There’s nothing worse than the feeling that overcomes someone when they find out they’ve been targeted by a scammer. Unfortunately, consumer fraud and scams are on the rise, and no one can afford the irreparable damage these crimes can have on a person’s bank account and credit. Fortunately, there are several ways in which people can protect themselves against consumer fraud and scams. The following are some helpful tips and advice a person can use to protect themselves and their loved ones from scammers.

Become Familiar With the Most Common Types of Consumer Fraud

One of the best ways a person can protect themselves from falling for a scam is to know what they should be on the lookout for. Generally speaking, most scams will target a person’s identity to gain access to their finances or personal information. Some of the most common types of consumer fraud include:

  • Debt collection fraud
  • Covid-19 fraud
  • Nonexistent charity funds
  • Robocalls for interest rate reductions
  • Lottery scams
  • Credit card fraud
  • Debit card fraud
  • Emergency scams
  • IRS impostors
  • Technical support claims

While this list is not exhaustive, it is a small sample of the many ways scammers try to target unsuspecting vulnerable people, such as college students and the elderly. By knowing how scammers are attempting to trick people into divulging their personal information, one can be more prepared to stop and assess the situation before engaging with them any further.

Understand the Common Signs of a Fraud or Scam

Typically speaking, a scammer will use particular tactics to instill a sense of urgency in their victim, compelling them to take action. They might pretend to be from an actual organization or charity to make contact. They often disguise their identity by utilizing technology to change the number that appears on a person’s caller ID. If a person picks up the phone or the scammer leaves a message, they will either claim there is an urgent matter that must be attended to immediately or that they have won a prize that must be collected. After they have made contact with their victim, they will compel them to stay on the phone and may threaten them with legal action, deportation, or arrest. They do not want their victim to hang up because they do not want them to have a chance to verify the validity of the call.

The final sign to look for when identifying a scam is that they will tell their victim they must pay their fee in a particular manner. One of the most common ways they will tell their victim to pay is to put the funds on a gift card and give them the information over the phone or through an email. They may also tell their victim to use a money transfer or to cash a check that has been sent to their residence. In the latter scenario, the victim will then be told to send the cash to a specified address. The cashed check will ultimately turn out to be a fake.

Stop and Think Before Reacting to a Scam

Legitimate businesses and companies will never engage in these fraudulent practices. If a person believes they are being scammed, the first thing they should do is to stop and think about what is being said. They should ask themselves the following questions:

  • “Was the phone call unsolicited?”
  • “Does the offer sound too good to be true?”
  • “Is the company recognizable?”
  • “Are they asking for payment in a specified manner?”
  • “Are they phishing for personal information through email?”
  • “Are they putting pressure on to act immediately?”

Another particularly obvious way to know if something is a scam is if the communication was sent via text or email. If there are grammatical errors or the name of the company sounds somewhat familiar but is still a bit “off,” then that’s a particularly strong clue that it is likely a scam.

When receiving a phone call or a message in regards to an urgent personal matter, one should always ask themselves who contacted who first. An unsolicited phone call regarding a matter of urgency should always be deemed suspicious, regardless of how “official” it may seem. One particular scam that has affected unsuspected family members of young adults will state that they are in physical danger or that they have been arrested and must be bailed out immediately. A person who receives such a call should first reach out to their child before taking any action.

Talk to Someone Trustworthy

If a person is still wondering whether a phone call is a scam or if it is legitimate, they should reach out to someone they trust before they divulge any personal information or send any money. A trusted family member or a legal expert can both be very helpful in these situations. By taking the time to investigate and further look into the matter, one will be less likely to fall victim to identity theft, fraud attempts, and scam artists.

What can someone do if they have fallen victim to identity fraud or a scam?

If someone has become the victim of a scam, the first thing they should do is cease all contact with the scammer. Next, they should report the scam to the appropriate authorities as well as the Federal Trade Commission. Finally, they should contact an expert who has extensive experience representing clients who have fallen victim to identity fraud and scams. Although the damage has already been done, an experienced professional will be able to help bring a lawsuit against the scammer as well as help the victim recoup some of what they have lost.

Every day, there are millions of attempts made to scam unsuspecting victims out of money. Although most people have become quite aware of what to look for, some people ultimately fall victim to those who are ill-intentioned. By becoming familiar with what to look out for and knowing what to do during these attempts, a person will be less likely to fall victim to these criminals and maintain better peace of mind.