These days, there are more ways to connect to other people than ever before. And unfortunately, that means scammers too. Lots of apps and websites that are supposed to make our lives easier can also make it easier for criminals to steal your money or your identity. Here are some tips to help you steer clear of fraudsters and stay scam-free.
UPDATE: Beware of coronavirus (COVID-19) scams! Fraudsters are sending out emails related to the outbreak. For more information, visit our Fraud Prevention page.
1. Never give anybody your login credentials and passwords. A legitimate business will NEVER ask for your online banking login.
2. Don’t fall for “secret shopper” scams. Never give information or money to someone who contacts you with a “secret shopper” opportunity. There are legitimate secret shopper companies, but you should be the one contacting them. Never do business with “mystery” or “secret shopper” firms who….
- Advertise for shoppers in classified ads or through email
- Require that you pay for “certification” or to get access to mystery shopper jobs
- Guarantee you a job as a mystery shopper
- Ask you to deposit a check for them and wire some or all of the money to someone.
3. Don’t get scammed by an online buyer. Selling something online? Look for these warning signs that your buyer might be out to scam you:
- The buyer can’t meet in person
- The buyer offers more money than you were asking
- The buyer asks you to send money through Western Union or MoneyGram
- The buyer only sends you text messages and won’t speak to you on the phone
4. Watch out for tech support and virus removal scams. If you receive a pop-up message, phone call, spam email, or other “urgent” message about problems with your computer, don’t respond. Don’t click on any links, don’t give out any information, and don’t send any money.
5. Beware of fake IRS agents. The IRS will never call you about past due taxes and threaten you over payment. And they’ll never ask you to “confirm” your Social Security number or bank account information.
6. You can’t win a lottery in a foreign country. You can’t win a lottery you didn’t enter. Scammers may try to pressure or trick you into giving them personal information, but don’t fall for it!
7. Verify all emergency calls. Scammers may call or contacting you via email or text posing as relatives or friends. They’ll say that they’re in some terrible situation and beg you to send money immediately. Calls like this can be scary, and naturally you’ll want to help. But you should always verify any supposed emergency:
- Hang up and call the family member or friend at a number you know to be genuine.
- Double check the story with other friends and family.
- Never wire money, use money transfer apps, or send money via overnight delivery options to people or places you aren’t familiar with.
There are a lot of scammers out there, but staying calm and using tips like these can help you avoid them.