How to Avoid Scams

With scammers getting more and more crafty, recognizing common signs of a scam and exercising caution is more prevalent today than ever before.

Phishing, SMishing & Vishing

The top three most common scams occur by phishing, SMishing, or vishing.

Phishing is when scammers pose as a business to trick you into giving them your personal information. Phishing is commonly done by embedding a link in an email. Once the fraud victim clicks on the link, it will open a new webpage that asks for usernames, passwords, and account details

  • Legitimate businesses will NOT ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels
  • Phishing emails are usually disguised very well, however, you can tell if it is a scam if there are typos in the email address, message of the email, or signature line
  • Never open attachments you weren’t expecting
  • Delete suspicious messages, even if you recognize the organization

SMishing is the text message version of phishing. SMishing asks for victims to click on links with urgent messages attached to them, pressuring the victim to click them. Scammers frequently use malicious software in their text message solicitations.

Vishing is phishing by voice, aka phone calls. Scammers can mask their caller ID and make it looks like an organization you know is calling you. If you receive a suspicious call, do not answer it. Rather, wait for it to go to voicemail. Then contact your financial institution directly using the company’s correct contact information to verify it was them.

These are the easiest way for scammers to get ahold of you and get the information they need to scam you.

Signs it’s a scam

1. They use real organization names or make up a name that sounds official. The best way to verify if the company is legit is directly contacting the organization with the correct company information that you can find online.

2. Scammers will create urgent scenarios that need your attention immediately. It could be a positive message saying you’ve won a prize, but you can only claim it in a specific amount of time, or it could be a message saying there is a problem and you need to provide personal information immediately to rectify the situation.

3. Asking for account information. Financial institutions will NOT ask for your account details over the phone or via email. They already have that information securely in their system.

4. Ask you to pay in a specific way. If you are being asked to pay for something over the phone, oftentimes the scammer will ask you to pay by wiring money, using cryptocurrency, or gift cards.

Protect yourself

  • Do not click on links from suspicious senders.
  • Resist acting immediately. Breathe. Then think.
  • Block scam numbers and emails.
  • Keep personal information private.
  • Educate yourself on common scams.

Help protect your community by reporting fraud and scams to the Federal Trade Commission.