How to avoid scams and keep your identity and finances safe
Scammers are constantly evolving their nefarious strategies. Make sure you’re evolving how you keep your finances and identity safe.
ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR WARNING SIGNS AND RED FLAGS
The best way to protect yourself from scams and fraud is to always be on the lookout for warning signs and red flags. But constant surveillance means nothing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Thankfully, you can stay one step ahead of the scammers by staying up to date on all their schemes.
Account Review Scams
As we point out many times in this list, fear and urgency are often leveraged by scammers to make you act without thinking. This is especially true in account review scams, when scammers text members that their account is being reviewed and they must click a link to avoid closure of their account. Of course, this link is fraudulent and will gain the scammer access to the account. Instead of clicking on the link, take a screenshot and send it to your credit union’s fraud department.
External Transfer Scams
There’s not much a scammer loves more than to gain access to your account so they can transfer your money to themselves. That’s why they’re contacting people to help set up external transfers. Financial institutions will never contact you about external transfers, so anyone offering help should be reported immediately.
Online Shopping Scams
Scammers love to set up fake online stores which require you to pay in ways legitimate stores would never ask. They don’t want you to pay with a credit or debit card because they don’t want you to have the protections offered by those payment methods.
Pay Yourself Scams
Someone claiming to be from your financial institution will contact you to warn you of fraudulent activity on your account. They’ll then require you to transfer money to yourself to resolve the problem. Only there isn’t actually a problem, and they now have access to your funds.
Text Message Scams
These include scammers texting you about suspicious or fraudulent activity on your account. They feature a link that takes you to a page that looks like the online banking login page of your financial institution. Once you enter your login information, however, the scammers can now take over your account. Be extra cautious with these, as scammers have gotten very good at cloning text messages and webpages to look exactly like those of your financial institution.
Tech Support Scams
A fake tech support specialist will contact you saying they need access to your device to fix a problem. Except the real problem is they now have access to your personal information.
Utility Shutoff Scams
You’ll be contacted by someone claiming to work for the utility company informing you that you’re behind on your payments and your service will be cut off if you don’t pay immediately. Fear is one of a scammer’s best weapons.
Other than fear, love is another emotion scammers love to use to their advantage. They’ll create fake social media profiles in order to gain your trust and affection. They’ll then use that trust and affection to get you to send them money.
SO MANY SCAMS, SO MANY WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Seeing all of those scams in one place can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, protecting yourself is easy as long as you stay vigilant and follow these tips.
NEVER Share Your Personal Information
You’ve surely heard this one before, but it really is the most important step to keeping your finances and identity safe. Never give out your personal information. Even if you get a call from someone claiming to be from a legitimate company, don’t share your personal information. Instead, hang up, call back using a number you know is legitimate, and ask about the communication you received.
Take a Breath and Think
We told you about scammers utilizing fear to get what they want. They do this because a fearful person is often an irrational person open to easy manipulation. They want you to act without thinking. But no matter what, always take a breath and think. No legitimate company is going to demand payment immediately to fix a problem. If you feel pressured, end the communication and call back at a number you know is legitimate to explain what you just encountered.
Abnormal Payment Requests = Fraudulent Requests
Our Fox credit and debit cards come with features that help protect you against fraud and scams. That’s why scammers will request you pay them in different ways, such as with gift cards, money transfers, or third-party mobile payment apps. If you get a request like this, hang up and contact the company the scammer was claiming to work for to alert them of the situation.
Don’t Answer Online Quizzes
Scrolling through Facebook and see a fun-looking quiz or a post asking about your first car or your favorite childhood pet? Just keep on scrolling. These may look innocent, but they’re actually tools for scammers to gain info on answers to security questions. Your best move is to ignore them and move on.
DON’T FORGET, WE’RE YOUR PARTNER IN ALL THIS
We’re here to help you with whatever you need. Have concerns about a call, text, or email you received? Feel uncertain about a payment request or threatening communication? Give us a call at 920-993-9000 or contact us another way, and we’ll do whatever we can to keep you, your finances, and your identity safe and sound.
Fox Communities Credit Union is a full-service, not-for-profit financial institution serving members throughout Eastern Wisconsin, including Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh, Manitowoc, and Milwaukee.