There are numerous scams presented daily to consumers so you must always exercise caution when it comes to your personal and financial information. The following tips may help prevent you from becoming a fraud victim.
- Be aware of incoming e-mail or text messages that ask you to click on a link because the link may install malware that allows thieves to spy on your computer and gain access to your information.
- Be suspicious of any e-mail or phone requests to update or verify your personal information because a legitimate organization would not solicit updates in an unsecured manner for information it already has.
- Confirm a message is legitimate by contacting the sender (it is best to look up the sender’s contact information yourself instead of using contact information in the message);
- Assume any offer that seems too good to be true, is probably a fraud.
- Be on guard against fraudulent checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or electronic fund transfers sent to you by unknown sources or with requests for you to wire back part of the money.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers that require you to act fast.
- Check your security settings on social network sites. Make sure they block out people who you don’t want to see your page.
- Be leery of any offers that pressure you to send funds quickly by wire transfer or involve another party who insists on secrecy; and
- Beware of Disaster-Related Financial Scams. Con artists take advantage of people after catastrophic events by claiming to be from legitimate charitable organizations when, in fact, they are attempting to steal money or valuable personal information.
COVID-19 Pandemic Specific Scams
Be Alert for Unsolicited Mail, Calls and (Emails or Texts that contain links) related to:
- COVID-19 from untrusted sources that encourage you to open embedded links/files or to provide personal or financial information, such as usernames and passwords or other account credentials.
- Outbreak updates (e.g., “Coronavirus Updates,” “2019-nCov: New confirmed cases in your City,” and “2019-nCov: Coronavirus outbreak in your city (Emergency)”).
- COVID-19 Testing, Home Testing, or Test Results, especially if you have not been tested and Treatments or Vaccines.
- Government relief programs and payments or Pandemic Unemployment assistance programs and payments.
- COVID-19 Donation Requests for Money or Goods. Only donate through reputable charities.
Warning Signs of Fraud or Scams
- You are asked to wire money or send a prepaid money or gift card to a stranger.
- You have won a contest that you have never heard of or entered.
- You are pressured to “act now!”
- You must pay a fee to receive your “prize.”
- Your personal information is requested.
- You are asked to provide your online banking credentials so that your funds can be “mobile deposited” on your behalf.
- A large down payment is requested.
- The company refuses to provide any information in writing.
- You are asked to keep conversations a secret. You are guaranteed to make money.
If you think you are a victim of a fraud or scam, contact your state, local, or federal consumer protection agency.
Also, a local law enforcement officer may be able to provide advice and assistance. By promptly reporting fraud, you improve your chances of recovering what you have lost and you help law enforcement. The agency you contact first may take action directly or refer you to another agency better positioned to protect you.
Violations of federal laws should be reported to the federal agency responsible for enforcement. Consumer complaints are used to document patterns of abuse, allowing the agency to take action against a company.
People who have no intention of delivering what is sold, who misrepresent items, send counterfeit goods or otherwise try to trick you out of your money are committing fraud. If you suspect fraud, there are some additional steps to take.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
- If the fraud involved mail or an interstate delivery service, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/). It is illegal to use the mail to misrepresent or steal money.
FDIC Consumer Protection http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/
Consumer Action: Complaints https://www.usa.gov/consumer-complaints#item-212527
US Department of Homeland Security http://www.us-cert.gov/home-and-business/
Ohio Attorney General https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Individuals-and-Families/Tipster
Protecting Your Business: Start With Security https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/audio-video/business
Federal Communication Commission - Business Cyber-planner: http://www.fcc.gov/cyberplanner
Consumer Information: Identity Theft https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft
Federal Trade Commission: Identity Theft by Mobile Phone https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/identity-theft-mobile-phone
Federal Trade Commission: Tips for Using Public WiFi Networks https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0014-tips-using-public-wi-fi-networks