American Bank - Education Center
10 Ways to Avoid Fraud
The Internet offers a global market for products and information, but
cyber criminals also see the Internet as a source of millions of
potential victims. Many of the same scams that used to be done by
phone or mail are now found on the Internet and email. As
technologies change, so do the criminals to take advantage of those
Here are 10 things you can do — or not — to
stop a scam.
What to do:
Know who you are dealing with.
Try to find a seller’s physical address (not
a P.O. Box) and phone number. With internet phone services and other
web-based technologies, it’s tough to tell where someone is calling
from. Do an online search for the company name and website, and look for
reviews. If people report negative experiences, you will have to decide
if the offer is worth the risk. After all, a deal is good only if you
get a product that actually works as promised.
Know that wiring money is like sending cash.
Con artists often insist that people wire
money, especially overseas, because it is nearly impossible to reverse
the transaction or trace the money. Do not wire money to strangers, to
sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who
claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants to keep the
request a secret.
Read your monthly statements.
Scammers steal account information and then
run up charges or commit crimes in your name. Dishonest merchants bill
you for monthly “membership fees” and other goods or services without
your authorization. If you see charges you do not recognize or did not
authorize, contact your bank, card issuer, or other creditor
After a disaster, give only to established
In the aftermath of a disaster, give to an
established charity, rather than one that has sprung up overnight.
Pop-up charities probably do not have the infrastructure to get help to
the affected areas or people, and they could be collecting the money to
finance illegal activity. For more donating tips, check out
Talk to your doctor before you buy health products
Ask about research that supports a product’s
claims — and possible risks or side effects. In addition, buy
prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies. Otherwise, you
could end up with products that are fake, expired, or mislabeled — in
short, products that could be dangerous to your health. Learn more about
buying health products online.
Remember there is no sure thing in investing.
If someone contacts you with low-risk,
high-return investment opportunities, stay away. When you hear pitches
that insist you act now, that guarantee big profits, that promise little
or no financial risk, or that demand that you send cash immediately,
report them at ftc.gov.
What not to do:
Don’t send money to someone you don’t know.
Not to an online seller you’ve never heard of
— or an online love interest who asks for money. It’s best to do
business with sites you know and trust. If you buy items through an
online auction, consider using a payment option that provides
protection, like a credit card.
If you think you’ve found a good deal, but
you aren’t familiar with the company, check it out. Type the company or
product name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review,”
“complaint,” or “scam.” See what comes up — on the first page of results
as well as on the later pages.
Never pay fees first for the promise of a big
pay-off later — whether it’s for a loan, a job, a grant or a so-called
Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back.
By law, banks have to make funds from
deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can
take weeks. You are responsible for the checks you deposit. If a check
turns out to be a fake, you are responsible for paying back the bank. No
matter how convincing the story, someone who overpays with a check is
almost certainly a scam artist.
Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or
It does not matter whether the message comes
as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an ad. Don’t click on
links or call phone numbers included in the message, either. It’s called
phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into
revealing sensitive information. If you got a message like this and you
are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit
or debit card — or your statement — and check on it.
Don’t play a foreign lottery.
It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery. And
yet messages that tout your chances of winning a foreign lottery, or
messages that claim you’ve already won, can be tempting. Inevitably, you
have to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize.
If you must send money to collect, you haven’t won anything. And if you
send any money, you will lose it. You won’t get any money back, either,
regardless of promises or guarantees.
If you think you may have been scammed:
File a complaint with the Federal
Trade Commission. If you are outside the U.S., file a complaint at
Visit ftc.gov/idtheft, where you’ll
find out how to minimize your risk of identity theft.
Report scams to your state's Attorney
If you get unsolicited email offers or
spam, send the messages to email@example.com.
If you get what looks like lottery
material from a foreign country through the postal mail, take it to
your local postmaster.
This site is for educational purposes
and is not intended to provide legal advice. For specific advice
about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified
professional. Credits: Federal Trade Commission; Federal Bureau of
Investigation; Homeland Security; National Cyber Security Alliance.