By: Jennifer Ornelas
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The most typical scams may trick you by sending you phony emails, texts, voicemails, or even by having someone unexpectedly knock on your door. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, an increase of more than 70 percent over the previous year” (FTC, 2022). Here are some steps you can immediately take to tighten your security and better guard against fraud and identity theft.
Start with simple, tiny adjustments! Don't use the same password for all your bank accounts. Use strong passwords, sign up for text or email notifications from your bank, and send money only to people you know and trust. Be wary of unknown callers. Truecaller Insights states that “1 in 3 Americans (31%) report having ever fallen victim to phone scams, and 19% on more than one occasion” (Truecaller, 2021). If you aren't sure who is on the other end of the phone, never give out your private information.
Phishing via text message, commonly known as "smishing," occurs when con artists utilize false text messages to entice victims into divulging their personal or financial information. Bank customer Martin Hernandez says, “I’ve received text messages from my bank stating a temporary hold has been placed on my account due to unusual activity. Along with a link to verify my identity. A quick transaction history check on my bank’s app will show no fraud charges have been made.” For example, your bank may text you to confirm a transaction. However, a bank will never ask you for private information such as your account number, social security number, or password via text. Avoid clicking links and dialing any numbers in the text if you have any doubts. According to Jose Luis, a customer relations clerk at Arrive Logistics and former client service representative at a large national bank, “As technology advances, (there are) fewer bank robberies but more bank frauds are using digital tools. The best way to avoid any kind of fraud is to use unique passwords, use 2-step verifications, and simply be careful with any strange emails/calls/texts you may receive. Remember, the IRS and financial institutions will never ask for your bank accounts over the phone. If any person is asking for gift cards or bank accounts that is immediately a red flag”.
Everyone wants to believe they could recognize fraud. No matter how clever you think you are, scams and fraud can still impact anyone. So you think you can spot a scam?
What techniques do scammers use to manipulate victims?
Pretending to be in a position of authority
Setting urgent deadlines
Promising financial awards
All of the above
If you said all of the above then you would be correct. Many scammers will pretend to be in a position of authority and pressure you with false time constraints. They might also promise a financial incentive, which usually sounds too good to be true.