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Criminals are forever developing new ways to defraud you out of your money, even as you read this. Some of the tricks they use are old. But they often combine those old tricks with new technology. As well as your money, fraudsters want your personal details. Things like your bank and card details, and your PIN numbers and passwords. They will come up with some very devious ways to get what they want. No one is safe from fraudsters. They will target anyone. So, to help you keep one step ahead, here are ten things you can do to avoid fraud.
1. Don’t Be Rushed, Talk to Someone Else First
Con artists don’t want to let you have time to think things through. They want to rush into taking a decision. They will use tactics like “this offer is only available today” or “I can only give you this great price if your order now”. Don’t let anyone rush you into spending money. Take your time, do some research first. If you are unsure about anything, talk to an expert or run it by a trusted friend or family member.
2. Watch Out for Imposters
Fraudsters will often try to gain your confidence by pretending to be someone you know or trust. Some may also try to gain your confidence over time. They may pretend to be a government official or a bank representative. They may try to fool you into thinking that they are a family member. If you receive an unexpected request for money or information from anyone, check it out before you send anything. People making legitimate requests won’t mind you being cautious.
3. Don’t Trust Your Caller ID
Scammers have the technology to spoof caller IDs. Don’t assume that the caller ID is proof of identity. If a caller asks for information or money, hang up. Then, phone that person or organization yourself to confirm that they are legitimate.
4. Be Wary of Free Offers
There’s no such thing as a free lunch! Some untrustworthy suppliers offer free trials on goods and services. But they start charging you for it straight away. Others offer free products, such as home security systems. Then, they hit you with expensive service charges or monitoring services. Don’t agree to anything without reading the small print. And, check your bank statements for any unexpected payments.
5. Hang Up on Robocalls
Robocalls are annoying, and they are illegal. Scammers use robotic calling systems because it’s an easy way of calling many thousands of people a day. Robocalls are often used to sell bogus products. Don’t interact with a robocall at all. Don’t press any buttons on your handset, don’t ask to speak to a person, just hang up. If you interact with a robocall, it will flag your number as a live contact. Your number may then be shared with other scammers and you’ll get lots more calls.
6. Use Credit Cards to Pay for Things
If you wire money to someone using a service like Western Union, there is no fraud protection. Credit cards, however, have built-in fraud protection. If you use a credit card and you are the victim of fraud, you can claim your money back from the credit card company. So, it’s generally safer to buy things using a credit card.
7. Do Your Research Online
If you think something might be a scam, research the company or product or online. If you type into Google the name of the product or company, followed by the word scam, review, or complaints, you will find what other people are saying about it. You can also search for phone numbers to see if other people have flagged them as scam numbers.
8. Don’t Fall for the Fake Check Scam
Be careful about accepting checks from unknown sources. Especially if you are then asked to wire the money back. When you bank a check, the money will be made available in days. But it can take weeks for a bank to identify a fraudulent check. If a bank does decide the check was fraudulent, they will want the money back from you. If you have already spent that money, or wired it back to the sender, you are going to have find that money from somewhere.
9. Don’t Pay Unknown People Money Up Front for Goods or Services
Never pay anyone you don’t know up front for goods or services. Even if it’s only a deposit. There are many scams where people will ask for payment up front. These include offers of employment, mortgage advice, and help with debt. Another common form of these scams is the fake prize winnings scam. You will be told that you have won a prize, but to receive your prize you need to pay an admin fee or taxes. You’ll hand over your money and you’ll never hear for these people gain.
10. Keep Up to Date with New Scams
Staying alert to the dangers of fraud is the best to avoid getting scammed. The Federal Trade Commission provides a free email alert system that will notify you of new scams to watch out for.
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