When I heard about the recent Target security breach, I was really bummed to find out that I was one of the 70 million people to use their card at Target during the time period that the thieves accessed. And just the other night on I heard on the news that scammers are doing an IRS tax refund scam. How it works is the scammers will electronically file taxes under your name, make up the W2 information (since if you file online you don’t have to submit the paper copies before getting your return), and then your refund check gets sent to the thief! Shockingly, the news reporter said there is nothing you can do to prevent this from happening to you except to file your taxes electronically before someone else does it under your name and social security number!
Being a part of the Target breach and hearing about the IRS identity theft/tax refund scam got me thinking about scammers and their evil ways.
Falling for a scam can make you feel like a natural born sucker. You end up feeling guilty, mad, and stupid after you discover you’ve been taken for a ride and have subsequently lost your money. It should be noted that today’s scammers are often so complex and unbelievable that it can be hard to tell good from evil.
Click through for 8 things you can do to prevent getting caught up in a scam …
Be in the Know! 1 of 9
Image source: Dave Dugdale
Keep Your Mouth Closed 2 of 9
Some scammers are so finessed at their tricks, it can be hard to resist. If someone contacts you in person or by phone asking for information, don't give it out. Unless you are absolutely certain you know who you are speaking with, provide nothing. If the caller claims to be from your bank or credit card company, hang up the phone and contact the company yourself.
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Change Passwords Often 3 of 9
I know it's tempting to use the same password for every account because it's such a pain trying to remember all the different ones but resist the urge to do so. Make sure you use a complex password — one that is long (over 8 characters), and has a number and includes uppercase letters. Try to use a short phrase or two words that are very different from one another. Also, change your passwords every 6 months or so to keep your information secure.
Image source: marc falardeau
Check with Friends in Trouble 4 of 9
There have been many email scams going around where you get an email from a person you actually know telling you they are in trouble or so it seems. Hackers have ways to make it look like friends on your email list or social media page have contacted you personally. Before falling for this trick, call your friend or family member directly to see what the real story is.
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Don’t Believe the Hype 5 of 9
Just because there is an infomercial on TV doesn't mean it is factual. There are so many miracle products being advertised on TV and online that it can be hard to resist. Before spending your cash on any product that makes promises, do your research. Do a quick Internet search for the product complaints from other consumers or from legitimate experts. Always check with your doctor before starting any diet or taking supplements or medications being sold online.
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Review Your Personal Account Statements 6 of 9
There are many people that take the safety of their finances for granted, and they neglect the most basic tasks, like reviewing their monthly statements for inaccuracies or fraud. Credit card bills, bank statements and the like need to be taken more seriously to prevent cons and theft. Read each statement every month to check for unauthorized charges as it is one of the most common scams still going on today.
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Swindlers Can Be Local 7 of 9
Don't think people in your area are good all the time. Be very cautious when making transactions online with local people such as with Craigslist sellers and those people from local classified ads. Take a friend with you when picking up purchases, and always meet in a public place.
Image source: AlishaV
It Is Probably Too Good to Be True 8 of 9
As the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you've been told you won a jackpot, you knew nothing about or that you can get a free car just by following a few instructions, know that things likely are not on the up and up. No one gives away free money or cars no matter how good the offer may seem.
Image source: angel.ite
Donate Directly 9 of 9
Have you ever noticed how many donation pages pop up online and on TV after a natural disaster? Do you get confused by the tons of websites and Facebook pages asking for donations? If you have a favorite charity or cause you'd like to help financially, avoid texting your donation. Instead, go right to the charity's official website for donation information to ensure the money goes where it should rather than into some stranger's pocket.
Image source: University of Salford