Avoid Fraud and Scams

 An unfortunate reality is scammers are everywhere. From phony contractors who take payment for work they never complete, to the charities that turn out to be fake, to the email from a “distant relative” who needs an emergency loan, scammers are looking to separate you from your hard-earned money.

Fraud can happen to anyone; take steps to protect yourself. Do not share your passwords. Do not give out private information to unidentified solicitors. Do not hesitate to pass if an “opportunity” sounds too good to be true. Listen to your gut. Do not be afraid to ask questions or just say “no.”

In a tight housing marking, housing scams also are very common. Even a professional looking ad can be fraudulent. Trust your instincts, and do your homework on rental listing scams.

Look out for your family and friends, too. Some scammers prey on older people, new citizens, or others who may not know about the more sophisticated tricks.

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 Key Terms

Contractor: A licensed individual or company who performs work on a contract basis.  

Data breach: The unauthorized movement or disclosure of sensitive information to a party, usually outside the organization, that is not authorized to have or see the information. Someone who gets the data might use it for identity theft.

Fraud: An illegal act that occurs when people try to trick you out of your personal information and your money.

Identity theft: Using your personal information — such as your name, Social Security number, or credit card number — without your permission.

Imposter scams: An attempt to get you to send money by pretending to be someone you know or trust, like a sheriff; local, state, or federal government employee; a family member; or charity organization.

Mail fraud scam: Letters that look real but contain fake promises. A common warning sign is a letter asking you to send money or personal information now to receive something of value later.

Phishing scam: When someone tries to get you to give them personal information, such as through an email or text message, often by impersonating a business or government agency. This can be thought of as “fishing for confidential information”

Spoofing: When a caller disguises the information shown on your caller ID to appear as though they are calling as a certain person or from a specific location.

Wire or money transfer fraud: Tricking someone into wiring or transferring money to steal from them. One common example of a wire transfer fraud is the “grandparent scam.” This is when a scammer posing as a grandchild or a friend of a grandchild calls to say they are in a foreign country, or in some kind of trouble, and need money wired or sent right away.