Scammers are constantly altering their techniques in their mission to steal the personal and financial information of unsuspecting people. But the foundation of this fraudulent activity often stays the same.
Below are some common signs of a scam from the Federal Trade Commission. Being able to recognize a scam as it’s happening is the key to keeping your sensitive information safe.
Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know, including government agencies.
They might use a real name (FTC, IRS, Medicare) or come up with a name that sounds official. They may say they’re from a familiar business like your bank or utility company. They change the information on your caller ID to make it appear like an official organization is contacting you.
What to do: Hang up the phone. Then, look up the phone number for the organization or business in question to inquire directly. Do not call the number they gave you or the one on your caller ID. If they contact you in an email or text message, don’t click any links. Remember, honest organizations won’t call, email or text you to ask for your personal information.
Scammers say there’s a problem or a prize.
They may say you’re in trouble with the government or that you owe the IRS money. They may tell you that a loved one had an emergency. They may say your computer has a virus or there’s a problem with your account. They may even congratulate you on winning a sweepstakes then ask for a fee to claim your prize.
What to do: Talk to someone you trust before you do anything. Tell a friend, family member, or neighbor what happened. Talking it through could help you realize it’s a scam.
Scammers pressure you to act immediately.
They want you to take action before you’ve had time to think it through. They may threaten arrest, a lawsuit, driver’s or business license suspension, or deportation. They may say your computer will be corrupted.
What to do: Resist the pressure. Honest organizations will always give you time to decide and will never pressure you for payment or personal information.
Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.
They insist on payment with cryptocurrency, using a payment app, or purchasing a gift card and giving them the number. Sometimes they send a check (that is fake) and tell you to deposit it then send them the money.
What to do: Never pay someone you don’t know with cryptocurrency, wire transfer, payment app, or gift card. This is especially true if you’re being pressured. Also, never deposit an unexpected check and send money back to someone you don’t know.
At McCoy, the privacy and safety of our members’ personal and financial information is important to us. Please remember, we will never ask you for sensitive information (card numbers, PINs or passwords) by email or text message. We will also never request that you download software for any reason in an email or text message.