How To Spot and Avoid Common Scams
keeping-my-information-safe | Read Time: 3 minutes
By Phil DiAngelo | Published: October 2021
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which serves as a great opportunity to brush up on common scams and how to protect yourself.
Scammers work around the clock to find new ways to defraud innocent consumers, and thousands fall victim to scams each day.
With the right knowledge and a bit of vigilance, you can help protect yourself and your personal information. Here are a few common scams to beware of and tips on how to avoid them.
Gift Card Scams
Gift card scams are common, and many consumers fall victim to them. You may receive a call, text or email from someone asking for payment via gift card. This could come from a scammer pretending to be a family member, friend, business or even the government.
Before you purchase anything, stop and look closer at the request.
A legitimate business or government agency will never ask you to pay for goods or services through gift cards. A scammer may even tell you that you’ve won a prize but need to cover the fees by purchasing a gift card and providing them with the numbers from the card.
While you may give a family member a gift card for a special occasion, it is unlikely they would request one out of the blue. Pick up the phone and call the family member on a phone number you’re sure is theirs to verify the request is legitimate.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a gift card scam, contact the company that issued the gift card to report the fraud.
The job market is hot, and with most job applications taking place online these days, it is vital to do your proper research to avoid employment scams. Job applications are filled with personal information that scammers want.
Before applying to any employer, ensure you’ve done the right research. If you found the open position on social media or a job board, verify the position really exists by checking the official company website for the posting and applying through there instead.
If you’re still unsure the listing is real, contact the company via the methods provided on their website to confirm before clicking “submit.”
Phishing scams continue to rise in the digital and mobile age. Scammers may contact you via email, text message, phone call or online asking you to provide your personal information or click a link that will install viruses and malware on your device, giving the scammer access.
If you’ve received an email you were not expecting that asks you to click a link or reply with personal information, pause and take the time to evaluate the message. Verify the email address sending the message is legitimate. Scammers often impersonate a real email address by misspelling the sender’s name or website slightly.
If you think you’re the victim of a scam, it is important to contact your banks and credit card companies immediately to freeze your accounts and also place a fraud alert on your credit reports with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You should also contact the police and Federal Trade Commission to report the fraud and change any passwords for online accounts in the event they have been compromised.
As digital adoption continues to increase, scams are likely to follow. While this can be scary, by taking proper precautions, you can help keep yourself, your personal and financial information secure.
For more tips on how to prevent fraud, visit the WSFS Knowledge Center. You can also take interactive quizzes, view helpful videos and more at the American Bankers Association’s Banks Never Ask That website.
About the Author – Phil DiAngelo
Phil DiAngelo is Vice President, Director of Operational Risk at WSFS Bank. He has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry and is responsible for all aspects of operational risk, business continuity, disaster recovery, information security and electronic fraud monitoring.
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