Financial Security Technology Wellness

How to Recognize and Avoid Scams

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Con artists cheat Americans out of billions of dollars every year. At Riverview Bank, your safety is important to us, we want you to be able to recognize red flags for potential scams to help protect yourself, and your loved ones.  Below, are some great best practices and a virtual coach that allows you to personalize your situation.

Phishing

Phishing is when scammers pretend to be someone they are not to gather sensitive information or access to a person’s funds through a credit card, bank account or mobile payment service account like Cash App. Phishing can take many forms, including emails, texts, and even fake websites. Often, you will get an email or text informing you that there has been a problem with your account or offering you a great deal from a company you know and trust.

Never click on these links or enter your personal information. Navigate to a separate browser or even use a different device to go to the official website and review your account or check out the offer. Do not enter any of your information into a pop-up or when prompted by an email. Do not call any phone numbers that may pop-up.

Threatening Impersonations

Like phishing, scammers can also try to intimidate you into paying them by pretending to be a person in power. That could mean impersonating someone from the IRS, a debt collector, or anyone who demands you pay them immediately.

The IRS will never call you and ask you to pay. If you get a call claiming someone is from the IRS, hang up, and reach out to an official IRS channel to confirm if there is really a problem. You can find ways to contact the IRS at IRS.gov. When it comes to debt collection, you do not have to take the person at their word either. You can research the collector and send a Debt Validation Letter.

Scammers try to intimidate you by creating a sense of fear and urgency, so that you will pay them or give them information before you have the chance to really think it through. If you ever get a call that does that, be suspicious.

Scams Targeting Seniors

Unfortunately, seniors are often the group targeted most aggressively by scammers. This means that they need to be extra cautious when answering the phone or browsing the internet and vigilant about keeping their information and money protected. One tactic that scammers can use is to claim to be or represent a family member or loved one that is in trouble and needs money for an emergency. Seniors and anyone else who receives a call or email like this should always confirm the legitimacy of the cry for help before doing anything.

Malware or Ransomware

Some scams will install malware or ransomware on your device if you click on a link. That means that your device could be infected with a virus that steals your information or forces you to pay to get access to your files again. These links can come from pop-ups, ads, posts on social media, emails, or even messages from the accounts of friends or family that have been hacked.

You should always be wary of clicking on any link that someone sends you unprompted, particularly if they use extremely generic language or do not sound like themselves. If you do click on such a link and fear your device has been infected, you should have your antivirus software run a scan immediately and take any actions it suggests.

Affinity Fraud

Affinity fraud occurs when a dishonest person plays on someone’s affiliation with a group, such as a religious congregation, an alumni association, a support group, or a social club, as a way to win his or her confidence. The goal is usually selling something, convincing someone to make a fake or inappropriate investment, or tricking a victim into handing over important information. The scammer may be an actual member of the group (even someone the intended victim knows or likes) or just pretend to be.

No matter who the person on the other end of the line is or claims to be, you should always be wary before giving them money or information. If they claim to represent the group and you want to support them, it is often best to do so through official channels like their website to ensure that the money gets to the people you want to help rather than a scammer.

When You Encounter a Scammer

If you are contacted by a scammer, the best thing you can do is simply ignore them—do not answer their calls, delete their emails, and navigate away from a sketchy looking site. You should never give anyone information or send them money until you are sure that they are legitimate. If you’ve been contacted by a scammer, you can also report them to the FTC to help stop them from reaching out to you or others.

If you have sent money to someone you believe is a scammer, it is best to act as soon as possible. Cancel the card, call your bank to report the incident, or reach out to an administrator or help line for the account. If the scammer has your sensitive information, such as your social security number, this site from the FTC will assist you with what to do next.

Scammers are constantly changing and refining their attempts to take your money or information. To learn more about the recent scams that have been reported and to see more tips for keeping yourself safe, you can visit the FTC’s website.

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