Con artists, crooks and thieves love to exploit people and steal their identity. When this happens, you are in for a host of problems. Think about it, when someone steals your identity, they will open cards and bank accounts in your name and cause other serious havoc that takes months, if not years, to repair. While true, if you are proactive and avoid a few common scams, you can protect your good name. With this in mind, here are six popular identity theft scams.
Phishing: Since most people are online, they need to watch out for phishers. Older folks and less tech-savvy people are vulnerable when it comes to email and online phishing scams. The way this works is simple. A sender will send out an email asking you to confirm your bank account or credit card information. All-too-often, the user will click the email, open the page and put his or her information in the form. When this happens, the criminal enterprise will have enough data to steal your identity. To prevent this, when you receive a seemingly real email, you need to investigate further. To get to the bottom of the issue, call the bank or credit card company and simply ask them if they sent the email. If not, forward the message to the bank so it can investigate. Remember, it’s pretty rare that a bank will email you and ask you to confirm personal information.
IRS refund: Now, when getting an email from the Internal Revenue Service, most people perk up and want to fix the problem, immediately. Sadly, scammers take advantage of this by sending out emails or letters claiming that the consumer has a refund due to him or her. Then, the organization will ask the person to confirm his or her bank account number. Remember, if you receive correspondence from the IRS, it will only come via snail mail. For this reason, if you do receive anything in the mail, remember to investigate further. On the other hand, if you receive an email, you should immediately delete it.
Foreign lottery scam: While it seems foolish, many people will receive an email or letter telling them that they won a foreign lottery. Not only do the letters appear official, but people always want free money. When sending out a letter, the scammers will ask the person to confirm his or her bank account number and information to receive the funds. This is obviously a scam, and a consumer must throw out the letter or mark the message as spam.
Call to confirm your personal information: As mentioned, people will engage in phishing scams by sending out emails or letters. However, sophisticated criminals looking to work quickly will call people on the phone and ask them to confirm their bank account information. They ask for information such as a credit card number, account number or other personal information. Unless it’s a trusted source, you should hang up the phone and call your bank directly to confirm your suspicions.
Medical identity: When you head to a doctor’s office, the last thing you think about is having your identity stolen by a criminal. Sadly, this is a common occurrence, and one must remain careful, even while at the hospital or doctor’s office. To do so, keep an eye out on your records and ensure that they are only accessed by people who need to see the information. At the same time, don’t give out your social security number, unless you absolutely have to. Remember, while at the doctor’s office, it’s easy to make mistakes. However, if you do, you can watch as a mischievous criminal steals your identity.
Fake jury duty: Much like with the Internal Revenue Service, people will try to exploit others who fear running into problems with the government. Think about it, if your local county government calls, you are likely to respond with the right information. To avoid this, take down their information and call your local courthouse directly. Otherwise, if you don’t, someone can steal your identity with ease.
Now, while it’s obvious to see that people will try to steal your identity in a number of ways, you can prevent it with a common sense approach. Not only that, by taking action, you can protect others in the future. Here are four things you can do to take action.
Ask for a call-back number: When a person calls you on the phone asking for personal information, you will want to ask for a call-back number. If the business is legitimate, they will give you the toll-free number to the bank or institution. If the caller can’t provide the call-back number quickly, you will want to call the company directly.
Hang up: If all else fails, simply hang up on the caller. While this is not a long-term solution that will help others, it will get you out of the situation.
Report the scammer to the company: Finally, to take the long-term approach, you will want to report the scammer to the company. Simply call your provider and inform them of the scam. With this, the business can investigate further and protect clients later down the road.
Call the FTC: Finally, if you want to ensure that nobody else suffers, you should call the FTC. When calling the Federal Trade Commission, you will want to offer as much data as possible. Then, this governmental organization can investigate the problem and provide others with help down the road.
If you receive an email, phone call or letter from a person asking you for personal information, make sure to investigate. When you remain careful at all times, you will avoid most identity theft problems plaguing others. Having an identity theft protection plan in place is also a great, proactive way to combat identity theft threats.