Fraud is everywhere. While you’ll never avoid being a target for fraud, using these tips, you can avoid being a victim of most fraud attempts.
Online searches can save you from a number of scams. Before buying a product, type the company name, along with words like “review”, “scam”, or “complaint” to see what others have to say about the company. If you received a strange phone call, search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “Microsoft Tech Support Call”. For suspicious emails, put unique phrases from the email in quotes for your search to see if others received the same email and what came of it. You can even search for phone numbers to see if someone else reported the caller as a scam.
Scammers often impersonate trusted figures or companies, like government officials, military personnel, family members, or representatives of well-known companies. As a general rule, never send money or personal information in response to unexpected requests. If you suspect an unexpected request might be legitimate, hang up and call back using their official phone number, whether it’s a family member or phone number on the official company website.
Don’t Trust Caller ID
Technology makes it simple for scammers to fake caller ID information. Free websites and apps are freely available to everyone. If your caller ID shows the name of a company you do business with and you suspect it might be real, don’t be afraid to let them know that you’d prefer to call them back on their main phone number. Real companies will be understanding and likely commend the steps that you take to protect your safety.
Use Payment Methods with Fraud Protection
Credit cards come with significant fraud protection, but other payment methods do not. Wiring money or using gift cards are extremely risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. Government offices and legitimate businesses will never ask you to pay by Western Union, MoneyGram, MoneyPak, or gift cards. If you’re asked to pay someone through these means, it’s a scam.
Never Pay Up Front for a Promise
Scammers often ask victims to pay up front for things like prize winnings, debt consolidation, credit card or loan offers, the ability to view an apartment, mortgage assistance, or job offers. Legitimate offers don’t require payment up front for these things. If you choose to pay the fee, there’s a good chance, the scammer will take your money and run.
Don’t Deposit a Check then Wire Money Back
Scammers come up with all kinds of ways to convince people to do this. It might be to secure your winnings, as a “favor” that provides you with financial compensation for assisting, or any other excuse the scammer can fabricate. These are all scam attempts. By law, banks must make funds deposited from checks available within a few days. Uncovering forged or fake checks, however, may take weeks. After you’ve wired the funds, you can’t get your money back, meanwhile, you’re responsible for repaying the bank for the fake check, plus other associated fees.
Keep Your Personal Information to Yourself
Millions of people are victims of identity theft every year. Always keep your passwords protected, don’t share your financial information, shred paperwork containing sensitive information, and don’t leave your mail sitting around where it might tempt a potential identity thief.
Hang Up on Robocalls
If you answer the phone and hear a recording instead of a live person, just hang up. These calls are illegal in the United States and the product being offered is likely bogus. Legitimate companies won’t risk the fines by employing illegal tactics, but scammers aren’t easily traced and face no implications.
Talk to Someone
Before sharing personal information or making a payment outside of the ordinary, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to panic because they know it lowers your better judgement. They might even threaten you. Instead of acting on impulse, slow down. Check out the story. Search online for similar situations. Talk to someone else about the situation.
Use Browser Protection
Fraud on the Internet happens every day. From scam attempts to malware infections, threats are everywhere. Because cyber criminals use different techniques, no matter how well you educate yourself, you’ll never know each and every tactic criminals use. Browser protection bridges that gap and allows you to use the internet without the need to fear every click.
Clean up your browser and prevent future scams
If you have any questions about online scams and threats, we’re more than happy to talk and assist. You can contact us at email@example.com