Protect Yourself and Your Finances
Scammers and fraudsters are always looking for new ways to target innocent consumers and businesses, and in the last year, it has been no different. According to the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book and the Federal Trade Commission, more than $3.3 million in fraud was reported, with a 34 percent financial loss. While younger people reported being defrauded more frequently, older people experienced larger losses. Scammers commonly use phone calls, text messages, and emails to defraud, as they can more easily conceal their identity and be misleading.
There are a number of popular scams that everyone should know about so they can keep protected and stay alert. Here are some of the most common and how they work:
- Scams involving the IRS and Social Security. This scam is commonly used because it’s an easy way to scare people into thinking they are in trouble with the government, yielding high returns in terms of stolen funds. Scammers will call an individual, impersonating an IRS or SSA worker, requesting payment under threat of legal action. They may demand money for a number of reasons, or lead you to believe you are in criminal trouble by threatening to revoke your SSN or driver’s license.
- Scams that target the elderly. Our elderly community is a vulnerable community, and thus a prime target for scammers. They may call someone, pretending to be a grandchild or other family member in financial dire straits, in an attempt to scam them out of precious money. Oftentimes, money will be requested via a wire transfer, such as Western Union.
- Scams involving romance and long-distance relationships. With the ever-growing popularity of online dating, scammers have taken advantage of these social networks to take their grift to a new level. Scammers create fake dating profiles designed to draw in emotionally vulnerable single people, and then manipulate a victim’s personal feelings in order to get money; these profiles generally mimic Americans who have jobs that have them out of the country, and the scam is to find someone to “pay” for them to come back to the United States.
If you feel like you might fall victim an online scam, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Always check the content of a text or email asking for money – if there are a number of spelling or grammatical errors, it’s likely not legitimate.
- Don’t provide any third-party source your personal info if asked, and be cautious as to what personal info you share on social media.
- Take caution when clicking links or attachments – make sure you know who sent it.
- Understand that the IRS and Social Security Administration will not contact you by phone, text message, email, or social media.
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