How To Protect Against Being Scammed

We were reading an article on MarketWatch titled “Phishing emails, texts and calls—scamming is getting worse, so stay up on the latest cons.” *

The article discusses scammers, and it really hit home. In fact, we were so moved by the article that we want to help others avoid being scammed. The worst thing is trying to secure your retirement and lose it all to someone that scams you.

Unfortunately, scammers are ramping up their efforts, and we don’t want you to be another victim.

Since scammers are becoming so prevalent, we want to walk you through a quick summary of the article and how you can begin protecting yourself.

Quick Overview of MarketWatch’s Article

In the article, the author discusses a woman that fell for a scam that started with a phone call. The woman received a call about her PayPal account being compromised. Of course, the woman is very concerned, and believing that she’s speaking to PayPal, she follows their directions.

To solidify the scam, the scammer took $500 out of the woman’s account to continue through the fraud.

Unfortunately, the directions involve her moving money from her bank account into another account.

You can read the entire story on MarketWatch, but we want to discuss how you could avoid a similar scam from happening to you.

How the Scammer Gained Control of the Situation

First, the scammer calls the woman and frightens her with the idea that she’s been a victim of a scam. Then, trusting the person on the phone, she gives the person access to her computer to fix the issue remotely.

The scammer spent two and a half hours on the woman’s computer, so a lot of damage was done.

Within these two hours, the scammer was able to gain access to the woman’s:

  • Bank account
  • Social security number
  • Passwords

Plus, these scammers work in teams, so when the woman asked to speak to a manager, there was one to talk to available. The woman is also told to install an app on her phone, which results in more money being taken from her account.

The woman realized that the scam was very real when the person on the phone asked her to go to Walmart to purchase a gift card.

Sadly, the woman felt very violated and even stupid for falling victim to the scam. However, a lot of people fall victim to scammers every day because they seem so authentic.

We’ve experienced a lot of scammers on our end, too.

Our Experience With Scammers

Scammers often contact us from the “IRS” stating that we didn’t submit a document, and they need to verify this information immediately. Of course, the documents must be uploaded within 24 hours.

The document in question is your social security information.

As a rule of thumb, the IRS will never, ever call you. So if you receive a call from the IRS, hang up because it’s not them.

Scammers are also trying to impersonate Amazon. The scammer will text you a tracking number of a package from Amazon, and when you click on the link, it will direct you to a fake page trying to steal your credentials.

How Prevalent These Types of Scams Are 

If you’re thinking that very few people are being scammed, you’re wrong. We want to share a few statistics with you on just how often scammers are upending people’s lives.

  • The FTC states they’ve received 2,1 million fraud reports in 2020, up 24% from 2019
  • Losses due to scams totaled $3.3 billion in 2020
  • 67,000 tax-related scams occurred in the first half of 2021
  • The FBI states that there was a 69% increase in cyber crimes between 2019 and 2020

Why Scams are Growing

The number of scams is growing due to the unique position people are in because of the pandemic. In addition, a large segment of the population was forced to adopt technology at-home, opening the doors to scammers.

Sadly, people 70 and 80 years old are the primary victims of these crimes.

Due to people being ashamed, only 25% of victims will report being scammed. Today, we’re going to help you avoid being scammed from the start so that you don’t have to become a victim or feel ashamed or “stupid.”

How to Avoid Being Scammed

  1. Never click on an email link or a link in a text unless you’re expecting it. Slow down and never click on the link unless you know the person and are waiting for them to send you something. We take this a step further and verify the person’s email address before opening any links.
  2. Before responding to an email from a company, go to the business’ website and access your account, or call the company yourself. For example, the woman in the example above, should have contacted PayPal to verify that something was fishy with her account.
  3. If you get a call asking for financial information, stop and wait a minute. Scammers want to frighten you. Stop. Hang up and do your own research. Of course, you can always call the electric company, bank or whoever the person is trying to impersonate to verify these claims.
  4. Sign up for fraud alerts on your credit cards. Lenders will monitor credit card accounts and alert you if something is wrong. Sign up for these alerts because they can bring you a lot of peace of mind.

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed

  1. Immediately close or put holds on bank or retail accounts.
  2. Notify all three credit bureaus of the scam. They’ll have best practices for you to follow, too.
  3. Change all of your passwords for your email, bank, credit card and others.
  4. Remain vigilant. Scammers will continue trying to attack you if you were a victim in the past.
  5. Contact the authorities. You can call the police and the FBI to report the incident.

Whether you lose $1 or $100,000, it’s never a good feeling. But, if you follow the advice above, you’ll be better prepared to fight off scams.

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