5 tips to safeguard yourself from fraudOct 01, 2023 04:10PM ● By Natalie Campisi
Fraud is often so well-disguised that it’s usually too late by the time you realize you’ve been duped.
One familiar scenario is getting a phishing email from a bank imposter. Some fraudulent emails look so authentic it’s nearly impossible to distinguish them from an actual bank email. Romance scams
According to Federal Trade Commission data, imposter scams were the most common method of fraud in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2023. Romance scams, a type of imposter scam where a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust, accounted losses totaling $1.3 billion in the last five years.
Typically, scammers prey on your fears—saying your account has been hacked, for instance. They might also use the “ticking time bomb” approach to get you to act fast, before you have a chance to think. Before you know it, you’re clicking on a misleading link and giving over sensitive information.
Vigilance is key. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you sidestep con games.
1. Be suspicious of all incoming calls, emails and other communication
Assume any incoming communication is fraudulent. If you receive an email, phone call or letter, don’t respond. Instead, contact the source of the message—whether it’s a bank, the IRS or some other entity—using a verified channel. Don’t use the phone number, link, website address or email provided in the incoming communication; those details could be fraudulent.
2. Don’t trust caller ID
Scammers can spoof caller ID to make their cons look authentic. Don’t assume you’re being called by the business or person identified on the screen.
3. Don’t be tempted by prizes or free cash
Scammers often use prizes or promises of free cash to lure people into divulging their private information. One frequent tactic is asking a victim to pay a small fee in exchange for a prize.
4. Block unwanted calls and text messages
Protect yourself and your family members—including minors and older relatives who may be more susceptible to scams—by filtering and blocking spam calls and texts. Both iPhones and Androids have useful settings that will weed out spam and lessen the threat of scams.
You can also use call-blocking apps to filter spam calls and robocalls. Check the Cellular Telephone Industries Association website for options from various wireless providers.
5. Don’t let yourself be scared into acting
Many con artists rely on fear to motivate victims. They may say they’re from the government, claim you owe money and threaten to repossess your car or house if you don’t pay up. Before you act, always verify the caller’s identity. Simply hang up the phone and call the department or organization yourself, using a known phone number—one printed on a paper bill, for example—to check the information. Many times you’ll find the original call was a scam.
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