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Tips to avoid fraud

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A scam is a way to trick money out of you. They can take on many forms, from phishing emails and fake phone calls to sweepstakes and identity theft.

Scams are very common, with one in ten Americans now falling victim to fraud every year. But there are ways to try to prevent it happening to you, including being aware of the signs of fraud.


Ten tips for avoiding fraud

Follow these tips to help avoid becoming a target of fraudulent scams and schemes.

  • Know the person

    Before you send money to a stranger, check the person or company to make sure they are genuine.

    Sometimes scammers may even pretend to be someone you know or a trusted body. If you get a message out the blue asking for money, go straight to the source to check it‘s actually them

  • Question the reasoning

    If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Anyone offering free money or prizes, or the chance to make money easily, is probably a scammer. Especially if that offer comes with a request for an upfront payment.

  • Use secure payments

    Pay with a credit card or trusted payment provider where you can. These payments protect against fraud, so you have more chance of getting your money back if you are scammed.

    Watch out for people asking for unconventional ways of payment, like gift cards, bitcoin or reloadable cards. This could be a red flag of a dishonest deal.

  • Protect your personal details

    Pay with a credit card or trusted payment provider where you can. These payments protect against fraud, so you have more chance of getting your money back if you are scammed.

    Watch out for people asking for unconventional ways of payment, like gift cards, bitcoin or reloadable cards. This could be a red flag of a dishonest deal.

  • Research online

    The internet can be a great place to check for scams, as the chances are someone else has had a similar experience with scammers posing as a certain company or using the same number or email.

    You can use Better Business Bureau’s search tool to see if a company is credible. Or type the company name into Google to see what the top results are, including reviews and testimonies from other customers.

  • Don’t trust caller ID

    Scammers can change their caller ID information to display as someone you trust. If the call seems suspicious, hang up and call back on the number in your contacts or on the number listed on a company’s website.

    You can also search a phone number online to see if it has been reported as a scam.

  • Check your credit report

    If someone has hold of your financial details, they can use them to make purchases in your name.

    Regularly checking your credit report will flag any unknown accounts or information and help if you want to contact the credit reference agencies to dispute them. You have free access to your report once a year from either Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.

  • Be wary of checks

    If you are selling something online, a common scam is to send you a check worth more than the item, then ask for the extra amount back.

    A fake check may not be noticed straight away, and you may be charged fees if it bounces. By the time this is discovered, you may have already sent the extra money to them and will find yourself out of pocket.

  • Choose secure passwords

    You should have secure passwords for any online accounts. This means something not easily guessed, with a mix of upper and lower cases, numbers and symbols. It’s wise to avoid obvious important dates, like your birthday or wedding anniversary, as this could easily be accessed via social media.

    Change these regularly and try to use completely different passwords for each of your accounts.

  • Delay the deal

    Scammers will want to act quickly, so you don’t have time to get wise to their tricks.

    Ask for more time to make your decision and see how they react. If they try and pressure you into acting now, it’s a major red flag.

If you think you are being scammed, report it. Sites like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) let you register a potential scam, so you can help other people not fall victim.

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