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10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud
Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to spend money or give out personal information. Here are some practical tips to help you stay a step ahead.
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don't send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request - whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
Do online searches
Type a company or product name into your search engine with words like "review," "complaint" or "scam." Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like "IRS call." You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
Don't Believe your caller ID
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren't always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
Don't pay upfront
Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you've won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
Consider how you pay
Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don't. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it's nearly impossible to get your money back. That's also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won't require you to use these payment methods.
Talk to someone
Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decision in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert - or just tell a friend.
Hang up on robocalls
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Comission. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don't press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
Be skeptical about free trial offers
Some companies use free trials to sign up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before your agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don't recognize.
Don't deposit a check and wire money back
By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take a bit longer.If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you're responsible for repaying the bank.
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