10 Tips to Avoid Fraud
Monday, August 5, 2019
Read Time: 3 mins
With fraud on the rise what steps can you take to help protect yourself and your identity from being compromised? Account numbers, credit card numbers, PINs, usernames, and even your mother’s maiden name are all pieces of personal information that scammers may try to get from you. We’ve composed 10 tips to help you protect yourself from fraud.
1. Spot the imposters.
Scammers will pretend to be someone you know, such as a family member, charity, or company you regularly do business with. If they unexpectedly reach out to you urgently requesting that you send them personal information or money, take a step back and think about the situation. Is it odd that they would be asking for this information? If you have a strange feeling about it, trust yourself.
2. Don’t trust caller ID.
Technology has made it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information. Always keep this in mind and know that the name and number you see displayed on your phone’s screen aren’t always accurate. If you receive an odd call from a familiar name or number, urgently asking for personal information or money, hang up. If you think it may be a legitimate call, call them back at the number you know is real.
3. Hang up on robocalls.
If the first thing you hear when you answer the phone is a recorded sales pitch, hang up. These types of calls are illegal and should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The products offered through these robocalls are often bogus. Don’t follow the prompts and press a button to speak to someone or to be taken off the call list because this could lead to more calls. You can also register for the Do Not Call List to help block telemarketers.
4. Be skeptical of free trials.
Free trials are hard to resist. Who wouldn’t love a month of free beauty products or the latest movie streaming app? With many companies though, after your free trial is over, you will continue to be billed every month at full-price until you cancel. Before you sign up for any trails, be sure to research the company and make sure you understand their cancellation policy. Review your monthly statements for any unauthorized transactions.
5. Consider how you pay.
Wiring money through money-transfer companies, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, is risky because it is nearly impossible to get your money back after it’s sent. The same can be said for reloadable gift cards. Government offices and reliable, honest companies won’t require you to use these methods to pay them, so think carefully before wiring money or sending gift cards.
6. Don’t pay upfront.
Many times, scammers will ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They may even claim that you have won a prize and all you have to do is pay the taxes and fees. If you pay, they will probably take the money and disappear.
7. Don’t deposit a check and wire money back.
In most cases, checks deposited are made available in your account within days. However, uncovering a fraudulent check can take weeks. If a check turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the institution. Check out our article Warning! That's A Scam to read more about scams like this.
8. Talk to someone.
Before you give away any information or money, talk to someone else about the situation. Scammers will try to make you decide in a hurry, and they may even try to threaten you. Before you decide to share any information or send any money, take a break to talk to someone.
9. Search online.
Search for the company name or product online with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam”. Search for a phrase that describes your situation such as “IRS call”. You can even search for phone numbers to see if others have reported it as a scam. To report phishing scams and read more on how to avoid them, check out the FTC article How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams.
10. Sign up for free scam alerts.
Get the latest tips and advice sent directly to you when you sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC.
If you suspect fraud or believe you've been the victim of identity theft, we're here to help. Contact us to report any fraudulent activity. Also, you can file a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.