5 Things You Can Do To Protect Yourself from Scams

Saturday, August 17, 2019, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

It seems that there is always news about the latest scam and the people who fell victim to it.

From callers posing as the IRS to student loan forgiveness programs gathering a victim’s financial data and then disappearing with it, there are countless scams to worry about it.

Luckily, there are a number of simple ways that you can protect yourself from scams and keep your money and identity safe.

5 Things You Can Do To Protect Yourself from Scams
Image Source: Pixabay

  1. Protect Targeted Information

    One of the best ways to protect yourself from scams is to understand the types of information that scammers target, so you can take steps to protect that information. Information such as your checking account number, Social Security Number, and credit card numbers are frequently targeted, and it’s vital that any records regarding these things be stored safely and disposed of properly to avoid fraud. But this isn’t the only information that scammers are after.

    More businesses and organizations are tracking consumer data today than ever before. Businesses have learned how to use consumer data, such as your age and shopping habits, to create personalized online shopping experiences. This is the same data that many businesses use to target online advertising for increased effectiveness.

    This data can help businesses, but it can potentially jeopardize your privacy, too. Much of this data is gathered online, highlighting how important it is to be aware of what information you’re sharing through websites and social media.

  2. Use Technology Cautiously

    In addition to monitoring the information you’re sharing online, you may need to revisit how you use technology. One of the five most common mistakes that lead to identity theft is surfing the internet on an unprotected web browser. By just accessing websites or downloading documents, you could risk having your identity stolen by online hackers.

    To protect yourself, use a virtual private network (VPN) to surf the internet. Avoid using public Wi-Fi, which is targeted by hotspot hackers who can steal your data when you’re connected to the Wi-Fi. Instead, only access private information, such as when you do your online banking, when you’re at home and on a secure network.

    You should equip both your phone and your computer with quality antivirus software, since viruses can jeopardize the information stored on your computer, potentially allowing hackers to access your personal documents. Scammers may also try to gain access to your computer through emails that contain viruses, so never open or click links in suspicious emails.

  3. Never Provide Information Over the Phone

    Phone scams can be some of the easiest to fall for. If you receive a call out of the blue from Verizon, xFinity, or even the IRS, it will easily catch you off-guard and you may be tempted to do whatever the caller requests to solve the problem they claim exists. But these calls are clever scams that allow the scammers to capture personal information, a fee for their support, or to even gain remote access to your computer.

    If you ever receive an unsolicited phone call, act with caution to protect yourself. Don’t give the caller any personal information over the phone, including your account ID or password, Social Security Number, credit card number, or other account details. Never transfer funds to the caller and don’t allow the caller to remotely access your computer. If you have a true concern about an existing account, hang up, look up your service provider’s number, and call the customer service department so that you know you’re speaking with someone who truly works for the company.

    These calls can be convincing, and some scammers may even change the caller ID display to reflect the company that they’re supposedly calling from. While the phone calls can be alarming, stay calm. The best way to stay safe is to never take any action on these calls and, instead, contact the company directly yourself.

  4. Take Your Time and Do Your Research

    Many scams use the technique of pressuring victims to quickly take action, relying on the fact that this emotional pressure causes victims to overlook warning signs and make decisions they wouldn’t usually make. Some student loan scams use this technique. Callers may warn you that your eligibility for a student loan forgiveness program is about to run out and that you need to sign up right away to take advantage of the program.

    If you ever receive an offer that feels just a little strange, take the time to do your research. Often, even minimal research can reveal the truth about an offer being a scam. Taking the time to Google the program’s name, the caller’s phone number, or just to research known scams in general may save you from an expensive mistake.

    Never let anyone pressure you into making an immediate financial decision. Any caller who tells you that you must make such a decision while on the phone at that moment is more than likely trying to take advantage of you.

  5. Be Proactive

    To protect yourself from scams, be proactive. Familiarize yourself with the common mistakes people make in protecting their identity, like sharing your Social Security Number over the phone or failing to carefully monitor your credit cards and checking accounts for transactions that you didn’t make.

Familiarizing yourself with current scams, protecting your checking account and your personal information, and using caution when making financial transactions can help you to protect yourself from ever falling victim to scams.

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