Falling for Financial Scams?

Have you ever seen messages like this from your bank?

What about this, on a local ATM?

Source: News 5 Cleveland

Or even something like this, on a Bitcoin machine?

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

The more easily accessible our banks and finances become, the more chances that cybercriminals have to lure us into complex and devastating financial scams.

What are some of the most common financial scams and how you can protect yourself?

This classic scam involves emails or texts that appear to be from legitimate sources like banks, credit card companies, or even government agencies. They often create a sense of urgency, making you panic thinking that you’re being hunted by law enforcement or deeply in debt.

Scammers even go so far as to spoof their phone calls to seem like it’s coming from a legitimate number; you can look up who appears to be calling and find the local sheriff’s department, even if the thief is based on a totally different continent.

Once they have you, they’ll ask you to wire money to their bank account or go to the nearest crypto ATM and send thousands of dollars. No matter how convincing, take a step back; legitimate organizations and the government will NEVER ask you to send money via cryptocurrency, nor any other type of digital payments except through their official online portal.

Scammers might send you a check for more than the agreed amount, asking you to return the difference. Don’t be fooled! The initial check will likely bounce, leaving you out the money you “returned.”

The same scam has evolved in Venmo, where they’ll link a stolen credit card to the account and send you a certain amount of money, then reach out claiming it was a mistake. They ask you to send the money back to their Venmo.

Once the credit card owner disputes the stolen charge, Venmo takes that amount out of your account….but the thief has already run off with the money you sent them.

A form of phishing, voice phishing occurs over the phone. You might be familiar with the nonstop robocalls that you get near election season and tax day; a lot of those are scammers trying to get your personal information.

Aggressive calls claiming you owe money you don’t can be frightening. Don’t give out personal information or agree to pay anything on the spot. Verify the debt with the original creditor directly, and always go through secure portals and legitimate websites.

In our increasingly digital world, financial security is more important than ever. Unfortunately, scammers are constantly coming up with new tricks to steal your hard-earned money.

Here’s how you can stay cyber-safe and keep your finances secure!

  • Be skeptical: If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t click on suspicious links: Links in emails, texts, or social media posts can be gateways to malware or phishing sites.
  • Strong passwords: Use complex, unique passwords for all your accounts and enable two-factor authentication when available.
  • Keep software updated: Out-of-date software can have security vulnerabilities. Regularly update your operating system, browser, and security software.
  • Beware of unsolicited calls and emails: Never give out personal information over the phone or email unless you are absolutely sure of the caller’s or sender’s identity.
  • Verify information: If you’re unsure about a call, email, or message, contact the supposed sender directly through a trusted source (like a phone number you know is correct).
  • Report suspicious activity: Report scams to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (https://www.ftc.gov/) or whomever is the appropriate authority in your region.

By following these tips, you can protect yourself from financial scams and keep your hard-earned money safe. Remember, knowledge is power – the more you know about these scams, the less likely you are to fall victim to them. Stay vigilant and stay safe!

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