According to data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, which was an increase of more than 70% as compared to the previous year. Read on to learn how to spot common financial and identity scams, as well as ways to protect your accounts and personal information.
Imposter and Government Scams
Imposters are dishonest people who want to steal your money and/or trick you to get your personal information to commit identity theft. What are imposter scams? Imposters scams might look and sound like:
• A call or email from a tech support company about a problem or virus on your computer that they can fix.
• A call from the IRS or another government agency saying you must pay off a debt or something bad will happen.
• A call or email from a hospitality or other company saying you won a prize but you have to pay to receive it.
• A call or email saying a friend or loved one is in trouble and needs your help.
Fake Check Scams
Fake check scams are when a person unfamiliar to you sends or offers to send you a check and asks you to send a portion of the amount back to them or another person. They may say you have won the money in a contest or you are being paid for services you did not provide. The checks offered may look like a business or personal check, a cashier’s check, a money order, or an electronic check. Banks are required to make deposited funds available to you within a certain number of days. But beware – this is a form of bank fraud and just because the check has cleared does not mean it is legitimate. It can take time for a financial institution to discover that the check was fraudulent. Contact us right away if you think you have deposited a fraudulent check into your account.
Money Mule Scams
Money mule scams are a common banking scam and are similar to the fake check scheme in that someone offers to send you money but then asks you to send it to someone else. They might be trying to get you to be a money mule for them – someone who unknowingly transfers or launders stolen money. Scammers in money mule schemes will often ask you to buy gift cards or wire money. They might try to reach out to you through an online job posting, on social media, or a dating website.
Online Dating Scams
Online dating scams are when someone uses a dating app or website to make contact with you, for the sole purpose of asking you for money. They may appear interested in you, but then tell you they need money for medical bills, for their travel expenses to come to see you, or for some other suspicious reason. Never send or transfer money to an online love interest and let us know as soon as possible if you think you’ve sent money to a scammer.
Job or Income Scams
Job or income scams are when you are offered a job or opportunity to make a large amount of money with little effort. Scammers will often ask you to recruit new employees to make money or ask you to pay a start-up fee or purchase products or gift cards. Make sure to do your research and be skeptical of offers that seem too good to be true.
What is phishing? Any attempt to steal personal information or to break into your online accounts – whether by using deceptive emails, messages, ads, or sites that look similar to sites you already use – is phishing. For example, a phishing email might look like it’s from your insurance company and request private information about your account.
Phishing emails are designed to look like they’re coming from a company you recognize and do business with. They may look like they’re from your bank, credit union, or your credit card company. Phishing emails will try to trick you into clicking a link or opening a harmful attachment. If you receive an email that you think is a phishing scam, report it as fraudulent by forwarding it to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com and then block the sender.
Another technique that scammers are using to defraud people is to offer free COVID-19 services such as contact tracing or free test kits and asking for personal and financial information. This information can then be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and to commit medical identity theft. If you think you have been a victim of attempted health care fraud, you can report it to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).
How to Protect Yourself from Fraud and Bank Scams
1) Protect your password
• Change your password regularly.
• Don’t give out your password to anyone. (Know that Infinity would never request your password information in an email, text, or over the phone).
• Do not use the same password you have set for Infinity’s Digital Banking for any other account.
• Lock your mobile devices with passwords or pins. Your password or pin should be long and not easy to guess.
Check out this video from the Maine Credit Union League: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_7jxIkVf1E
2) Report and Block Suspicious Emails
• Be wary of any email that asks you to confirm or share personal information.
• Never click on a link or open an attachment from an unknown sender. Be aware that scammers will replicate emails that look like they are from a familiar account, so if you are not sure, take a minute to hover over the link or the “from” email address to see where it’s really coming from or directing you to. You can also verify an email’s authenticity by calling the institution’s official phone number.
3) Be Wary of Phone Scams
• Verify calls from numbers you don’t recognize and be highly suspicious of any requests to verify personal information or to send money.
• Infinity will never call you and ask you to verify your personal information or a banking code. We will only ask you to verify your personal information if you initiate a call to us or in response to your specific request.
4) Keep Your Data Secure Online
• Public Wi-Fi is not a secure network! Do not use public Wi-Fi to log in to Digital Banking or to make online purchases.
• Wait until you are on a secure network (password protected) to use Digital Banking, log in to personal accounts, or when shopping online.
If you are concerned that you may have been a victim of financial fraud or think your Infinity account may have been compromised, please reach out to our Member Engagement Contact Unit at 207-854-6000 or via our contact form.