10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud
November 2nd, 2020
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides tips about what you can do to avoid fraud. If you spot a fraud scam, report it — your report to the FTC and local law enforcement will help investigate scams and bring criminals to justice.
Spot Imposters — scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a family member, a charity or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes in a text, a phone call or an email.
Do online searches — Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
Don’t believe your caller ID — Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up! If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
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 have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably disappear. Learn where to get real help with these issues at www.consumer.ftc.gov
Consider how you pay — Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but 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.
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. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
Hang up on robocalls — If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up 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.
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.
Don’t deposit a check or wire money back — By law, banks 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 fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.
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If you spot a scam … tell the FTC (1-877-382-4357) and local law enforcement.