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Tips on Protecting Yourself from Frauds and Scams

February 27, 2024

Millions fall prey to fraud and scams each year, typically initiated through deceptive emails, text messages, or phone calls posing as reputable entities. Scammers frequently prompt recipients to verify or update personal details, inform them of purported changes to their accepted payment methods, and provide new instructions.

Tips to Avoid Frauds and Scams

  • Confirm an email is legitimate by contacting the sender by a known phone number of record, not by replying to the email. This is particularly important if the email is from a vendor and contains a change to payment instructions.
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers encouraging you to act fast or insist on secrecy.
  • Exercise caution when encountering email or text messages prompting you to click on a link, as they may be scams. These fraudulent links could install malware, compromising your computer’s security and granting unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  • Remain vigilant regarding email or phone requests asking for updates or verification of personal or banking information. Legitimate organizations, such as your bank or the IRS, typically only seek such information through secure channels for already possessed data.
  • Assume any offer that seems too good to be true is probably a fraud or a scam.
  • Stay alert for fraudulent checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or electronic fund transfers that require you to wire back a portion of the money. Such requests are common indicators of fraudulent activity.
  • Review your security settings on social networking sites to ensure they block individuals you do not wish to view your page. Scammers can glean extensive personal information about you, including details about your relatives, workplace, residence, or mother’s maiden name.
  • Do not assume an application is legitimate because it resembles the name of your bank or company you are familiar with. Research applications before downloading them to your phone or computer.

How to Report Frauds and Scams

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to fraud or a scam, contact your state, local, and/or federal consumer protection agencies for assistance. State consumer protection agencies can be found on the usa.gov/state-consumer webpage. Federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission also offer support. Consulting with local law enforcement officers for advice and assistance is also recommended. Promptly reporting fraud increases the likelihood of recovering lost assets. The initial agency contacted may directly assist or refer you to another agency better suited to aid you.
People who try to trick you out of your money are committing fraud. This can include not delivering what is sold, misrepresenting items you purchased, or sending counterfeit items.

Steps to Take If You Suspect Fraud

Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ftc.gov to report fraud-related incidents. The FTC logs complaints into Consumer Sentinel, an online database accessible to numerous law enforcement agencies domestically and internationally, covering the internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud cases.

For incidents involving mail or interstate delivery services, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at postalinspectors.uspis.gov. Misrepresentation or theft of funds using postal services is illegal and falls under their jurisdiction.

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