakes and now you must pay a fee in order to receive your winnings.
Scammers create pressure to get you to act immediately. They may make threats to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s license or professional license, or even deport you. They may say your computer is corrupted or your email has been hacked. If you are on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up.
Scammers want you to pay in a very specific way. Normally, scammers will use less common methods of payments like crypto, money wires through Western Union or MoneyGram, or buy purchasing gift cards and then giving them the gift card information. Sometimes scammers will send you a check (which is fake even though it may look real), tell you to deposit the money, and then send it to them.
Never send money to someone you don’t know! Never pay someone who insists that you pay with cryptocurrency, a money wire, or a gift card.
Look for misspellings & poor grammar. Scammers will often use texts & emails that have extra letters, or they may use someone’s full name when that person normally goes by a nickname.
Do not act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you, threatens you, or yells at you to pay or to give them your personal information immediately is probably a scammer. Legitimate businesses will not call, email, or text to ask for your personal information (like your Social Security number, bank account info, or credit card number).
Block unwanted calls and text messages. It’s ok to let suspicious calls go to voicemail.
Never pay for a prize.
If you are eligible for government assistance, you do not need to make any payments to the government to receive the assistance.
Unsure if a call/text, or email is legitimate? Do not engage and talk to a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor instead. This may help you realize it is a scam. If you are still unsure, refer to the FTC and CFPB’s websites for lots of detailed information about many different types of scams.
Most importantly, don’t be ashamed! There are so many scams and new ones are being deployed every day. There is a scam designed for everyone, even the savviest consumers. Do your best to educate yourself and your loved ones and know your rights if you are the victim of a scam.
Report scams to the FTC here: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/