Don’t fall victim to a fraud! Here are 10 tips to outsmart even the trickiest tricksters.
1. Spot Imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t spend money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request, whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
2. Conduct Smart Searches. Not sure if a message or email is the real deal? Type the company or product name into your favorite search engine along with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” You can also search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call from [company]” or search for specific phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
3. Don’t Believe Caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always right. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back using a number you know is genuine.
4. Don’t Pay Upfront for a Promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you must pay taxes or fees. Legitimate businesses do not do this.
5. Consider How You Pay. Though credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods if you truly owe them money.
6. Talk to Someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry, and they might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert, or tell a friend. You can even call us right here at First Education if you want a second opinion!
7. Hang Up on Robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up immediately and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
8. Be Skeptical About Free Trial Offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize!
9. Don’t Deposit a Check and Wire Money Back. By law, financial institutions must make funds from deposited checks available within days but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the financial institution.
10. Sign Up for Free Scam Alerts. To get FTC Consumer Alerts sent right to your inbox, click here.
Always remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Stop, think, and don’t be rushed into a decision.