Fraud Prevention Tips
- Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
- Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
- Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
- Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
- Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit or Vanilla. Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.
- Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
- Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
- Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.
- Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams (Opens in a new Window). Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.
If you spot a scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint (Opens in a new Window). Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring crooks to justice.
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
Free Credit Report Annually
You can get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every twelve months. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com(Opens in a new Window) (Opens in a new Window) to get information on ordering reports by telephone or to order them online. You can space your requests out so you get a report from one of the three bureaus every four months. You'll want to watch for credit that you don't recognize, since that will be a sure sign that someone has used your personal information to obtain credit in your name.
A brochure to view is entitled, "Identify Theft - What to know - What to do."
Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week occurs the fourth week in January. This annual campaign aims to help consumers be more informed about protecting themselves from tax-related identity theft and scams. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone steals a Social Security number and uses it to claim a tax refund or get a job.
The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), part of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), encourages consumers to review the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publication Taxes. Security. Together., and NCCIC Tips on Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft and IRS and NCCIC Caution Users: Prepare for Heightened Phishing Risk This Tax Season (Opens in a new Window) for more information.
As the holidays draw near, many consumers turn to the internet to shop for goods and services. Although online shopping can offer convenience and save time, shoppers should be cautious online and protect personal information against identity theft. Identity thieves steal personal information, such as a credit card, and run up bills in the victim’s name.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) encourages consumers to review the following tips to help reduce the risk of falling prey to identity theft:
- Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft
- Shopping Safely Online
- Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, visit the FTC’s identity theft website to file a report and create a personal recovery plan.