Scam artists abound, and anyone can be fooled by their well-practiced presentation. Over the phone, via the internet, in person or in the mail, they are constantly looking for new victims and ways to hit susceptible people more than once.
Sweepstake scams, home improvement and repair scams, “Help me I can’t get home” scams, no-fail investments, ponzi schemes - you name it, if it can be thought of, it’s been done.
According to the FBI, there are telltale signs that something is a scam. Those include:
- You have to act now or lose out.
- You have to put money up front to claim a prize.
- You have to provide credit card information or a check.
- You are assured it is legitimate and you don’t need to check with anyone.
- You are told it is unnecessary to ask for information or references.
If you fall for a scheme, it is virtually impossible to get your money back. There are simple steps to avoid becoming a victim in the first place.
Talk about proposals you receive with a trusted advisor. Be sure older people in your life know they should turn to you for advice before making any decisions that involve money.
Shred any papers before recycling or disposal that reveal your name and account or customer numbers.
Never give anyone account numbers unless you initiate the contact. Banks and credit card companies will not call you and ask for your account number.
Keep a close watch on your bank account. Reconcile it regularly.
Keep a list of the phone numbers to call if you lose a credit card or have it stolen. Keep this list in your wallet, a copy at home and the office. Do not include your account numbers. Report any lost or stolen cards immediately.
If you notice unusual activity on your account, report it to the company and the police immediately.
Review your credit report once a year. Notify the credit bureau of any questionable entries in writing. Make certain they are removed or explained.
There are as many types of fraud as there are people. Listen to your gut, use some common sense to protect yourself, and remember the old saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
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Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation