When it comes to avoiding fraud, it can feel like being scammed is inevitable. Your spam inbox is full of attempts to trick you, every other phone call you get is just another request for your information, and it seems like everyone has a story of how they were recently involved in a new, scary scam. It can start to feel like you are always being warned of a new scam popping up, ready to take advantage of you.
Be skeptical, not worried.
Though it’s easy to be scared of falling victim to fraud, the remedy for your worry is to be informed. You don’t need to know the details of every scam out there in order to stay safe. Knowing what to look for and how to protect yourself is the best way to defend yourself against fraud.
How do I know if this is a debt relief offer or a scam?
Debt relief and loan forgiveness are very enticing offers for many people as we navigate our current economy. While there are companies out there who may offer products to help during this hard time, use these tips to take a closer look at what they are offering.
- Are they asking you to pay a fee for assistance?
- Do they promise immediate relief or forgiveness of debt?
- Are they using official-sounding words in their company name, such as “federal” or “national”?
Though these offers may seem like the answer you’ve been looking for, they often offer unrealistic results, and then leave you in the same, if not worse, financial situation as before. If you are in need of help during this time, please remember that Idaho Central is offering borrower assistance programs.
How do I identify fraudulent deposits or checks?
Searching for a job or supplemental income in our current economy can be stressful. It can be made even more stressful when trying to weed out which offers are valid, and which ones might be too good to be true. Here are five red flags to look out for to be sure any offer or payment is legitimate.
- Are they asking you to pay a fee for certification, training materials, or other expenses before you begin working?
- Are you expecting a payment in this amount from this individual or organization?
- Are they asking you to wire money or asking for your credit card information?
- Is the payment equal to the agreed upon amount?
- Are they asking you to cash a check and forward a portion of the money somewhere else?
How do I stay safe online?
Practicing every-day safety in your internet usage will help protect you against most threats.
- Do not respond to unsolicited spam emails.
- Understand the risk of using unsecured or public wireless networks.
- Only open attachments and links from trusted senders.
- Secured websites will have an icon of a locked padlock that typically appears right next to the URL in the address bar. Don’t enter your personal or credit card information into a website if that icon isn’t present.
- Never provide your credit card information in an email, text, or over the phone.
- Always log directly into the official website for a business, instead of linking to it from an unsolicited email.
How do I protect my loved ones?
Your friends and family are important to you, and it’s important to help them stay safe as well. Keep them informed about any scams, and help them know and put into place best practices to keep their identity and money safe.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, millennial’s are 25% more likely to report losing money to fraud than adults age 40 and over. However, their median individual reported loss is much lower than what other age groups report. Elder Abuse is another threat to be on the lookout for, as the NCOA (National Council on Aging) estimates that approximately 1 in 10 Americans, aged 60+, have experienced some form of Elder Abuse, including financial abuse. One study estimates that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported to the authorities. Help protect the people you love by bringing awareness to potential scams and how to avoid them.
Many scams capitalize on simply creating a sense of urgency. Slow down and really evaluate what is being presented to you. Take your time to verify anything that may seem off, trust your instincts, and don’t commit to or take action on something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
As always, please remember that Idaho Central would never send you an email with a link asking you to provide login credentials, security questions, or any other personal information. Always go directly to www.iccu.com or use our app to login and access your online banking. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you ever have questions or concerns; Idaho Central can help you identify scams or fraud, and help you with the next steps needed to protect yourself.