How to Recognize and Protect Yourself from Scams

woman looking at scam on tablet

At Partner Colorado Credit Union, our biggest priority is your financial wellness. Understanding how to keep your money safe is important when it comes to protecting your finances. We’ve made this guide to help you recognize and protect yourself from scams.

Five ways to spot a scammer

1. If you don’t initiate an application process, and you’re asked for detailed information before agreeing to process an application.
2. They insist on a specific method of payment.
3. They send a check for an inflated amount to a seller or “employee,” and then ask the victim to mail them the extra money. Of course, the original check will not clear.
4. You can’t find any information about the company the caller allegedly represents.
5. You’re pressured to act now.

Who are the targets?

Scammers usually cast a wide net to ensnare as many victims as possible. However, lots of scams focus on a subset of highly vulnerable targets. Here are some of the most common targets of scams.

The unemployed
If you’re job-hunting, don’t respond to emails offering you a “dream position” you never applied to have.

The elderly
Older people often spend lots of time online. They can also be less aware of the dangers lurking there.

Children
Children will more readily share information with strangers, which can then be used to steal their identity.

What do scams look like?

Here are some of the most common scams.

Cyber-hacking
Hackers gain remote access to your computer and personal information.

Phishing scams
Scammers bait you into sharing personal information, which they use to hack your accounts or steal your identity.

Mystery shopper
A bogus company will “hire” you to purchase an item in a store and then report back on the experience. Before you get started, though, you’ll have to pay a hefty fee, which you’ll never see again.

Job offers
Scammers “hire” you for a position and then scam you by sending you an inflated check, as detailed above.

Sweetheart scams
A scammer pretending to be an online love interest will con you into sending them money and gifts or sharing personal information.

Fraudulent investments
Scammers reach out to victims with information about lucrative investments that don’t exist.

10 ways to protect yourself from scams

1. Never share personal information online.
2. Don’t open unsolicited emails. If you do, don’t click on any links in them.
3. Never send money to an unknown party
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4. Protect your devices by using the most current operating systems, choosing two-factor authentication and using strong, unique passwords for every account.
5. Choose the strongest privacy settings for your social media accounts.
6. Keep yourself in-the-know about the latest scams.
7. Educate your kids about basic computer safety and privacy.
8. If you have elderly parents, talk to them about common scams and teach them to protect themselves.
9. If a government agency or a company calls and asks you to share personal information, tell them you’ll contact them on your own.
10. Never accept a job or pay for a purchase or service without researching the company involved.

You can keep up with all the latest financial scams by signing up for our weekly Fraud News & Alerts updates. Each week you’ll receive an email containing the latest cyber security news, tips and breach notifications.

You can also take advantage of our Identity Theft Recovery Services. Identity theft can happen to anyone, regardless of age or income, where you live or how careful you are. Our services help you manage identity fraud research, remediation and recovery.