Identity fraud cost Americans about $56 billion in 2020, with about 49 million individuals getting swindled in various schemes — many involve spoofing.
Spoofing continues to accelerate at alarming rates.
Scammers may attempt to impersonate the credit union, gas or electric company, hospital, a charity, or insurance company. In fact, they can mimic virtually any type of legitimate entity. It may start with a phony text message, or an email demanding funds for a past due bill. Others call to request money or information. And with the Ukrainian crisis, the scammers may solicit you for charitable contributions.
In an example specific to banking, scammers may solicit an individual to ‘validate’ recent credit or debit card activity or ‘activate’ a new card. Another scheme is a bogus utility scammer calling to say your service will be shut down without immediate payment. No utility will demand immediate payment by phone.
If asked to click on a link or call an unknown number, consider that a red flag.
Be cautious and be okay with terminating a call or email. Never share your personal info, bank or credit union account numbers or payment data; don’t click on links embedded in a text or email, and don’t call an unknown phone number. Quickly end contact with any suspicious message and instead contact the business on your own. You can find the appropriate contact numbers on your bill or the company’s website.
Watch for fake charity sites, too.
As our concerns for the Ukrainians rise, so do the opportunities for fraudsters looking to exploit a tragedy. If solicited for money, be wary. For questions regarding a potential charity, visit the Better Business Bureau’s website, Give.org. It provides Standards for Charity Accountability that can help you make an informed decision.
“Unfortunately, bad actors often try to take advantage of people’s goodwill,” said Lisa Frohnapfel, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan. “You want to make sure your donation is used as intended, so it is important to take some time and make sure the charity you are working with can deliver on their promises and support.” If you’re unsure, visit the BBB website for guidance.
Scammers continue to reinvent ways to fool us.
Don’t inadvertently become one of their victims! If you have questions, contact us at 616.532.9067. Our goal is always to keep your data safe and secure.