How Do I Know If I've Been Scammed? Common Red Flags
If you suspect you are being scammed, Ent Credit Union is here to help. Money scams can take many different forms. Criminals may claim to be the government, such as the IRS, or even your local financial institution to con you out of your hard-earned money. There are several ways to find out if you are indeed the victim of a scam. Use this guide to protect yourself from scams online and over the phone.
Warning Signs That You’re Being Scammed
If someone is contacting you, it means they have access to your personal information, such as your home or work address, phone number or email address. Most of the time, the government, credit unions and other financial institutions won’t call you over the phone. You will typically receive an email or letter in the mail explaining the situation. The person is probably scamming you if any of the following are true:
- You didn’t authorize the conversation or message.
- You’re not sure how this person or organization got your information.
- The person wants you to pay money or share sensitive information over the phone, such as your bank account information, credit card number or Social Security number (Read our article, Things that Ent Will Never Ask you For).
- The person wants you to act quickly or respond with some sense of urgency.
- The person asks you to wire the money.
- The person threatens to report you to the government or credit bureau, sue you or levy some other kind of punishment, such as a fine.
- The person mentions a prize, gift card, discount or reward of some kind.
- The person offers you a guarantee of some kind, such as doubling your investment, zero interest rates or some other option that sounds too good to be true.
- The person offers you a product, investment option or credit card that you’ve never heard of before.
- The person is overly pushy or doesn’t take no for an answer.
- The person cannot clearly explain what they are selling or how the product works.
- The correspondence includes inaccurate information, such as the wrong balance in your account or the wrong account number.
- You received free money or someone deposited money into your account without your consent.
If the sender is really who they claim to be, they should ask you to verify your identity. (However, this doesn’t mean sharing your personal information over the phone, text or email.) Some financial institutions use multi-factor authentication to help verify your identity. Be cautious with who you share this information with, especially if they’re asking for codes or tokens in an unsolicited email, text or phone call. When dealing with written correspondence, such as a text, email or letter, be on the lookout for these warning signs as well:
- Misspellings, typos or incomplete sentences.
- Faded or discolored logos and images.
- Images and text that don’t automatically adjust depending on the size of your screen.
- Spoofing websites and emails that are made to look like the real thing.
- Unsecure websites that do not have a lock symbol next to the URL.
When it comes to investing, watch out for missing documentation, such as no prospectus for stocks or mutual funds, and no offering circular for bonds. This usually means the securities are unregistered. Some investment programs and trading products can make genuine errors; this is why you should inquire about any discrepancies related to your account to make sure it was a mistake and not a sign of fraud. Also, check with your brokerage or advisor to see if any third parties have access to your account.
What to Do Next
Most of the time, the scammer will pretend to be someone or something they’re not. If you suspect you are being scammed, you can always contact the government, financial institution or organization directly to verify that they are the ones that reached out to you. Update your communication preferences with your financial institution, credit card company and utility company to ensure you only receive messages via certain channels. When checking your bank account online, type in the full URL to make sure you’re going to the right website. Reset your password on financial accounts to protect your personal information. If you have money missing or added to your account, contact your financial institution to investigate the situation. They can cancel your debit or credit card and will typically reimburse you for any unauthorized transactions or purchases.
Try researching the message, phone number or organization online for more information. You can also copy and paste the message into Google or another search engine to see if it’s been flagged for fraud. Many people report money scams and fake messages online to help other consumers avoid making the same mistake. Contact the Federal Trade Commission to verify the identity of a company or organization. If you are the victim of an online scam, report it to your financial institution and the authorities immediately.
The Ent Promise
We value your privacy and financial security at Ent Credit Union. Our organization is dedicated to implementing the latest cybersecurity protocols to keep your money safe. Ent will never ask you to send or share your personal information over the phone, text or email. If someone contacts you pretending to be from Ent, report it immediately. You shouldn’t have to worry about someone breaking into your account. Ent is here to take the stress out of online banking, so you can rest assured your money is in good hands.