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article on scams

Don’t Get Scammed

Have you ever said to yourself you would never be a victim of a scam?  Then you read or saw a news clip realizing you have been SCAMMED!  You are not alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2020, 4.8 million people in the US were victimized by identity theft and fraud. In total, consumers lost 3.3 billion dollars. The top two categories were credit card and stimulus check scams

Be Aware – Scammers use text messaging, social media, fake internet sites, spyware, emails, internet pop-ups, and telephone calls (robocalls or live person). Below are some of the most common scams.

 The Fake Check scam asks you to deposit a check, and in return, you can keep some of the money and wire the rest of the money to another person, charity, or organization. The scammers always have a good story to explain why you can’t keep all the money. They might say they need it to cover taxes or fees. The checks look real, but they are fake. They may even contain account numbers from legitimate business accounts. Once you deposit the check, the money is available to you for withdrawal within days, but it may take weeks for the check to come back as fake, and you are left owing the money to the bank.

Advertisements in print, on television, social media, or over the internet ask you to sign up for new credit-card accounts with offers of easy credit, lowered rates, no fees, or high credit limits.  It is very appealing, especially for individuals who can’t qualify for accounts with established credit-card companies.

Emergency Text Alert on your cell phone alerts you to a “problem’’ with your account. You are asked for the three-digit security number on the card so the account can be “fixed.’’ Never respond to phone texts or phone calls. Always phone your actual credit card company or bank.

Malicious Software exists on websites and emails using spyware, key-loggers, viruses, and pop-up ads asking for your passwords and other personal information. The best protection is to install a good security system on your computer to protect yourself. Never open an attachment from an unknown source.

1-900 numbers sent to you via text, telephone, mail, email, or social media and have you pay money to dial or remain on the 1-900 line.  Never dial 1-900. Legitimate businesses will always provide a free 1-800 number and not ask you to pay for the phone call.

Fake Trial Offers get you to sign up for a product or service but do not tell you that you must cancel your account once the trial period is over to avoid charges. Get the offer sent to you in the mail.  Always read the fine print and know the deal before committing.

Online Auction/Shopping sites manipulate consumers into buying items using deceptive bidding schemes. Sometimes, they offer products that don’t exist or live up to their claims. They may claim that you are a winner of an item that you were bidding on because the highest bidder has pulled out and offer you the item. If they ask for payment via money order, pre-paid credit or debit card, or wire transfer, then you know it is a scam.

Credit Repair Promises from companies that promote they can remove negative credit information on your credit report history (even if it’s accurate information) is illegal. There’s only one cure for a bad credit score — time, persistence, and an honest effort to pay your bills on time. If there is incorrect or negative information on your credit report, you can directly address it.

The Charity Scam typically occurs after a disaster (hurricane, flood, wildfire).  Scammers pretend they are from a reputable charity, like the Red Cross or Salvation Army.

Don’t give your credit number over the phone. Instead, ask for the name and address of the charity. Hang up the phone and check the legitimacy of the organization. Go online and use IRS’s tax-exempt search engine:  https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search or the Charity Navigator search engine:  https://www.charitynavigaor.org

The hotspot Scam preys on those needing access to public Wi-Fi.  When you access the link for “free public Wi-Fi,” and you are asked to input personal information, including credit card or bank account information, this means it is a scam.

The Credit Card “sign-up” scam offers participants the promise of easy money.  The scammers will open credit cards using your social security number and give you money back from the rewards they collect from using credit cards.  Scammers put thousands of dollars on cards, cash in the points, and move on to their next victims. Victims wind up with huge balances and trashed credit scores.

The Credit Card Overcharge scam informs you that your account was overcharged and asks you to verify your account by giving them your personal and credit card information.  Hang up and call your credit card company directly.

The Lower Interest Rate Scam informs you that you are eligible for significantly lower interest rates. The scammer will request your personal information that will include your social security number and credit card information.

BEST PRACTICES TO AVOIDING GETTING SCAMMED

1.Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer

 2.Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.

3. Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request over the phone, text, email, or social media. 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. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.

4. Check your credit report history at least every four months for free by going to https://www.annaualcreditreport.com.Getting your credit report can help protect your credit history from mistakes, errors, or signs of identity theft.

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Reporting Information

Contact the FBI to report a Financial Scam

6061 Gate Parkway

Jacksonville, Florida 32256

(904)248-7000

Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report Identity Theft

Federal Trade Commission

IdentityTheft.gov

(877)438-4338

Sources:

Federal Trade Commission (consumer.ftc.gov)

FBI (fbi.gov/scamsandsafety)