Learn How to Protect Yourself and Your Finances from Cyber Criminals

The rapid advancement of technology since the beginning of our world has presented humanity with many life-changing inventions and ways to improve our lives dramatically.  However, it has also made life much more comfortable for cybercriminals to scam people all over the world.  These criminals are the most dangerous type because they do not need to leave their homes to steal someone’s money.  The objective of this article is to make you more aware of some of the possible scams you may run into throughout your life, and teach you how to prevent these scam artists from getting what they want.

One of the most popular scams we see in today’s world is identity theft, more specifically with debit card fraud.  Your identity can be stolen in many different ways, but sometimes the easiest can be to gain access to your debit cards.  Here are some of the most common ways this can be done:

•    Skimming Devices - Designed to blend it with the machine it’s on, these devices are placed over any card reader, especially common with public ATM's or card readers at gas stations.  These skimmers collect the card information of any card put inside it, and afterward, the criminal can gain access to your data. 

•    Stolen Belongings - In this day and age, it is not enough to be aware of your surroundings.  Pickpockets get better every day, and it becomes harder for us to secure our belongings.  Sometimes, these criminals even work in teams.

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•    Fake Advertisements - Hackers/scammers know the internet like the back of their hand.  The creation of false pop up advertisements creates havoc for anyone who falls victim to it. One ordinary fake ad is the “FBI alert” that asks you to pay money for a crime you did not commit.

There is no easy solution to prevent debit card fraud, but always before using your card, check the card reader and pin pad for anything unusual. If you are unsure, go somewhere else to be safe.  Place your wallet in a place where if it gets taken, you will know it immediately.  Lastly, stop and think before you type your card information online, and ensure it is secure and safe first.

Next, we have an increasingly popular scam of check fraud/advance fee fraud. In this section, we will advise what these type of frauds look like and the dangers of being a victim.

•    Check Fraud - An example of this would be a fake job listing on Craigslist from someone who requires an assistant.  The person who answered the ad will be sent money via check, and then will be asked to deposit those funds and buy specific items. A few days later, that check will be deemed fraudulent, and now the victim owes their financial institution a large sum of money.

•    Advanced Fee Fraud - A scam that requires a person to pay an upfront fee to obtain services, goods or winnings that generally do not need an advanced payment. These scams can be seen in things such as fake lotteries or real estate scams.

These types of scams are easier to notice and prevent: do not deposit any check from an unknown person, and do not pay money to receive anything you should be getting for free.  If the situation seems shady or uncomfortable, do not hesitate to leave. It will save you and your financial institution a lot of stress.

Lastly, we see a worrying amount of wire fraud happening today as well. Wire fraud occurs in many different ways:

•    Sweetheart Scam - People on the internet are trying to take advantage of lonely people looking for love or a person to create a connection. Once they gain trust, these scammers ask to be sent large amounts of money to, for example, build a house for the both for them. After, the game either continues to be played, or the scammer is never heard from again.

•    Mortgage Fraud - There are two types of this being used: 1. Finding desperate people who are very behind on their mortgage, and offering reprieve through a loan modification or mortgage rescue schemes. 2. Scammers find that a house is about to be bought and contact the soon to be homeowners. Then, the scammers send them a fake email referencing an advanced fee of some sort that needs to be paid before closing on the house. 

People must remember one thing about wire frauds: they cannot be overturned! Once the money is transferred, it is gone and usually sent to an untraceable place.  It is imperative to think and verify the other party any time before sending money because you can never be too sure.  We understand that people aren’t perfect and tend to make mistakes from time to time.  Here at Inspire, we do everything we can to verify not only your real identity but information about the other party to ensure that the complete transaction is safe and valid. With the trust and assistance of Inspire Federal Credit Union, life becomes much easier when you know what scams to look out for and how to prevent them.