FORT MYERS, Fla. — Don’t fall victim to scammers trying to take your money or personal information.
Thieves often send fake texts trying to steal information like passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could access your email, bank account, or social media accounts.
Scammers who steal information often sell it to other criminals.
Keep an eye out for these four common signs to avoid falling for a scam.
- Scammers pretend to be from a recognizable organization — Criminals might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Others might pretend to be from a business, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations.
- Scammers mention a problem or a prize — They might claim you’re in legal trouble or that you owe money. Some scammers mention that there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify personal information.
- Scammers pressure you to act fast — If you’re on the phone with a scammer, they might tell you not to hand up so you don’t have time to research the legitimacy of their story.
- Scammers will often tell you to pay in an oddly specific way — If someone is asking for payment via gift card, that’s a sure sign of a scam. Sometimes, criminals will send you a check (that is fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them the money.
These criminals can be very convincing, so here’s what to do if you fall victim to a scammer:
- Did you pay the scammer with a credit or debit card? If so, call the bank that issued the credit card or debit card. Tell them it was a fraudulent charge. Ask them to reverse the transaction and give you your money back.
- Did you make a wire transfer through Western Union or MoneyGram? Contact the wire transfer company. Tell them it was a fraudulent transfer. Ask them to reverse the wire transfer and give you your money back.
- Did you pay with cryptocurrency? Contact the company you used to send the money and ask for the transaction to be reversed, if possible.
- Did you send cash? If you sent the cash with U.S. mail, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and ask them to intercept the package. LEARN MORE: USPS Package Intercept: The Basics.
If you think your social security number has gotten into the wrong hands, you can go to IdentityTheft.gov for steps you should take, including how to monitor your credit.
Worried about your social media or bank accounts? It’s a good idea to make a new, strong password. If you use the same password anywhere else, change it there, too.
Do you suspect that a scammer has remote access to your computer, you can update your computer’s security software, run a scan, and delete anything it identifies as a problem.
After you secure your accounts and personal information, report the scam to the FTC. Officials will use the information to build cases against scammers, spot trends, educate the public, and share data about what is happening in your community.
CLICK HERE to report a scam.