How to spot an imposter scam
3 things you can do to help avoid the deception
Imposter scams use a variety of tricks to gain your trust and steal your money, but they often start with a simple call, email, or message impersonating a person or company you know to trick you into giving them your money.Here are a few common scenarios to look out for and what you can do to help avoid them:
“I received a message from a ‘family member’ asking me for money ASAP…”
Scammers may hack social media accounts to impersonate a relative in need.
How to avoid: Before sending any money, always call your relative to confirm their actual situation.
“Someone from ‘Wells Fargo,’ who already knew some of my personal information, asked for my access code…”
Scammers can spoof their caller ID number and use bits of your personal information to convince you to reveal your access code and steal your money.
How to avoid: Don’t ever share your temporary access codes or PIN with anyone who calls you unexpectedly. Your bank or the government will never ask you for this information.
“I got a call from an online company about a ‘refund’ for something I don’t remember…”
Scammers often impersonate well-known retail and tech support companies to gain access to your personal device or bank account.
How to avoid: Never give control of your device to a stranger. Never send money to anyone claiming to be from companies asking for payment or offering a refund for something you didn’t order.
You see a post about making easy money. Scammers ask for your debit card and PIN or mobile banking username and password to deposit a fake check into your account.
They may ask you to report your card lost or stolen or that your credentials have been compromised in order to seek reimbursement from the bank. In exchange, scammers may promise you a portion of the funds you deposit.
Tip: Knowingly depositing bad checks is illegal and can result in fines and criminal charges.
Lottery or Sweepstakes
You receive a phone call, email, or letter stating you have won a lottery or sweepstakes. Scammers require you to pay a fee to receive the prize to avoid taxes or additional fees, or may even threaten to report you to the IRS or police if you don’t make the requested payment.
Tip: Legitimate lotteries pay taxes directly to the government rather than being reimbursed from winners’ proceeds. It is also against U.S. law to play a foreign lottery.
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