Beware of Scams
Jan 06, 2022
As the New Year gets underway, scammers are increasing their efforts to trick people into revealing their personal information for unscrupulous reasons, usually to defraud them. It’s common for them to misrepresent themselves as government, bank, or technology company employees who are contacting you for your own good. These fraudsters may pressure you to reveal personal information by trying to intimidate you or threatening legal consequences. Here are some pointers that can prevent you from falling prey to scams:
- Government Agencies Contact You Only by Postal Mail. The Internal Revenue Service and Social Security never request personal information or payment over the phone, by e-mail, text message, or through social media. Contact with the public is always through postal mail.
- Payment Methods Requested Can Be a Tip Off. Don’t fall for a tax collection scam either by phone or letter that claims you owe taxes and asks for payment via a prepaid debit card, which is impossible to trace, or a wire transfer, which transfers funds directly into an account.
- Don’t Click on Links in Suspicious Emails. Emails that look legitimate often are not, especially if they contain links for you to click on to enter personal information on another site. It could be a phony “phishing” site attempting to capture confidential financial information. These phony sites may also install malware on your computer.
- Never Give a Caller Access to Your Computer. Technology companies will never call you to claim that your computer is malfunctioning and ask for access to repair it. If you hear that there’s an urgent security problem or suspicious activity on your computer that needs immediate attention, hang up. It’s an attempt to steal your personal information and install malware.
- Never Cash or Deposit a Check from Someone You Don’t Know. A bad check will be held against your account when it doesn’t clear. Remember that you can’t win a sweepstakes that you never entered from fake or foreign lotteries, charities, and contests, so never deposit the phony checks that they send along with a letter claiming that you’re a winner.
- Verify the Identity of Anyone Asking for Credit Card Information Over the Phone or Online. Independently verify the legitimacy of anyone requesting your credit card number. Check statements carefully and report any unauthorized charges within 60 days to limit your liability. You will need to notify companies that bill your card automatically of your new number. Experts suggest using one card just for autopay accounts and a different card for everyday spending to minimize potential inconvenience and exposure.
Remember never to unwittingly give thieves an opportunity to steal your identity and open accounts in your name by guarding your financial information and limiting the personal identifiers that you share on social media. By being aware of popular scams, you may shield yourself and your family from becoming victims of fraud.