No, it’s not Baby Boomers, though they are the target of certain types of scams. The age group most vulnerable to scams is actually 18 to 24 years olds. Although those digital natives understand a lot about how technology works and can help you navigate the latest social media network, they also can fall prey to savvy scammers.
Are you in that age group? Are your students or children? Fear not! There are six simple ways to protect yourself, and your money, from fraud.
Fake check scams are unfortunately too common. A fake check scam might play out like this: Imagine that you are trying to sell something online. A potential buyer contacts you about the item and says they will have a friend bring you a check, but for an amount larger than the purchase price. They ask you to deposit the check and transfer (via wire or payment app) the difference to the person or someone else. Often, the person disappears and the check may bounce, leaving you out the money you sent to the person.
Fake checks can look very real, or may even be the checks of someone who is the victim of identity theft. It can take weeks for a check to be deemed bad, even if the funds are made available in your account quickly or the check has appeared to clear. As a best practice, only accept checks from people you know and trust. Never use check money to send gift cards, wire transfers or other instant money transfers to people you do not know or have just met. A fake check scam might also involve winning a contest you never signed up for but asked to send money for taxes, processing or other fees. A good rule to live by is that if something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
If you’ve been a victim of this type of fraud or someone has attempted this scam intending you to be the victim, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Federal Trade Commission received 1.4 million reported cases of consumer identity theft in 2021, a number that has drastically increased over the last five years. Experts believe that a case of identity theft happens every 22 seconds – meaning by the time you have read this part of the article, there have likely been at least three new cases of identity theft.
Alarming as those statistics are, you have the power to protect your information and fight against identity theft. Examples include:
Online payment services have made sending and receiving money from friends and family quick and easy. Unfortunately, scammers know that with these apps, once money is sent it is incredibly difficult or nearly impossible to get back.
If you often use these payment services, be sure that you verify who you are sending money to and double-check details before pressing send. If you receive a text, email or other communication from someone you don’t know or recognize or get a message asking you for money unexpectedly, do not click on any links. Even if you hate talking on the phone, sometimes a quick call to verify with someone can save a lot of headache down the line.
Be wary of sharing any personal information, such as username, PIN or passwords as well. Rarely, if ever, will legitimate organizations solicit these details from you out of the blue.
Shopping online is another gateway for scammers to gain access to your financial information. One of the reasons that 18 to 24 are more vulnerable to scams is due to the fact that this group is more likely to make a purchase or do other business digitally or online.
You’ve likely heard horror stories about companies advertising on popular social media sites that do not deliver the product they advertise, take forever to actually send the goods purchased, or straight up just take money. Before any type of personal or exchanging money with a business online, it’s wise to do some research into the legitimacy of the company. Check out reviews online and organizations like the Better Business Bureau before inputting any financial information, like a credit or debit card number.
Some errors that mean lost money can come from moving too quickly or multitasking. Before making a purchase or sending money through a payment app, we recommend pausing to ensure all details add up. This one simple step can help you avoid becoming a scam statistic.
From phone scams to phishing emails and texts, scammers are finding new ways every day to fraudulently gain access to personal and sensitive information. Vigilance is the best prevention measure. Keeping up with your finances and financial information, like your credit report, can help you identify and solve issues quickly. Reporting fraud within 24 hours of the occurrence gives you the best chance to get your money back.
You aren’t alone in the fight against fraud. Rockland Trust takes these issues very seriously and is always looking for ways to improve security to help prevent scams or fraud attempts from being successful. We are here to help you safeguard your financial information and live your best financial life.
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