Think You’re Immune to Financial Scams? Think Again
By Joseph P. Herbst, Chief Strategic Officer, Affinity Federal Credit Union
Financial scams continue to make headlines – from large-scale threats like last year’s IRS scam to the more prevalent and personal fraud cases, such as identify theft. Thanks to technology, the potential to fall victim to scams is growing exponentially. Yet, one of the biggest challenges isn’t so much that these scams exist or are increasingly difficult to identify and prevent, it’s that so many consumers believe “it’ll never happen to me.”
The first – and most important – thing to know in safeguarding yourself against these financial scams: you aren’t immune.
Consider that 2016 was a banner year for fraudsters, affecting 15.4 million1 victims in the U.S. alone – the highest on record. Just recently, an Affinity employee’s family was affected when a scammer called a relative posing as him. After a rousing and convincing story, money was sent and a case is now open in an attempt to retrieve it. Popularly known as a “grandparents scam,” it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book – and criminals are getting ever-more creative and successful in their approach.
Education is critical. Be aware of the various financial scams, know what to watch for, and understand what steps to take should you be exposed to wrongdoing.
3 Common Types of Financial Scams
- Identity theft: This can happen in several ways, whether it’s someone posing as you and calling family or someone who’s gained access to your accounts and is spending your money. If the latter, swiftly act to regain your identification.
- Charity scams: These scams often always happen during trying times. Fraudsters latch onto a current event (e.g., natural disasters) and posing as a charitable organization providing in an attempt to take your money. If they ask you to make a donation over the phone, decline. Instead, ask for the website where you can learn more about the cause and choose to contribute online.
- Requests for personal information: Oftentimes fraudsters will call posing as a store or even your bank or credit card company, asking you to provide or confirm personal information to complete or update a transaction. Just hang up. If you want to know it’s a legitimate request, call the customer service number on your bill or statement, and ask to clarify the information request.
Always remain vigilant, especially when it comes to your personal information. If you do find yourself on the receiving end of a financial scam, report the incident to local police and call your bank immediately.