Tips & Resources

4 Tips to Recognizing a Scam

4 Tips to Recognizing a Scam

Scammers are out in full force – The recent COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in the number of criminals scamming people out of their hard-earned money. Between pretending to be the IRS to rob people of their stimulus money to romance and sweepstake scams, the combination of fear, desperation, and loneliness has created the perfect storm for scammers to attack.

The most effective way to identify a scam and prevent being a victim is awareness and knowing these important security tips. The vast majority of scams have specific correlations you can look for, ask yourself the following questions if you think you’re being the target of a scam.

1. Were you contacted out of the blue by someone saying that they are from an organization you know, like government agencies (such as the IRS), insurance companies, utility companies, or charities asking for donations?

    • Scammers are very good at pretending to be someone from these trusted organizations. Things like changing their caller ID to appear as the trusted organization, to making their email address look like it’s coming from one of these organizations – Scammers do everything they can to convince you they are someone you should trust.

2. Is the person contacting you saying that there is some sort of problem/prize involved and pressures you to act immediately or within a specific time?

    • Scammers want you to act immediately so that you do not have time to think. Scammers use scare tactics stating that there is a major problem, such as owing the IRS back taxes, and threaten jail time or that they will take away licenses, homes, or businesses to scare you into acting quickly without thinking. They also use excitement tactics, such as saying you won a sweepstake, and say that if you do not act immediately; you will lose eligibility to claim the prize.

3. Were you told to pay in a specific way that is not common for a business to use, such as using a money transfer service or a gift card?

    • Both of these methods of sending money are irreversible, so once the money is sent, there is little chance of getting it back.

4. Did you receive a check and told to deposit it into your bank account and then directed to immediately send some of the money back?

    • No legitimate business will ever knowingly send out a check and then immediately require the customer to send money back. This is always a scam!

Asking yourself these four questions can help you avoid being scammed, and sharing these tips can help a friend or family member recognize if they are being targeted too.

For more information on preventing, recognizing, and reporting scams, visit the FTC’s website https://www.consumer.ftc.org/articles/how-avoid-scam.

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