Becoming a victim of identity theft or a money scam can easily turn your finances into a complete mess. Your credit score can be ruined, and you may even lose money as a result of a scam. The good news is that a lot of cases of identity theft can be avoided, but awareness is key to not becoming a victim. By recognizing and knowing about some of the more common identity theft scams ahead of time, you can take action and not fall victim to a scam artist. Some identity theft and money scams to be aware of include:
Western Union scams
Western Union scams have a somewhat high success rate because they trick victims into thinking they are receiving an email from a friend or family member, but that person’s email address was actually hacked. They might claim to be in a tough spot and need you to send them money as soon as possible, usually by Western Union. Because these emails often come from loved ones, a lot of victims don’t think twice about helping out, when they’ve actually just sent money to a hacker. This amount can be hundreds or thousands of dollars, which can be a devastating loss to the victim when they find out it was actually a scam artist on the receiving end.
If you ever receive an email from someone you know, validate that person’s identity by asking them questions that only that person would know the answers to. Better yet, try to call that person just to confirm that their email account wasn’t hacked.
Phone calls asking for financial information
Similar to phishing through email, some scam artists will instead target their victims by telephone. If you’ve ever gotten a phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank or credit card company, you may not think twice about supplying the information they ask for. However, banks won’t usually call their customers and ask for this information. If your account has been compromised, they might call you to verify the charges. If they do ask for information, it’s usually just the last four digits of your account or your Social Security number. Be wary of anyone who asks for the entire number, or anybody who initiates contact and claims to be from a bank. Instead, hang up, and call the number on the back of your card to verify the legitimacy of the phone call.
Missed jury duty
Another common identity theft scam is the missed jury duty phone call. You might receive a phone call from someone claiming that you missed jury duty, even though you never received a jury duty summons. The caller might then ask for personal information that you’re actually not required to supply, or claim that you need to pay a fee over the phone for missing jury duty. If you ever receive a phone call like this, don’t supply any information that could compromise your identity or finances. Instead, hang up and reach out to your local courthouse to report the phone call.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.