Unfortunately, scammers are out there taking advantage of innocent people, and their petty crimes are not exactly something you can call the police about. But it still impacts you; therefore, we hope that these recommendations will help you defend your assets and identity from these cruel criminals.
Take your time
Scammers like to create urgency in their messages, letters, and phone calls in order to force people into hasty decisions. Are their messages written in all capital letters or include exclamation points? Do they use words like “urgent” or “expiring soon”? Do not panic and take a moment to read the message or letter fully, or ask questions if you are on the phone with a potential scammer. Don’t click on any links, and even be wary of files and images!
Personal details are key
Many scammers will send invoices or balance statements that look real—they may have even found a way to put company logos on these documents. But did they include important, personal details such as your first and last name, account numbers, policy numbers, loan numbers, vehicle identification numbers, the last four digits of your social security number, etc.? If this invoice or bill is real, it will include some details that you can verify are truly associated with your identity and assets.
If you’re still uncertain, call
Some scammers are better at their “jobs”, and have gathered some information about you ahead of time. If the payment request looks real and contains some information that looks correct, and you are still not sure it is legitimate, do your due diligence and call the company that is requesting payment. If there is a phone number listed on the document, do not use it; instead, locate their contact information on a reliable document you have saved from that company, or search for their verified customer service phone number online.
Dealing with the aftermath
If you have dodged a scammer, report them to the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/. Once you have done this, delete their message and block them, or throw away their spam mail so you do not accidentally follow up with them later.