Millions of Americans are targeted by scammers every year. More than three million people reported being a victim of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2019.
Scams can be very sophisticated. They work because most people are not familiar with tricks and tools fraudsters use to steal personally identifiable information. Imposter scams are the most common. They involve individuals pretending to be a trusted source in an effort to get money or personal information. This personal information includes Social Security numbers or bank account information. The top scams reported last year were from people pretending to be from the government, a well-known business, or a romantic interest in need of help.
Here are a few examples of common scams:
- IRS scams: Scammers send a notice through email or phone call in an attempt to gain access to your tax or banking information and steal your identity. More often than not, the email or phone call sounds threatening and requests immediate action. Do not reply to any requests for personal information. To verify the legitimacy of any request, contact the IRS directly. Report any suspicious contact to USAGOV.
- Social Security scams: Individuals pose as benefits investigators claiming there is a problem with your Social Security account. They may tell you your number has been suspended and provide a number to call in order to resolve the issue. The number is bogus and any information provided through this channel will end up in the hands of the fraudster. If you receive one of these threatening calls, report the incident directly to the Social Security Administration by visiting OIG, Office of the Inspector General.
- Telephone scams: Scammers will try to steal your money and personal information through phone calls, text messages, or robo calls. You may be offered a free vacation, free services or even cash. In order to claim the “prize” the scammer asks for a credit card number to verify your identity. That number is then used to make purchases on your account. These fraudsters often make threats of jail or lawsuits if a fee isn’t paid. Report these calls to USAGOV.
- Charity scams: Charity scammers take advantage of disasters and tragedies by pretending to be legitimate organizations that collect donations for people in need. Any donation you make to a fraudulent charity ends up with the scammers. We always recommend that you make donations directly to the charities verified website. Learn how to report them to by visiting USAGOV.
- Romance scams: Finding love online can be a double-edged sword if you’re not careful. Be aware that scammers create fake profiles on dating and social media sites in an attempt to steal money. After cultivating a relationship, requests for financial help follow. Once payment is received, the fraudster usually disappears. Understand the signs of these situations and what to do if you’ve been affected by visiting the FTC, Federal Trade Commission.
- Investment scams: Scammers ask you to invest money to earn higher returns without financial risk. Companies then request you to bring more people in to do the same. They often need a constant flow of new people investing in order to make money. Ponzi and pyramid schemes are great examples of investment scams. Contact the Securities and Exchange Commission or your state’s securities regulator for more information.
Pacific Service CU will never request your personal or account information by email, text or phone. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of fraud, please call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878.