Scams are everywhere you look, from email to text to social media and more. It’s hard to protect yourself against all of them, but the Fraud Squad is committed to helping our communities protect themselves from losing their hard-earned money to any of them.
The Federal Trade Commission also helps consumers protect themselves and is the agency you would want to report scams to. They help people understand in a simple way the four main characteristics of scams using four Ps: Pretense, Problem/Prize, Pressure and Payment.
The four “Ps” in every scam:
- Pretense: To get close to you and have any credibility with their call, email, text or message request, scammers have to pretend to be someone you know. This can be a friend, a business you patronize or even a government entity.
- Problem or Prize: Scammers like to present victims with problems that need to be solved or the promise of a prize. Scam themes run the gamut from “you have family stuck overseas” to “you haven’t paid your taxes” to you simply “you have a virus on your computer.” Or, scammers may falsely claim you’ve won something or have a refund coming. Either way, these things make the perfect set-up to have you on the hook for what comes next—pressure.
- Pressure: Your friends and even companies you do business with would never pressure you to make a decision or act on something they’re asking you for, but scammers sure will! They may even go so far as to ask you to stay on a call, threaten you or threaten to call the police or other governmental agency.
- Payment: Let’s face it. Scammers and fraudsters are only out for one thing: your money. Oftentimes this request will come in the form of asking for gift cards or a wire transfer, or receiving an advance check from the scammer (remember, if it’s too good to be true…well, you know the rest!).
Five ways to protect yourself
- Block them. There are ways to block unwanted callers and even text messages from your smartphone. Additionally, you can always get put on the “Do not Call” list. If you receive a call from a phone number you don’t recognize or doesn’t come up in your contacts, simply don’t answer it. If it’s someone you know or need to conduct business with, they will certainly leave you a voicemail about what they need.
- Delete them. If you receive an unsolicited, seems-like-it’s-a-scam text or email, immediately delete them. Do not click on anything in either a text or email. In some cases, you can right click on an email and scroll down to “security” and report the email as phishing or junk mail, and even block the sender from sending anything in the future (it’s a great way to keep your inbox a bit tidier, too!).
- Ignore them. If a scammer happens to get through to you by phone or email, never ever engage with someone who fits the four “Ps” above and is asking you for money or otherwise explaining a problem to you. And by all means, do NOT give them any financial information or payments. This information is your private business and has no business being discussed in email or texts. And never pay anyone you don’t know.
- Resist them. The pressure mentioned above can lead you to irrational thinking. If you don’t know what to do, hit the “pause” button. Either hang up or ask someone in your household (or even call a friend first!) whether or not you should do what’s being asked of you.
- Report them. While scams happen a lot, that doesn’t mean you just have to live with them. Help us and the whole world fight fraud together by playing an active role in reporting fraudulent activity to the Federal Trade Commission at http://reportfraud.ftc.gov/.
How Verve and Fraud Squad can help
Our Fraud Squad provides education around common scams to retailers and consumers within the Fox Valley and surrounding areas. The program helps raise awareness of common scams so they can more easily recognize the lies and avoid phone, email, social media, gift card and other scams to help them protect their financial health and wealth.
If you think your Verve account is at risk because of any scam, call Verve at 800.448.9228. One of our team members can look at your account with you to verify there are no suspicious transactions, help you cancel your card if you’ve entered your number into a questionable website, as well as guide you on how to safeguard your account against fraud.
It’s Verve’s goal—in line with our guiding seven Cooperative Principles—to provide education, training and information to help our members stay financially fit. Verve is committed to keeping our members educated when it comes to their finances by providing details on financial risks and ways to stay safe.
Help your friends and family stay safe against social media scams by sharing this blog post.