Every year millions of people fall victim to scammers trying to defraud them. The technology they use is constantly evolving but the tricks stay the same. Their sole purpose is to persuade people to send them money or give them personal information. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information.
Here are some tips to help you be prepared should you find yourself possible being the target of a scam.
Keep a lookout for imposters
When it comes to scamming, the ones behind the scam are usually someone you would normally trust. They are often posing as a member of your family, a charitable organization or even someone claiming to be a government official. Regardless of how you are contacted (email, text or phone) never provide personal information or send money.
Don’t pay upfront for a promise
When it comes to things like debt relief, mortgage help or credit/loan offers, you may be asked to pay in advance. Don't. Chances are they will take your money and disappear.
Do online research
You can search for information on scams by researching the company product name from which you were contacted. Look for anything related to reviews, scams or complaints. You can also search by phrase like (call from IRS). If you have the phone number, you can search by that as well and see if there have been any reports of it being a scam.
Don’t assume the name and number showing on your phone is correct
Nowadays with technology, the caller ID information that shows up on your phone can be easily changed. If you get a call from someone asking for personal information or money, hang up right away.
Beware of the type of payment you are using
Credit cards come with built in fraud protection, but that can't be said for all methods of payments. Using services like MoneyGram or Western Union can be quite risky because your money will most likely not be returned to you. The same holds true for cards that you can reload money onto like Vanilla or MoneyPak. Anyone trustworthy and reputable will not request that you use these form of payments.
Talk to a trusted family member or friend
Prior to giving out personal information or money, make sure you reach out to someone trustworthy. Scammers are notorious for pushing you to into a rush decision. Take a breath and slow down. Make a phone call or do some online research to help you decide your next move.
If you receive a robocall, hang up right away
If you hear a recording when you pick up the phone, that is a robocall and it is illegal. Hang up right away and contact the FTC to make a report. If you happen to stay on the phone longer than you should, be sure not to press any numbers in an effort to try and speak to someone and get removed from a list. More times than not, this just leads to additional calls.
Be wary of any free offers
Free trials are notorious for getting you to sign up for a product or service and then they bill you monthly until a cancellation is received. Prior to signing up with any company, do some research and find out about the business and their cancellation policy. Also be sure you are looking at your monthly account statements to make sure you do not see any unfamiliar charges.
Never wire money back from a deposited check
Any time a check is deposited, the law says the bank must clear those funds and make them available to you. Unfortunately, weeks can go by before the bank uncovers a fake check. If you indeed got scammed with a phony check, you are now under obligation to repay the bank.
Stay in the know and subscribe to alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams.
This is our nation’s consumer protection agency so you know you are getting the latest info. They will help you stay a step ahead with the latest scams that are happening as well as practical tips on how to handle this type of situation should you fall prey to a scam. from the. If you do get targeted by a scam, take a moment to report it at ftc.gov/complaint. This helps their scam alert database stay up to date and it helps them get that much closer to bringing these scammers to justice.