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What are the Financial Scams?
Financial Scams – Identity theft, data breaches, and internet fraud, oh my! Year after year, a horrific wave of fraud sweeps the country, claiming the lives of countless people. Unfortunately, new and improved technology only help fraudsters gain an advantage, making it easier than ever for them to steal financial information from unwary people.
According to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2017 Identity Fraud Study, fraudsters and hackers stole $16 billion from 15.4 million US consumers in 2016. To make matters worse, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, 1,473 data breaches occurred in 2019. Even in these turbulent times, consumers may take steps to protect themselves against financial scams. Here is how!
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1. Never send money to someone you don’t know
You’ve probably received an odd email from a wealthy Nigerian prince whose father/mother/brother died suddenly and left him a vast fortune. The prince requires your assistance to transfer millions of dollars from a US account due to his noble title in a foreign country. He will lavishly reward you with hundreds of thousands of dollars in return! All you have to do now is send him $5,000.
Despite the fact that this is one of the oldest online scams in the book, consumers continue to fall for it or a variation of it. Never send money to strangers, regardless of the circumstances – whether you receive an email from a wealthy traveler who needs your assistance traveling back to the United States or from a long-lost cousin who claims to be in an emergency. It’s quite impossible to reverse or track money once it’s been sent (particularly internationally). Please check separately if you are concerned about your cousin. She’ll most likely be safe at home, and you can inform her that her email account has been compromised.
One of these “Nigerian princes” was captured and charged in December 2017, and he turned out to be a 67-year-old Louisiana guy, much to everyone’s astonishment. This form of con first emerged in the 1980s, causing millions of dollars in losses for Americans.
2. Do not disclose financial information
Never give out personal or financial information to strangers or businesses, whether they approach you via phone, text, or email. Scammers may send you an email or contact you posing as a representative of a retailer, financial institution, or government body. They can claim that your account has been hacked or that it requires updating. These con artists frequently try to dupe you into providing your credit card number, social security number, or other financial information.
Phishing is a widespread type of fraud. Keep in mind that your bank or credit card company would never approach you to request personal information. If you receive a questionable call or email and are concerned about the status of your account, contact your bank or credit card company to inquire.
3. Never click hyperlinks in emails
If you get an email from someone you don’t know or a company that asks you to click a link or open an attachment and then enter your financial information, delete it immediately. It’s almost probably a farming scam, even if the email looks to be from your bank or credit card company. According to the Better Business Bureau, consumers should ignore and delete any emails containing similar requests.
4. Use hard-to-crack passwords
Passwords like “12345” or “P@ssword” are no longer acceptable. Hackers can readily guess passwords made up of common pet names or basic number combinations. Make passwords that are at least eight characters long and include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. For each website you visit, you should update your password.
But how are you going to remember 20 different passwords that all sound like “5Rg6&*eQ$3”? This is where tools like RoboForm or LastPass may help. These programs will help you create strong passwords and gain secure and quick access to them when you need them.
5. Never give out your social security number
Do not provide your social security number if you receive an email or visit a website that requests it. It’s almost certainly a ruse. This information is rarely requested by legitimate firms.
6. Install virus and spyware protection
Install antivirus, firewall, and spyware protection to safeguard important data on your computer. Enable the automatic update feature after installing the software to ensure that it is constantly up to date.
7. Avoid shopping on unfamiliar online stores
When shopping online, only conduct business with companies you are familiar with. If you want to buy something from a vendor you don’t know, conduct some research to ensure the company is legitimate and trustworthy. Consumer evaluations and complaints can be found on the Better Business Bureau’s website or by searching online.
8. Never download software from pop-ups
Be wary of pop-ups that imply your computer is insecure when you’re online. Malware, often known as “malware,” can damage your operating system if you click a link in a pop-up window to conduct a “system scan” or another program.
9. Make sure the websites you visit are safe
10. Only donate to well-known charities
Do your research before whipping out your credit card if you receive a call or email from a charity asking for donations. Scammers create phony charity in order to collect credit card information. On the IRS website, you may look for legitimate charities.
Tips to avoid financial scams – Conclusion
Scams and crimes involving money appear to be lurking around every corner these days, both online and off. (For the most recent ones, see the FTC Scam Alerts.) Have You Been the Victim of a Scam? You can file a complaint with the FTC here.) You can outsmart even the most ingenious scammer and protect yourself from financial ruin by following these ten recommendations.