People lose a lot of money to phone and mail scams — sometimes their life savings. Scammers have figured out countless ways to cheat you out of your money over the phone or by mail. In some scams, they act friendly and helpful. In others, they might threaten or try to scare you. One thing you can count on is that phone and mail scammers will try to get your money or your personal information to commit theft. Don’t give it to them. These scams come in many forms, but they tend to make similar promises and threats, or ask you to pay certain ways. Here’s how to recognize a scam. There’s never a good reason to send cash or pay with a gift card. Scammers will often ask you to pay in a way that makes it hard for you to get your money back — by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app. Anyone who asks you to pay that way is a scammer. Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers can make any name or number show up on your caller ID. That’s called spoofing. So even if it looks like it’s a government agency like the Social Security Administration calling, or like the call is from a local number, it could be a scammer calling from anywhere in the world. Don’t give anyone you don’t know remote access to your computer. If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem. Don’t give anyone your passwords or your sensitive information. It’s never a good idea to give out sensitive information like your Social Security number to someone who calls you unexpectedly, even if they say they’re with the Social Security Administration or IRS.
You won’t be arrested. Scammers might pretend to be law enforcement or a federal agency. They might say you’ll be arrested, fined, or deported if you don’t pay taxes or some other debt right away. The goal is to scare you into paying. But real law enforcement and federal agencies won’t call and threaten you. Response-Required Bank Notification Letter. Scammers send a letter urgently alerting the recipient that unless they provide personal information (like a date of birth) that’s missing, incomplete or inaccurate, the financial institution will restrict or close their accounts. What you should do: • Don’t ignore little things that seem odd, like a return envelope that required postage and wasn’t self-addressed. • First call your bank using the phone numbers on their website or listed on the back of your bank cards. Do not call the number listed on the letter itself. Never reveal personal information before verifying that the letter sent was or wasn’t fraudulent. • Always question any letter requests that demand personal information ASAP, threaten to close accounts or emphasize how time sensitive this “important matter” is. So, the take-away is: • There’s never a good reason to pay with a gift card or send cash • Don’t Trust your caller ID • Don’t give anyone you don’t know remote access to your computer • Don’t give anyone your passwords or sensitive information • You won’t be arrested • Response-Required bank Notification Letters, don’t call the number listed on the letter.
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