The holidays are a busy time filled with tasks to be completed, people to visit, and goodwill to share but there are bad actors who use the holidays to take advantage of people’s generous spirits. That’s why it is important to be on the alert for scams.
How do you identify a scammer?
Recognizing the signs of a scam can help you avoid falling victim to one. Scammers resort to many means to contact you. They use telephone calls, email, text messages, social media, and U.S. mail. Scammers may:
- Pretend to be from an agency or organization you know to gain your trust;
- Say there is a problem with your Social Security number or other type account;
- Pressure you to act immediately;
- Tell you to pay in a specific way (ex. retail gift cards, pre-paid debit cards);
- Frighten you or threaten you with a consequence;
- Trick you into clicking onto malicious links or attachments.
How can you protect yourself if you receive a suspicious call, text, or email?
- Filter your calls and don’t answer or return calls if you don’t recognize the caller. If you do answer and are suspicious, hang up the phone.;
- Only open emails, respond to text messages, voice mails, or callers that are from people or organizations you know, and even then, be cautious if they look questionable;
- Do not give money or disclose personal information;
- Be especially wary of emails or websites that have typos or other obvious mistakes. Delete suspicious emails and texts, and do not click on any links.
What are the resources for reporting scams?
- If you encounter a suspected phone scam or an abusive telemarketer, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, online or at 877-382-4357, and notify your state consumer protection office;
- Report caller-ID spoofing to the Federal Communications Commission, online or at 888-225-5322. The FCC also provides consumer guides to numerous phone scams and improper practices;
- Visit the Do Not Call Registry website or call 888-382-1222 to register your number or report illegal robocalls.
Be sure to keep yourself safe from scams this holiday season. For more information about the types of scams that occur and what you can do to protect yourself, visit the websites of the Social Security Administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and/or American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
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