Common Fraud and Scams
Fraud or Scam Indicator -
- Asks for personal information, social security number, banking information.
- Asks for payment via gift cards, pre-paid credit cards, money transfers, or bitcoin.
- Grammatical or spelling errors.
- Email address is personal or doesn’t match the company.
- Conversation becomes threating.
Identity theft is when someone uses your personal identifying information (PPI), like your name, an identifying number (social security, driver’s license, employee, medical), or financial information (bank account, credit card numbers), without your permission.
Fraudsters or Scammers might steal your name and address, credit card, or bank account numbers, Social Security number, or medical insurance account numbers.
And they could use them to:
- buy things with your credit cards
- get new credit cards in your name
- open a phone, electricity, or gas account in your name
- steal your tax refund
- use your health insurance to get medical care
- pretend to be you if they are arrested
How to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of Identity Theft?
- Protect your personal identifying information (PII) - Keep your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards, and any other documents that have personal information in a safe place. Shred documents when you no longer need them.
- Read credit card and bank statements carefully and often.
- Read the statements from your health insurance plan to match your services.
- Review your credit report at least once a year for discrepancies.
- Never leave wallets or purses unattended.
- Protect your information from scammers online and on your phone -
- If you’re logging in to an online account, have a strong password. And add multi-factor authentication if offered.
- Never provide credit card information to anyone. Financial Institutions already have all necessary card and personal information and should not ask. Many frauds involve parties posing as representatives from financial institutions. When in doubt, call the number on the back of your credit card BEFORE providing any information.
- Be cautious whenever purchasing from online retailers. Always make sure that the transaction takes place on a secure website. Look for the padlock icon in front of the website address!
- Ask questions before giving out any PII
Some organizations need your Social Security number to verify your identity. Those organizations include the IRS, your bank, and your employer. They won’t call, email, or text you to ask for it.
Other organizations that might ask you for your Social Security number might not really need it, including a medical provider, a company, or your child’s school.
Ask these questions before you give out your Social Security number:
- Why do you need it?
- How will you protect it?
- Can you use a different identifier?
- Can you use just the last four digits of my Social Security number?
What is a skimmer?
A devise used to collect data from debit or credit cards as it is swiped through a magnetic reader.
How to avoid card skimming?
- Pay with cash.
- Pay inside.
- Pay with a mobile app, like Apple or Google pay.
Social Security Scams
Be alert! It is important to beware of scammers pretending to be from Social Security. Reports about fraudulent phone calls from people claiming to be from Social Security continue to increase.
Social Security may call you in some situations, but will never:
- Threaten you.
- Suspend your Social Security number.
- Demand immediate payment from you.
- Require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or mailing cash.
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
Phishing and Smishing
What is phishing?
Phishing is a scam typically carried out through unsolicited email and/or websites that pose as legitimate sites and lure unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.
What is Smishing?
Smishing is a form of phishing, when someone tries to trick you into revealing personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, via a text or SMS message, alleging to be from reputable companies.
Someone calls or contacts you saying they’re a family member or close friend. They say they need money to get out of trouble.
The scammer may already know a lot about you or the person they’re pretending to be. They may know your name, where you live, and other information they could have found on social media sites or by hacking a family member’s email.
Here are other tactics scammers use in fake emergency scams:
- The scammers usually involve an “authority figure,” like a fake lawyer, police officer, or doctor. They think it makes them sound more convincing, and it scares you.
- The scammers say it’s urgent and that you’re the only one who can help.
- They tell you it’s important to keep it secret. They tell you that because they don’t want you talking to other family members and friends and realizing it’s a scam.
Scammers play with your emotions. They’re counting on you to act quickly to help your family or friends.
Remember these quick tips to protect you or your loved ones:
- SLOW DOWN- Scammers use fear to get you to act quickly. Don’t respond immediately.
- Write down the phone number of the caller and hang up.
- Call a family member or friend to verify the whereabouts of your grandchild.
- Don’t purchase gift cards, send cash or wire transfers.
- When in doubt, hang up and call the police!
Learn more about how to protect yourself from this scam at https://www.fcc.gov/watch-out-grandparent-scams , https://www.aarp.org/.../scams.../info-2019/grandparent.html or https://youtu.be/QEPdo_DvakY
Other Common Scams Include:
Puppy Scams - Be cautious of online ads for a dog, or any pet, that pooch’s pic may just be a trick to steal your money. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2021/11/get-dog-or-cat-instead-scam
Romance/Dating Scams - Romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the FTC in 2020. That’s up about 50% from 2019. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-you-need-know-about-romance-scams
Charity/Disaster Scams - Be careful who and what you decide to support. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams