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How to Avoid Scams

Chances are someone you know has been a victim of fraud (or maybe it’s even happened to you). It could be their identity was stolen, or they clicked on a phishy email link. Scammers are constantly coming up with new, creative ways to trick you. Last year alone, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 2.1 million fraud reports from consumers. Here are a few recommendations to keep you vigilant and arm yourself with these tips to be less likely to fall for a scam. 

Beware of Imposters

Never give your Social Security number to anyone. A good tip to remember is, the Social Security Administration (SSA) or your bank will never call to ask for your Social Security number. Scammers can make any name or number show up on your caller ID, so even if it looks like an official government agency, it could be someone calling from anywhere in the world.

Don’t Send Money to Anyone you Don’t Know

Back in elementary school, we all learned about stranger danger, and those lessons are still pertinent today. Anyone you don’t know who tells you to wire money, send a gift card, or send cash is most likely a scam artist. Never send money or gift cards to someone you have never met in person.

Guard Your Financial Documents

Securely store your financial documents (Social Security cards, birth certificates, account numbers, Medicare cards, etc.) in your home. If you routinely receive statements with personal information in an unsecured mailbox, pick up your mail as soon as possible so no one steals your mail. If you ever decide to throw away financial or identifying documents, shred them first. When someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission that’s called identity theft. They might steal your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers. Even your medical insurance account numbers can be stolen. Armed with your information, scammers can open new credit card accounts or even pay for medical care using your insurance information.

Keep your Online Information Safe

If you’re logging in to an online account, use a strong password. A strong password is usually more than 8 characters in length with a mix of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols, and has nothing to do with your personal life (no birth dates or family names). Add multi-factor authentication for accounts that offer it. Multi-factor authentication is a setting that requires two or more credentials to successfully access your account – like a code that is texted to your phone in addition to your password. Multi-factor authentication makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they steal your username and password.

Don’t Open Strange Emails

When you open an unsolicited email from a stranger then click on a link, you can download malware onto your computer or electronic device. This opens the door for cyberthieves to steal your identity. Delete emails that look unfamiliar without opening them and block the sender.

Block Unsolicited Calls

People with shady intentions don’t care if you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry. To guard against unwanted calls, research call blocking. If they can’t call you, they can’t scam you. See what options your landline service provider offers. For cell phones, check out the different call-blocking apps in your online app store.

Watch Your Social Media Accounts

Review the privacy settings on all social media and online accounts and make sure only friends can see your information. Imposters often get information about their targets from Facebook or other online communities, and can make themselves sound like a friend, family member or romantic interest because they know so much about you. Update and change passwords on a regular basis on all online accounts. And yes, all of the social networks now provide multi-factor authentication to protect your login information! 

At Citizens Bank, ensuring the safety of your information is as important to us as it is to you. If you ever have a question or something doesn’t seem right, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Give us a call or visit your local branch and let us help.

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