How to Spot Impostor Scams

by Safety Connection

This week is National Consumer Protection Week. Fraud losses in the United States were up 70% in 2021 over 2020, and impostor scams were at the top of the list. Do you know how to protect yourself against impostor scams? Here are some tips from our partners at Madison Area Crime Stoppers:

Impostor scams usually start with an unsolicited phone call, text, email or pop-up that has sense of urgency involved (you owe a fee or back taxes, you missed jury duty, a problem has been detected with your computer, a family member is in trouble, or you won a big prize for a contest or lottery you didn’t enter).

Scammers are successful because they impersonate companies, agencies and people that consumers typically trust. Here are some actions you can take to protect yourself from impostor scams:

  • Don’t give out your personal information unless you initiated the contact

  • Be aware that scammers can spoof your caller ID to make it look like calls are coming from a federal agency, your bank, your credit card company, your police department or even a relative

  • Don’t send payments to anyone via gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Anyone who asks you to pay that way is a scammer

  • Don’t let anyone remotely access your computer unless you’ve contacted them to ask for help

  • Consider creating a family/friends password or passphrase that your loved ones can use to protect against false identity scams (like the insidious Grandparent Scam)

Finally, seniors were the biggest victims of impostor scams in 2021 according to the FTC. If you care for an aging parent or friend, talk to them about these scams and how they can protect themselves.

You can also sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry to cut down on unwanted calls.

And visit FTC’s website to learn more about the latest and most common scams, how to report them and what to do if you think you’ve been victimized.

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