Don't be a victim!
One of my roles at Flatwater Bank is to assist customers with fraud. We've seen a lot of scams recently. Below are some common scams we see often.
If you have parents/grandparents, make sure they are aware of these scams as well. As always, if you have questions don't hesitate to call the bank. If something doesn't seem right, it likely isn't.
The examples below are all recent fraud events that have occurred with our customers . In each case, these fraudsters are experts - they invoke fear or excite a sense of urgency in order to get you to release information, access to your computer, or money (via Western Union, MoneyGram, iTunes gift cards, etc).
Publishers Clearing House:
We have had customers who have had scammers call, claiming they have won the sweepstakes - but, to collect the prize, they need to send money to pay for so-called fees and taxes. I've been on the phone with the customers/scammers and it's very believable. Paying to collect a prize is a scam. Every time. Here are some things you need to know:
- Publishers Clearing House will never ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize. In fact, no legit prize promoter will ever charge you to win.
- If anyone calls asking you to pay for a prize, hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Never send money to collect a prize. It's a scam.
IRS or other Government Agents Demanding Money:
This is an example of impostor fraud. Someone claiming to be someone they are not. It's especially prevalent among older Americans because they are more likely to answer the phone and trust an "authority" on the other end. Here is what you need to know about this scam:
- The IRS does not notify people of tax issues by phone until they have sent written communications (usually multiple times). Hang up if you receive a call.
- These agencies DO NOT accept payments via gift cards - period.
- They do not demand you pay without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- They will not make threats such as freezing your accounts, contact local police, etc.
- They do not send unsolicited emails asking for personal information (delete them).
If you are selling something online, via classifieds ads, you might have ran across this one. The scammer will contact you, make you an offer - usually quite generous - then make payment through a credit card or check that is greater than the agreed price.
The scammer will contact you with an apology for the over-payment and ask you to refund the excess amount. They will likely request it through an online banking transfer, money card, or wire transfer. The bad part is that in this scam, the check they write bounces, or is fake (so you are out the money).
Scammers want money and they want it fast. They want to make it easy for themselves to get the money - and nearly impossible for you to get it back.
Here are some warning signs:
- Someone pays more than an agreed upon amount for a good you are selling online.
- You are asked to refund or forward an over-payment amount to a specific bank account or via wire transfer.
- Pressure to "act now".