Red Flags for Financial Scams
Posted: March 13, 2023
Brian Melter, Chief Experience Officer
Scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to trick people into giving out sensitive information. Last month we covered some of the most popular financial scams we’ve seen lately. This time let’s take a deep dive into warning signs that will help you spot scams no matter what con artists come up with next.
Red Flag 1: Pressure
Is someone pressuring you to act immediately? Scammers often urge people to move quickly so they don’t have time to carefully think through the situation. They might call you on the phone and instruct you not to hang up, so you don’t have time to verify their story. They might even try to frighten you by threatening to sue, arrest, or revoke your driver’s license. It’s okay to stop and do some research before making any decisions. Trust your instincts, slow down, gather more information and consult with people you trust.
Red Flag 2: Pretend
Scammers will use emails, phone calls, text messages and social media messages to pretend to be a person or organization they aren’t. For example, they might pose as your financial institution, law enforcement or a government agency such as the IRS, FBI or Social Security Administration. They can even spoof email addresses, websites, and phone numbers so your Caller ID makes it look official. They might try to worry you that there is a problem to try and convince you to divulge personal information such as your Social Security Number or account numbers. When in doubt, hang up and contact the institution directly to ensure the message or call you’ve received is real.
Another type of imposter scam is when fraudsters pretend to be relatives. They will tell you there is an emergency, and they need you to send money right away. They might beg you not to tell other family members because they are embarrassed. The reality is scammers don’t want you to catch on to their lies. So, take a pause and contact other family members who can confirm the information.
Red Flag 3: Prize
Have you ever daydreamed about what you would do if you won the lottery? Fraudsters prey on people’s excitement by telling them they won a prize, sweepstakes or lottery. They might say you have to pay a fee for taxes or shipping and handling to receive your prize. This is a clear tip-off. If you win a real prize, you won’t have to pay any amount of money upfront.
Another tactic they might use is saying they need your financial information such as a bank account number or credit card number to claim your prize. Don’t fall for it! Ultimately, it’s best to keep in mind the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Red Flag 4: Payment
If someone is asking you to send a payment in an unusual way, be suspicious. Scammers might insist you send a wire transfer through a company like MoneyGram or Western Union, load money on a gift card and read them the code on the back or use cryptocurrency. Another technique they use to send you a check, ask you to deposit it and send the money back to them. The check is fake so it will bounce, and you will be out the money you sent them. You should exercise caution when using digital payment apps like Venmo, PayPal, Cash App and Zelle®. Only send money to people you know and trust.
Remember to “mind your P’s” and ask those “Q’s” when you have questions! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to check that a message or request you’ve received is legitimate. Chat with us online, send us a secure message through Digital Banking or contact us.