Tips to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scam

avoid becoming the victim of a scamThere are always unscrupulous people that are trying to take advantage of others for their own personal gain.  The specific schemes or the tools used may change, but the intent is the same.  Scammers want to take your money away from you and keep it for themselves.  This is a sad fact of life.  While we may not want to think about scammers and the scams they perpetrate, it is important to stay vigilant and on-guard against these schemes.  Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of a scam.

Guard Your Personal Information

Your personal information is so important.  If scammers are able to get pieces of information like your social security number and your birthday, they can open accounts in your name.  Or if they find out your credit card number or bank account number, they can drain your accounts or make purchases with your money.  Make sure you keep information private and don’t give scammers the chance to get information from your computer screen, your mail, or your trash.

Use Caution in Online or Phone Interactions

Sometimes your mouth or your fingers can be your worst enemy.  It’s easy to forget when we are interacting online or over the phone that the person on the other end may be looking to run a scam on us.  Beware of any interactions with people you don’t know or interactions that might be viewed or heard by others that you may not necessarily know.

Never Click on an Unknown Link

People often get in trouble by clicking a dangerous link.  Scammers will often create a situation that is either appealing or alarming.  Common scams include an invoice, a payment, an update to computer software, or a message from a contact.  Clicking these kinds of dangerous links will usually download malware onto your computer.  This can enable scammers to get sensitive information from your computer or even lock your computer until a ransom is paid.  If you are unsure about a link, err on the side of caution and don’t click.

Be Wise When Making Transactions

Making transactions online can be especially harmful.  You should take time to verify the identity of online merchants and make sure that transactions are secure before making a purchase.  Don’t use apps like Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App to pay vendors you have not verified.  Unlike credit cards, ‘cash apps’ usually don’t offer any recourse in the case of fraudulent activity – it’s treated as if you used cash in the transaction.  Even though credit cards offer more online security, always take care and be wise when purchasing online.

Cultivate a Healthy Skepticism

Nobody wants to be a cynic, but having a little bit of skepticism can be a good thing.  Don’t just believe everything you read or hear; make sure you check things out from a reliable source before you act.  Usually if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Don’t Share Too Much

Social media has changed the way we interact with others online.  Often we are tempted to share much more than we would have in the past.  However, this can open us up to the schemes of scammers.  Sharing about big purchases or time away from home might encourage old-fashioned crimes like burglary or theft.  In many cases, it’s just better to keep some information to yourself.

Know Your Own Weaknesses

Finally, as you look at this list, you may recognize areas where you are weaker than others.  As you see these things, take action to put limits or safeguards on yourself or ask a friend to help you protect yourself.  If there are areas of weakness, it is better to shore up the defenses before you find yourself a victim of a scam.

Unfortunately, scams are lurking everywhere these days.  You have to learn how to protect yourself.  Federated Bank is also diligent to protect your personal information and to provide tools and services that help you avoid becoming the victim of a scam.  Please visit our website to read more about the advice and protections we offer, including fraud alerts and card valet.

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