The world is full of opportunity, but unfortunately, it’s also full of scammers that are always on the lookout for any vulnerability to exploit. Financial deceits and clever schemes tend to flare up even more during tough economic times because people are more desperate for opportunities to increase their cash flow.
Not only are these scammers annoyingly persistent, but when you’re hanging on to hope, they can be incredibly convincing and cause devastating repercussions for anyone who falls victim.
COMMON SCAM #1: PHISHING TEXTS + EMAILS
You receive an email seemingly from SunWest that claims a deposit of $700 is pending on your account. All you have to do is log in at the link provided and confirm your banking information. You’re about to be up $700, right? Wrong! This is an example of a phishing scam where a fraudster sends an email or text pretending to be from a trusted source in the hopes that you’ll click the link and hand over your personal information.
How about spear phishing vs phishing? The difference is subtle, but it’s important to be aware of. Phishing messages typically appear to come from well-known companies. In spear phishing attacks, however, scammers pretend to be from someone in your own company, typically an employee of higher authority.
- First off, and most importantly, don't even think about giving out your bank info!
- Hover your cursor over suspicious links to reveal their actual destination, but do not click them.
- Always double check the sender's info - you can even contact the company directly from their site or app for verification.
- Incorrect grammar and strange email addresses are major red flags as well.
COMMON SCAM #2: INVESTMENT SCHEMES
A clever crypto comrade promises you astronomical returns on your investment. “It’s lucrative, not ludicrous,” they say, and you will totally be flush with cash after just a small upfront contribution. Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes also fall into this category of fraud where the system is all about recruiting investors for investments that ultimately will never work out in their favor, and will most likely bleed them dry.
- When it comes to making money, the old adage “too good to be true” almost always proves itself to be true.
- Even if it’s your best bud, your brother, or your mother, don’t trust them blindly.
- Research any investment thoroughly - consult experts, verify the company is legit and look into their business practices.
- Be skeptical of anyone promising guaranteed high returns and pushing for a quick decision.
COMMON SCAM #3: ROMANCE SCAMS
Have you ever heard the phrase, “I just love a man in uniform.”? Yeaaaaah, so has every scammer out there, and social media and dating apps are abundant in imposter Marines requesting your correspondence. They hook you in with proclamations of love, and then the axe falls with requests for money so they can come home (to you, of course), or to help their family member in another country, or one of many lies to steal your money.
And yes, romance scams also sweep men off their financial feet. Fraud isn’t a gendered epidemic. It’s incredibly inclusive. Romance scams are one of the most common and compelling scams because they feed off our need for human connection and ultimate desire to love and be loved. Sadly, it’s your bank account and their’s having the real love affair.
- Don't be tricked by sweet nothings whispered through a keyboard. Scammers will say anything to get you swept up in a whirlwind romance that’ll only leave you in the dust.
- Try to confirm identity by researching photos and names to see if they come up elsewhere.
- A major red flag is if they try to isolate you from friends and family or insist that you don’t discuss your relationship with anyone else.
- Never send money to someone you haven't met in person, no matter how compelling their story.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER ONE OF THESE COMMON SCAMS
1. Don't Panic: Take a deep breath. Scammers thrive on fear and confusion, and they’re banking on you being so flustered that you don’t take the time to think critically.
2. Cut Off Communication: If it's an email, don't reply. If it's a phone call, hang up. If it's in person, walk away.
3. Report It: Inform your financial institution, local authorities, and/or relevant consumer protection agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
4. Protect Your Accounts: If you've shared sensitive information, change your passwords and contact your credit union/bank or credit card company immediately.
5. Educate Yourself: The more you know, the safer you are. Stay informed about the latest scams and share your knowledge with friends and family.
Staying vigilant against financial fraud and scams is a necessity if you want your money to stay in your account rather than donated to the thieves of the world. It’s noble to want to help others and be generous, but don't let scammers outwit you! Fraud is a billion dollar industry that keeps increasing. Stay safe, stay savvy, and you’ll keep those scammers scratching their heads in frustration. The best way to fight back is with a little bit of alertness and a whole lot of skepticism.
Share this blog with your friends and family today to help fight financial fraud!
September 29, 2023
Published by SunWest Credit Union
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