August 5th through the 11th is National Fraud Awareness Week! Fraud affects around 11% of U.S. adults every year. Last year there were 744 cases of Identity Theft in the state of Maine. In order to help our members not fall victim to fraud, we have important do’s and don’ts when it comes to popular scams.
Telephone scams include phone calls, robocalls, and text messages aimed at stealing your personal information or convincing you to send money.
- Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry
- Hang up on phone calls that are suspicious
- Be cautious of spoofing – the process of scammers manipulating the caller ID to be someone else
- Say “yes.” Scammers will attempt to record you saying yes as proof that you agreed to a purchase
- Provide your personal information such as credit card number, social security number, or credit union account information
- Send money, especially if told to wire money or purchase prepaid cards. Research any travel package or business opportunity that is offered to you over the phone before taking action
Phishing scams are often emails asking you to verify personal information such as your logins and passwords or debit/credit card numbers.
- Check the web address to verify your email is from a credible source; fake emails will be off by as little as one character
- Forward all phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication to add another level of security in the event that your login credentials were stolen
- Click on any links to verify your account information
- Respond to emails with your personal information
- Use an easily guessed security question such as “where did you go to high school/college?” or “when is your anniversary?” in which scammers can easily research and find that information online
Prize scams are scams trying to gain your personal information or money by saying that you’ve won a fake prize or by tempting you to give up your personal information to enter a contest.
- Check the postage on your prize notice. If it was sent bulk rate, then chances are it is a scam
- Notify a Postal Inspector if you have received the prize scam in the mail
- Research the organization that has sent you prize or contest information. Contact the organization to verify if the prize or contest is legitimate
- Pay a fee or give out account information to receive your prize
- Give out your personal information for a contest or sweepstakes
- Attend a sales meeting to earn your prize
Identity Theft Scams
Identity theft happens when a scammer has stolen your personal information and pretends to be you to apply for credit or make purchases.
- Shred credit offers, account statements, expired credit cards, and anything else with your personal information
- Change your password if the company has had a breach of their database
- Review your credit report once a year
- Keep your Social Security card in your wallet. Only give out your Social Security number when necessary
- Forget your mail. Collect your mail every day and place a hold on your mail if you are away for several days.
- Reply to or click any links to anything that you feel is suspicious
Scammers may contact you via phone, email, or mail you pretending to be the IRS claiming you owe taxes or asking you to verify your personal information.
- Verify the number of the letter, form, or notice by going to the IRS website
- Know that the IRS will contact you by mail instead of calling about unpaid taxes
- Understand that the IRS will not threaten to have the police arrest you
- Trust the caller ID. Scammers often using spoofing to manipulate the caller ID you see
- Click on any links claiming to be from the IRS in an email or text message
- Pay money immediately. Do your research to make sure that it is actually the IRS contacting you