Fraud. It’s prevalent in our society, and with the holidays approaching, scammers are looking to catch you off guard in the tizzy of holiday shopping and travel. Don’t be a victim, and always report suspicious activity.
Thousands of people fall victim to fraudulent texts, emails, and calls from entities pretending to be their bank, service provider, or retailer. Never provide any confidential information in response to any of these outreaches.
If you receive an unsolicited email, text, or phone call, take down the information. Then immediately contact your provider through a known email or phone number and indicate you received an alert that your account has been compromised. This will verify whether your account has indeed been impacted or if a scammer is simply trying to get you to click on a fraudulent link or provide confidential information that should never be requested in an unsolicited communication.
Links in electronic communication can be dangerous not only because they can take you to a fraudulent site that may look like your provider’s site, but they may also cause malware to be loaded onto your devices. This malware can cause invasive damage by accessing personal information stored on your device.
Recently Peer-to-Peer (P2P) fraud has been increasing. P2P transactions include Zelle, PayPal, and Venmo. Jennifer Williams, Compliance Officer at Welcome Federal Credit Union (WFCU), knows making people aware of fraud, risk, and scams are part of the Credit Union’s mission. WFCU not only helps members make sound financial decisions, but it also protects its members by helping them recognize and avoid situations such as accidentally authorizing a suspicious Zelle transaction.
According to USAFacts1, consumer fraud complaints have grown from 230,628 in 2000 to 5,737,265 in 2021. As the technology for convenience grows, so does the fraud potential. However, the article “The Data Shows that Zelle Is the Safest Way for Consumers to Move Their Money,”2 reveals Zelle makes up the least percentage of disputed transactions on P2P payment platforms at 0.058%.
The best way to protect yourself is to know who you are transacting business with. Know your buyer and seller, and ensure you are on legitimate websites. Look carefully for irregularities in URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) – website addresses. Look for typos in the communication content. These are basic rules for recognizing potential scams. And always report suspicious activity to your provider.
When it comes to sending money electronically, AARP has some good rules to follow:
AARP Fraud Watch Network’s 5 ways to stay safe3
- Never use P2P transfer apps when engaging with strangers or businesses. For purchases or other transactions, you have much more protection if you use a credit card.
- If someone you don’t know insists on being paid with Zelle, Cash App, or Venmo, walk away. The odds are too high that it’s a scam.
- Link the app you use to a credit card rather than a bank account for more built-in protection. And be sure to pay off the credit card on time to avoid paying interest.
- Don’t click on links sent to you via text or email with a request to update your P2P account information. These are often sent by scammers.
- If you do think you’ve been cheated, always go directly to the app’s website to reach customer service. If you do a generic web search for a company’s customer service department, fake sites built by crooks often will show up among the results — and you could get hit by a whole other scam.
If you believe you’re a victim of internet fraud or cybercrime, in addition to reporting it to your banking or service provider, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Or, you can use the FBI’s online tips form.