Watch out for fraud!

March 7, 2018

 

We all need to be on guard against people who want to take advantage of us. Fraud comes in all shapes and sizes. You should be on the lookout for different kinds of fraud. Here are a few places you may be vulnerable:

Health: If you hear about a product that prevents, treats, or cures diseases or other health conditions, find out more. Beware of products that claim to be a “miracle cure.” Advertisements, letters in the mail and phone calls about miracle cures can be deceiving. To learn more about identifying and avoiding health fraud scams visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Cybercrime: If you are investing your money, you may be a target for computer scams, also called cybercrime. Hackers flood investors with phishing attacks—attempts to gather personal information. Do not give any of the following information: your brokerage or banking account information, passwords, Social Security number or additional sensitive information.

If you believe you have been a victim of an internet-related crime, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)  IC3 is the internet-related criminal complaints for federal, state, local, or international law enforcement.

Note: You will still need to contact your credit card company directly to dispute any charges.

Telephone/telemarketing scams: The grandparent scam is a common one. Someone calls you posing as a grandchild or relative in need of money. Or, they may pose as an authority figure, such as a lawyer, judge or IRS auditor. These criminals may scare you by making you think you will be in trouble if you don’t pay them. Don’t let them get away with it.

Remember: The IRS will always contact you by mail before calling you about unpaid taxes.

To help limit the amount of unwanted calls, start with limiting telemarketing calls by getting on the National Do Not Call Registry by calling (888) 382-1222 or visiting the website. If you still receive what appears to be telemarketing calls after registering, there’s a good chance that those calls are really scams.

Be sure to report Report telephone scams to the Federal Trade Commission.

Investment/pension scams: Investment scams come in many different forms but the common thread is a promise of high returns without financial risk. There is no such thing as “guaranteed earnings” or “risk-free” investments. It’s important to research investment opportunities and investment professionals with your state securities regulator and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Data breach: Data breaches may take place when criminals get control of your personal information. Seniors are part of a growing group affected by personal identity theft. “People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of this type of crime,” says the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

Visit www.IdentityTheft.gov to report a credit breach or identity theft.

Here are a few ways to help protect you from identity theft and fraud according to USA.gov:

Don't:
  • Feel pressure to act quickly or obligated to accept an offer. 
  • Give your credit card number, bank account or other personal information when someone calls you.
  • Believe callers who say you have won something.
  • Answer emails if you do not know who they are from.
  • Lend money to friends you have online.
Do:
  • Sign up for annuity direct deposit.
  • Protect your ERS account information just like you would other financial information.
  • Protect your Medicare card. Be careful when and where you share your Medicare number.  Medicare will not call you uninvited to ask for your Medicare number.
  • Verify links sent by a financial institution by first going to the company’s website or calling a representative.
  • Be careful what you share on social media.
  • Research business opportunities, charities, or travel packages. 
  • Get the details in writing and never sign incomplete documents. 
  • Stop your mail and package delivery or have a neighbor pick them up when you go out of town. You can also have the package shipped to your location or held at the store for pick up.
The Financial Fraud Enforcement Taskforce Archive offers overviews of other types of fraud and information on what to do if you are a fraud victim. Visit www.stopfraud.gov/sf/victims-fraud for more information.