Avoid Falling for a ScamIt seems you can’t watch or read any news these days without learning about a new phone, email or in-person scam. With technology creeping into every aspect of our lives, it is easier for scammers to target more and more people. While these scams become more of a regular occurrence, it is important to know how to spot and avoid them. Regardless of the type of scam it is, there are five things you can do to avoid being the next victim of these types of crimes.

How to Avoid Falling for a Scam

1. Be skeptical: Any time a stranger randomly contacts you to alert you that you’ve been selected to receive free money or win a prize, it’s best to doubt the legitimacy of the call. Although it’d be nice to trust everyone that tries to offer you money, the reality is that there are terrible people out there who try to take advantage of trusting individuals for their personal gain. That’s why if you ever receive news like this, you should be sure to ask the potential scammer a lot of questions. Try to get as many details as you can and when they start giving you obviously bogus information or not responding to your questions, it’ll be apparent that it’s a scam.

2. Keep calm and rational: When you receive unexpected news, such as someone claiming you won money, it’s important that you control your emotions so you can look at the situation rationally. Scammers purposely tell you things to play on your emotions because they know it will make you less likely to look at the situation rationally, which will allow them to get more information from you.

An example of a scam designed to target the victim’s emotions is a recent IRS phone scam that’s impacting people throughout the country. The scam involves victims receiving a call demanding that they contact the IRS immediately concerning an overdue balance or they would face legal consequences. Some of the victims are even receiving threats claiming they’ll be arrested by U.S. Marshals if they don’t pay the money ASAP. Although this seems like a nightmare, it’s essential that the potential victims take a minute to not react and look for any red flags. With this certain scam, there are two red flags: the IRS only sends alerts for money via traditional mail and the caller claims there is no grace period or specific deadline for the victim to pay the money before serious action is taken — which is rather unlikely. By removing your emotions from the situation, you’re able to see these red flags and take appropriate action, such as reporting the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.

3. Always check the source: Anytime you’re contacted by someone claiming to work for a company or the government, you should make sure you take steps to verify the source. Do not click on any links in an email or call any phone numbers provided by the potential scammers, and instead you should make sure it’s who the person is claiming to be. The best way to do this is to contact the company or organization this person is claiming to represent, and inquire about the issue. Be sure to get the contact information from a trusted source, such as the company’s website or business card. Tell them you received a call or email from someone claiming to work for their company and you wanted to check the authenticity of this call or email. They will be able to verify the legitimacy of the call or email you received.

4. Don’t reveal personal information:  Whenever someone is contacting you and demanding your personal information, you should make sure you don’t provide them with anything – even if it’s just your full name. Instead, it’s best if you simply hang up the phone and verify the caller, as described above.

5. Never send money to receive money: This is one of the oldest scams in the book. Someone contacts you via email or phone and tells you to send them a certain amount of money in order to receive a larger sum of money. Then once you’ve sent the sum of money, you never hear back from this person again and find yourself out hundreds or thousands of dollars. To protect yourself from this scam, remember that no reputable company or organization requires you to send any dollar amount in order to receive a larger amount, so if you’re being asked to do this, chances are you’re probably being scammed.

Even though all of these steps can help you avoid falling victim to a scam, the most important thing to remember is if something seems too good to be true than it probably is. Visit our identity theft protection blog to learn more ways to protect your personal information every day.