Dealing with scams and identity theft
Scams are on all forms of media and can be very intrusive. Calls from 1-800 numbers, fake ads on websites, and phishy emails can all lure people into sending money to unknown sources that are trying to take your money. Here are some tips to avoid scams and different scams to look out for.
Tips for Dealing with Scams
- On all of your social media accounts, make sure your account is private and only accept requests of people that you know personally.
- Do not include your whole birthday because it can be used to steal your identity. If you really want to put it on your profile, only include the day and month, not the year.
- If you see an ad or receive a message explaining how you can make quick and easy money, it is most likely a scam. The best thing to do is ignore and delete it.
- Anyone on social media that asks for your account or any sensitive information should not be trusted. If they are being particularly intrusive, you always have the opportunity to report them to the social media host.
- Never trust any call that sounds too good to be true, asks for your account information/bank information, is demanding payments, etc.
- If someone is promising a romantic experience and asking for payments, do not believe them. This is a scam and you should report it to the social media platform.
Scams to look out for
There are many good legitimate jobs advertised on Craigslist but be sure to look out for these warning signs of scams when responding to job ads:
Do not send personal information (Social Security number, bank account number, etc.)
Verify information in ad, keep track of who you speak to
Let someone know where you’re going, if you attend in-person interview.
Ads are the easiest way for social media scammers to make their money. They will post ads that look similar to other companies and often offer some type of service. If you click on an ad, it will take you to another page that may have the appearance of a legitimate website.
What is phishing? Phishing is usually a two-part scam involving an email or text message containing links to a fraudulent website requesting sensitive information such as username, password, and account details. Once obtained, your personal and financial information can be used to access your account and steal money.
Phishing emails are becoming harder to tell from real emails. By impersonating a company’s communications, these emails tend to use clever and compelling language, such as an urgent need for you to update your information or communicate with you for your security. To spot a phishing email, look for a combination of red flags. In this example, notice:
- Email address: The email address of the sender does not include the domain name or it does match the 'reply to' email address.
- Urgent call to action: The email includes an urgent request in the subject line and message copy, such as “for your protection and for security reasons.” Phishing emails may also contain extra spacing or unusual punctuation in addition to other red flags.
- Suspicious URL: The email contains a link to a URL, which could be a fraudulent website. If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer, you can check a link’s URL by hovering over it with your cursor, and the URL will show in your browser window.
Phishing texts use similar techniques as phishing emails: a sense of urgency to secure your account or verify your identity, using words like “blocked,” “deactivated”, or “for your protection” to describe your account status. These texts may prompt you to call a phone number, click on a link, or respond directly with personal or account information. To spot a phishing text, look for a combination of red flags. In this example, notice:
- Suspicious sender: The text was sent by an unknown phone number.
- Unusual text treatments: The text message contains a combination of unusual text treatments, including all caps, arrows, ID numbers, and an exclamation point.
- Unprompted request: The request to unlock a block or verify the recipient’s identity was unprompted.
The consequences of Identity Theft can be incredibly traumatic and can leave a long lasting effect on your credit. Thieves can take money from your accounts and open new credit card accounts. Here are some steps of what to do if your identity is stolen and how you can protect yourself from identity theft.
Steps to take if your identity is stolen
Contact Fraud Department of Credit Bureaus
You should request a fraud alert, which will have no effect on your credit score. You can also request a security freeze which will prevent credit issuers from accessing your credit files so that those trying to steal your identity cannot open new credit cards or loans
Reach Out to Banks
Contact any banks that you have created accounts with. You can report your identity theft to them and they will send you replacement cards with new account numbers. If you were issued a checkbook and some of your checks were stolen, you can ask the bank to stop the payment.
Protecting yourself from Identity Theft
Safely navigate the internet
Do not share social security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information online. When you are checking your email, if you see any spam looking emails that are requesting personal information, delete them.
Get rid of financial records
You should destroy any personal financial information that is in paper copy (financial statements, ATM/debit card transaction receipts, etc.)
Protect your social security number
Never carry your social security card unless it is absolutely necessary. Identity thieves can use your social security number to open fake accounts under your name and access your credit. Try to memorize your social security number if you can.
Continuously check your credit report to monitor fraudulent activity. Check annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy from each of the three credit bureaus.
Protect Personal information
Never give out your personal information unless you believe the source is trustworthy.