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10 Tips to Avoid Becoming a Scam Victim

  1. Remember, the safest place for your money is in the bank. You get the comfort of knowing that your funds are secure and insured by the government when you deposit your money at a bank. Having your money outside the banking system, like physical cash or outside investments, does not allow you the same level of protection as having it in the bank.
  2. Do a little research before making a donation. Be wary of any business, charity, or individual that contacts you about payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Legitimate places will offer multiple steps of validation, so be sure to call the national or regional office if you are unsure.
  3. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use common forms of communication, like emails, texts, phone calls, and even websites, to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments from sources you are not familiar with. Also, be sure to never give your password, account number, or PIN to anyone.
  4. Enable multi-factor authentication for accounts that support it. Within the security settings for a lot of accounts is the availability to add a multi-factor authentication (MFA). This creates a second step to verify who you are when logging in, often by sending a one-time text code or answering very specific questions only you’d know the answer to.
  5. Ignore offers for vaccines, cures, or treatments. If there is a medical breakthrough, it wouldn’t be reported through unsolicited emails or online ads. Always do your research before being contacted about something like this.
  6. Rely on official sources for the most up-to-date information during times of crisis. Visit official, government-backed websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Treasury (DOT), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and even your state’s department websites to keep track of the latest developments.
  7. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Make sure your computer and mobile device security software, web browser, and operating systems have the most recent updates to best defend against viruses, malware, and other online threats. If able, turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
  8. Recognize and avoid bogus website links. Fraudsters and cybercriminals embed easy-to-click links to downloaded malware, causing your device to become infected without you even knowing it. The easiest way to detect bad links is to hover over the link to view the actual URL that you are being routed to. The fraudulent URL link will often mimic a real, trustworthy link, but it will have slight differences. Here’s an example of what to look out for: www.ABC-Bank.com vs ABC_Bank.com.
  9. Educate yourself before making any investments. Remember, during times of crisis there is also a high potential for fraud. Be very wary of any company claiming to be helping those in need or ability to prevent, detect or cure diseases. For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website.
  10. Help others by reporting scams. Visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov to report suspected or confirmed scams. You can also stay up-to-date on the latest scams by visiting the FTC’s page at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.