The Con Man, the Snake Oil Salesman and the ordinary thief. They’ve been around forever and the one thing they have in common is their attempt to take your hard-earned money. Every year, their methods get a little more sophisticated as they try to commit fraud. However, knowledge is power! There are some things you can do to protect yourself.
1. Never disclose personal information.
This is the adult version of “don’t talk to strangers”. Unless you are completely sure of who you are communicating with (and who is asking for your personal details), don’t tell! Apart from the loss of money, identity theft can have lasting impact on your life.
2. Don't give them your money. Ever.
Unless you know and trust the person requesting funds, don’t send it, don’t give it, and don’t let them know any information (like bank account details) that will give them access to it.
3. If in doubt, check it out.
If you ever receive communication from an organization and you’re not sure if its real, check. Contact the company or organization directly yourself – do not use any links or numbers within the communication in question.
A common scam using this method is called “phishing”. Phishing scams are designed to gain access to your accounts or to get you to send money to the con artist. Confirm with the company directly before you do anything! Especially if you ever receive communication suggesting that:
· Your account has been compromised and new passwords must be entered and a link is provided for you to click.
· You need to pay fees or penalties or face service cut-off or retribution from the company (this tends to be popular with utility companies or government revenue agencies).
· You have won a prize (especially in a contest you don’t remember entering) but must pay tax or a fee up front before collecting the prize.
Scammers will play on your sense of generosity, sympathy, or desire to “not be rude”. Never feel obligated to engage or discuss your personal information with people you don’t trust. You are completely within your rights to say “NO”, hang up the phone, or delete the email or text message. If you have questions about fraud, or believe you have been the victim of a fraud scam, contact your local law enforcement for help.
If something doesn’t feel right or seems “too good to be true”, trust your gut and be safe.