keep ahead of scammers
It wasn’t that long ago when our money and assets felt safe, with investment accounts secured by SIPC insurance and bank accounts secured by FDIC insurance. If you happened to spot a fraudulent charge on your credit card, a quick phone call to your credit card removed the threat. Potential access to your personal finances was much more limited than in today’s world where the Internet, social media and a global reach have led to a proliferation of scams that can quickly wipe out your financial security.
While you need not live your life in a state of perpetual paranoia, a healthy level of vigilance and skepticism can go a long way in protecting your savings and preventing you from becoming a victim of fraud.
Understanding these four risks can help protect you and your financial security:
1) Scammers PRETEND to be from an
organization you know.
They may claim to be from the Social Security Administration, the IRS, a bank, or a well-known company, such as PayPal, Netflix, Amazon, etc.
Never give someone your password, bank information, PIN number, social security number, or personal identifying information. Never settle a debt or problem over the phone from an unexpected call that came your way.
2) Scammers say there’s a PROBLEM or a PRIZE.
You’ve won a big prize, just make a good faith down payment to receive your winnings. If you do, you’ll never see that money again.
3) Scammers PRESSURE you to act immediately.
Whether a scammer or salesperson, pressure to act immediately is a red flag. Hang up the phone. You are in control. Don’t cede that control to someone else.
4) Scammers tell you to PAY in a specific way.
They may insist you send money through a money transfer company or put money on a gift card. Then, they will ask you to give them the number on the back of the gift card. Or, someone will send you a check, request you to deposit it, and ask you to send them some of the money.
Major scams targeting older Americans
Whether it is Zoom phishing emails, Covid-19 vax card scams, phony online websites, or romance scams, please be leery when you venture online or on social media sites. Recently, the AARP highlighted some the avenues fraudsters use to take your money.
For example some will send you an email, text or social media message containing a link, indicating that your account has been suspected , but clicking on the link can allow criminals to download malicious software onto your computer.
Others will exploit something trending, such as ordering free Covid test kits. Criminals will attempt to impersonate these government sites by adding a few letters or a word like “free” within the link, which appears legit, but is not, encouraging you to divulge personal information.
Avoid being defrauded by following several commonsense tips offered by the FTC.
1. Block unwanted calls and text messages.
2. Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect.
Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information.
3. If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links.
Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Don’t call a number they provided or the number from your caller ID.
4. Resist the pressure to act immediately.
Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision.
5. Know how scammers tell you to pay.
Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card, by using a money transfer service, or by setting up a PayPal account. Additionally, never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
6. Stop and talk to someone you trust before you act.
If, unfortunately you find you have become a victim, you can report the incident to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
Just remember: Delete suspicious emails, ignore suspicious texts, hang up, and don’t argue with scammers.
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