Protect yourself from the bad guys.
Unfortunately, we hear about people every week who are being scammed - even in little North Iowa. If you're feeling uneasy or questioning a situation you're in, trust your gut and understand the common red flags that a fraudster is trying to steal your information:
They Contact You Unexpectedly
Most scams start with contact that you weren’t expecting. If someone contacts you out of the blue, whether it be via phone, text message, email, website, or social media, always consider the possibility that it may be a scam.
They Call from a Local Number
Technology makes it very easy for scammers to fake caller ID information. Scammers can even make your phone number appear on an incoming call. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up! If you think the call was legitimate, call the business or the person with the phone number you know is genuine.
They Ask You to Pay Upfront for a Promise
Scammers promise easy money, big bargains, big prizes, or even a relationship, however they ask you to pay fees or taxes up front. As good as the deal may sound, ask yourself – is it too good to be true?
They Ask You to Take Action
Scammers usually ask you to do something that leads you to reveal personal information about you, your bank account, or credit card. Some common examples of what scammers may ask you to do include:
- Paying in advance for a prize or bargain
- Giving remote access to your computer
- Entering sensitive information on a website
- Paying a past due invoice
- Helping a friend/relative in need
They Ask for Various Ways of Payment
Scammers will give you a fake check asking you to deposit the check, keep some of the funds for your trouble and then wire the remaining funds back. Once a wire transfer has been made, your money is gone. When the fake check comes back to the bank for non-payment, you will be responsible for the funds.
Some scammers will demand payment be made to them by purchasing gift cards. Remember, legitimate businesses (computer repair companies, utilities, the IRS, etc.) will never ask you to pay for their services with gift cards.
If You Think You’re Being Scammed – Don’t Panic. Talk to Someone You Trust.
Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Scammers want you to make decisions in a hurry. They may even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story the scammer is telling you, consult your bank, or just talk to a friend.