How to Identify Fraud

Know the types of fraud out there, so you can try to identify them should the need ever arise.


Phishing is the act of trying to gain access to your personal information via the internet; especially with the use of misleading emails. This is one of the primary methods a fraudster will use to compromise your personal information. The emails will cite an invented scenario that require haste and include dire consequences if requests aren’t complied with in a short time period. The scenario will either persuade you to divulge sensitive information, send money to an unknown party or click a link that will initiate viruses that give criminals access to your computer.


Smishing is phishing carried out via text messages. Cell phones and other portable devices are being targeted as primary channels for transmitting viruses and other methods of stealing your personal information. So it is important that you secure your portable devices and exercise the same caution when sending and receiving information.

Pharming/ Web Address Spoofing

Pharming or spoofing is the act of redirecting a legitimate URL to a fake website to gain access to the personal information of a large number of people. If the website layout, content or colors look different than you are used to seeing or there are many spelling and grammatical errors, you may be a victim of pharming. Do not enter your username and password until you can independently confirm that the website is legitimate.


Vishing is phishing carried out over the phone. You may either get a direct phone call from a fraudster falsely representing an organization or individual or you could receive an email, letter or voicemail with a return phone number. To protect yourself, never respond directly to the number presented. Independently contact the organization or individual using the phone number that is publicly listed. Also, it is important to note that, as with most other institutions, WSFS Bank will never ask you to disclose or confirm your password, PIN, or full Social Security Number.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the result of the information gathering carried out via the methods of fraud listed above. With the right pieces of information, fraudsters can impersonate an individual by using their credentials to apply for credit cards and loans, make purchases, access funds, and gain admittance to any resources that the victim has available.

Check Fraud

If a fraudster gets hold of your checks, they could make duplicates or alter them for their benefit. Also, be cautious when depositing the checks of unknown individuals into your account. If a check is made out for more money than you owe, never make any arrangement to deposit a check and send the surplus elsewhere; this is a sure sign of a scam. Unless you have an ongoing business relationship with someone, have your bank verify that a check has been cleared before you send goods or make services available.

Credit/Debit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud may take many forms including identity theft, stolen personal information and a legitimate card holder making illegal claims. See methods of committing credit card fraud listed below:

  • Stolen Cards
  • Account Takeover
  • Application Fraud
  • Card Not Present Transactions
  • Card Skimming Machines
  • Illegitimate Charge-backs

Loan Fraud

This occurs when unknown individuals take out unauthorized loans in your name using false documents and possibly forging your signature. In order to catch this kind of fraud you should check your credit report to ensure that all liabilities are legitimate.

Auctions, Sweepstakes & Lotteries

Fraud perpetrated under the guise of auctions, sweepstakes or lotteries gets the attention of many people because of the large sum of money they hope to collect as winnings. However, see some tips below to help you identify and avoid this kind of fraud:

  • You didn’t enter to win or your email address was drawn at random
  • You’re required to pay in advance or send bank information to receive your winnings
  • Game is registered in another country – games are usually limited to the citizens of the country in which it was registered.
  • Gaming commission is non-existent; Google the name of the gaming commission or get a second opinion.
  • Check received is from an individual and not an organization
  • If you receive blackmail attempts or threats of any kind from someone you believe to be a fraudster, contact the police immediately.

Investment Fraud

Investment fraud is probably one of the hardest to detect on your own. However, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. If ever you’re in doubt seek a second opinion of an established, certified and registered investment professional. Always independently verify the license and registration of an investment company or representative before agreeing to the business proposition. See below some additional tips to help you identify risk factors:

  • Company unknown, little public information or incorporated for a short time
  • No risk with high yield not consistent with market conditions
  • Income based on level, up line or down line
  • Unregistered products being sold by unlicensed or independent individuals
  • Requires signing up or sharing personal information of friends and family
  • Complex strategies that cannot be explained
  • Off-shore opportunities outside US jurisdiction
  • Missing or no documentation

What to Look Out For

  • Missing Mail – If you are accustomed to receiving regular notices by mail, for example, your monthly bills or bank statements, be wary if some are missing or you suddenly stop receiving them altogether. This could be a sign that your mailbox has been compromised.
  • Suspicious Transactions – When reviewing your monthly statements, contact your bank to verify that the payment is legitimate if there are payments to any vendor names you don’t readily recognize. Also, check to ensure paid amounts are correct, canceled or refunded transactions are removed and there are no duplicate transactions.
  • Strange Calls – Be skeptical if you receive phone calls to send money for any reason, to update or verify personal information or notifying you that you won a contest you didn’t enter. Especially if the call quality is poor and you are asked to act with urgency. Before acting, get a second opinion or try to verify the legitimacy of the request independently of the information provided on the phone call.
  • New Credit Cards or Loans You Didn’t Authorize – If you realize that there are credit cards, loans or purchases you didn’t authorize, your identity may have been compromised. Contact the issuing companies directly to notify them of the error and try to identify the source of the security breach. Also, follow our suggestions for ‘If you think you’re a victim’.