Scammers are getting more cunning and advanced in their attempts to obtain your money or personal information. The reality is these predators are deliberately taking advantage of today’s technology by innovating ways to cause harm. Avoid being scammed by understanding the tell-tale signs of today’s digital predators:
Scammers target everybody.
Scammers prey on people of all ages, backgrounds, and income levels. No one group of individuals is more prone to fall victim to scams; we are all vulnerable to scams.
Scams succeed by impersonating the actual thing and catching you off guard when you least expect it. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, taking advantage of new technology, new products or services, and important events to manipulate you into giving them your money or personal information.
Scammers pretend to be a legitimate organization.
Scammers frequently impersonate government officials while contacting you. Some hide behind the facade of a well-known company, such as a utility, a tech firm, or even a charity soliciting money. They may use a real name, such as the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Medicare, or they may even invent a name that sounds legitimate.
They alter the phone number displayed on your caller ID using technology. As a result, the name and phone number you see could be fake.
Scammers will tell you that there’s a problem or a prize.
Scammers might tell you that you have problems with the government or another legitimate organization. They might trick you into believing that you owe them money or that someone in your family is in an emergency. On the other hand, they might tell you that there’s a prize for you, but you need to pay them a fee to claim it.
Scammers put you under pressure to act immediately.
Scammers want you to react quickly without thinking. These pressures are more often than not emotional triggers to get you to act without giving you time to process anything. They may threaten to arrest you, file a lawsuit against you, suspend your driver’s or business license, or deport you. Scammers could even go as far as telling you that a loved one was involved in a car accident over the phone and having an accomplice pretend to be that family member, which then triggers you to act without any regard to reason. If you find yourself in this situation, they will tell you not to hang up to prevent you from verifying their narrative.
Scammers will instruct you to pay in a particular way.
Scammers will insist that you pay via money transfer or by loading money into a gift card and then providing them the number on the back.
Some will mail you a check that’ll turn out to be fake, instruct you to deposit it, and then ask you to send them money.
What you can do to avoid getting scammed
Block unwanted phone calls and messages.
Take efforts to prevent predatory phone calls and text messages from reaching you because these unknown numbers can be blocked. Avoid handing out your personal phone number or email address to strangers unless you absolutely have to. Not to mention, subscribing to newsletters or signing up for events in-person or online may already be putting you at risk.
Don’t provide personal or financial information in response to an unexpected request.
Legitimate businesses will not contact you through phone, email, or text to ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card number.
Even if you receive an email or text message from a company that you believe is legitimate, you should still avoid clicking links or downloading documents. Instead, use a website you know is trustworthy to contact them. Alternatively, very if the phone number in question is legitimate. Do not call the number they provided you with or the number that appears on your caller ID.
Resist any pressure to act immediately.
Legitimate businesses will give you time to think before making a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information should immediately be considered a scammer. In this case, just walk away.
Avoid anyone who asks to pay in a very specific way.
Legitimate businesses will go through the correct avenues of transactions. They will not ask you to pay using a gift card or money transfer services. They will not send cheques and then ask you to pay them back.
Stop and talk to someone you trust.
Before immediately doing anything, stop and talk to family, friends, or anyone you trust about what happened. Talking with them can help you realize that it is a scam.
As much as we try to take precautions, sometimes being careful just isn’t going to be good enough. If you have already been scammed before, know that it isn’t your fault. You are the victim of criminal activity, not the cause. If you were scammed or believe that something is a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission and your banks immediately.