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Tips to avoid scams

Learn what to watch for.

Know The Key Signs.

Cyber security threats make headlines nearly every week, reporting effects on big businesses and every day citizens like you. Knowing the key signs of a scam and understanding the important role you play in staying safe from fraudsters, are two important first steps.

What to expect

  1. SCAMMERS: Pretend to be from an organization you know.

    The internet is filled with data points about you and scammers know how to dig for just enough information about you to make a scam feel believable. They may pose as your utility company, cell phone provider, or even your bank. They may pose as a retailer you actually frequent, like Amazon or Wal-Mart. They may act like they’re from the government entity like the Social Security Administration or Medicare, or a charity that matters to you. They use technology to change the Caller ID so the name and number look very believable. You should not rely on Caller ID information to be accurate.

    HOW YOU STAY SAFE: Never give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you are not expecting. Legitimate organizations will not call, email or text you for your personal information, like your Social Security number, bank account, Secure Access Code or credit card numbers.

  2. SCAMMERS: Say there’s a problem or a prize.

    They might say there’s a problem with your account that requires you to verify some information, or that you’re in trouble with the government, IRS or Unemployment Office. Others may tell you you’ve won a wonderful prize, but have to pay a fee to get it, or that you have a family member in grave danger and you must pay money to get them safe.

    HOW YOU STAY SAFE: If a company you trust contacts you and you think it’s real, it’s still smart to not click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know to be authentic or look up their phone number and call them back. Do not call a number you see on Caller ID or a number given to you by a call or text. Take matters into your own hands and ensure you’re talking to the trusted organization.

  3. SCAMMERS: Pressure you to act immediately.

    Scammers know how to use adrenaline and stress to distract you to act before thinking. They use threats to control your behavior – threats to sue you, take away your driver’s license or arrest you.

    HOW YOU STAY SAFE: Resist the urge to act quickly. Legitimate businesses will give you the time to make a thoughtful decision. Anyone who pressures you to give information or act quickly is likely a scammer.

  4. SCAMMERS: Require you to pay in a specific way.

    Some scammers will insist you pay through a money transfer company, or put money on a gift card and require you to give them the number on the back. Some will send you a check, have you cash it and send them a portion or all of the money – only for you to later find out the check was fake and you then owe the bank who cashed it the money you already mailed.

    HOW YOU STAY SAFE: Know the ways scammers typically ask their victims to pay and do not fall for it. Never pay someone insisting on a gift card or money transfer service, and never deposit a check and send money back to someone.

STOP. THINK. TALK. Before doing anything, talk to a trusted friend or advisor -- tell someone about what happened. Talking about it can help you realize it’s a scam. If you have vulnerable family members or friends, be sure to talk with them about how to stay safe from scammers. Use your knowledge and experience to help someone else.


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