A study by the Federal Trade Commission shows that Americans lost about $1.48 billion last year. This amount signifies an increase of 38% of the money lost in 2017. Scammers steal a lot of money from hardworking Americans. We need to be proactive and take measures that prevent or control our losses. This guide will help you protect yourself and guide you when you are a victim of scammers.
What is a Scam?
A scam is an attempt a person or group undertakes to access your money without permission.
Cyber criminals may steal your information, deceive you into handing over your funds willingly or lure you into revealing your details. They use this information to gain access to your hard-earned cash.
Types of Scam
There are many types of scams. The Common Scams Include the Following:
- Data Breaches. This scam happens when an individual or group access data stored either in your gadgets or by data collection entities like credit reporting agencies. Equifax reported hackers stole their data. They stole addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers of about 143 million consumers.
- Telephone Scams. Scammers use phone calls, text messages, or robocalls to steal personal details or money. Some threaten, deceive, or offer freebies to get you to engage them.
- Banking Scams. This type of scam involves someone trying to gain unauthorized access to your bank account. These scams happen through phishing, unsolicited check fraud, overpayment scams, or automatic withdrawals.
- Ponzi Schemes. These schemes rely on the flow of money from new clients to pay existing clients. They try to keep old clients and lure new ones.
- Investment scams. These scams take advantage of your desire to get high yields. They offer little risk yet promise significant returns.
Recognizing a Scam
Watch Out for These Signs to Avoid Falling Victim to a Scam:
- Unexpected or unsolicited contact from strangers
- Emails from senders you do not recognize who have with addresses with spelling errors or those with numbers only
- Promises that are too good to be true or opportunities with low risks but high returns
- Requests for your PIN, passwords or personal details
- Invitation to take part in random competitions or being told you have won in a contest you did not sign up
- The pressure to make quick decisions
Protecting Yourself from Scams
Take the Following Actions to Safeguard Your Money and Information:
- Protect your accounts with strong, long passwords that you can remember and are difficult to crack
- Do not share any personal details
- Avoid unsolicited or unexpected contact, more so if the perpetrator does not identify themselves well
- Scan your devices and update your virus protection software to keep up with the ever-changing virus definitions
- Back up your information in secured servers to avoid paying ransomware
- Verify the legitimacy of investment companies you deal with by confirming their registration in the FCA register
- Visit secure websites (those with HTTPS before their domain and not just HTTP)
- Avoid advance payments unless you are familiar with the company
What You Need to Do If You Have Fallen Victim to a Scam
Take the Following Actions After a Scam:
- Cease automatic direct payments until you secure your accounts
- Report the incident to the relevant body like SEC or FTC
- Be on the lookout for some fraudsters who promise to get your money back after the first scam
- Check your credit standing or unrecognized applications.
Scammers are increasing in number. Many Americans are falling victim to these individuals and losing significant amounts of money through scams. This information should protect you by decreasing your likelihood of falling victim to a scam.