11 Tips to Help Protect Yourself From Scammers

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Scammers are always looking for new ways to trick and take advantage of people. And unfortunately, during this uncertain time, they don’t seem to be taking a break. Instead, they are doubling down on their unscrupulous practices.

You can help protect yourself from these scams if you keep these tips and best practices in mind.

Watch Out for Stimulus Check Scams

You don’t need to pay anyone to “sign up” for your Economic Impact Payment. Anyone who tries to convince you that you do is a scammer. If you need to check the status of your payment or more information, go directly to irs.gov/coronavirus. Remember, the IRS will not call, text or email you asking for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card number.

Be Cautious When You Buy Online

Some online sellers claim they have in-demand products like household cleaning and medical supplies, when they really don’t. Make sure you always buy from reputable retailers when shopping online. Before you order from a new site, do your research by looking at reviews and business ratings. Also, make sure the website and transaction are secure, look for “https” in the URL and a small lock icon in the address bar.

Ignore Offers for Vaccinations and Cures

Whether they are claiming teas, essential oils, colloidal silver or another “treatment” will prevent or cure the coronavirus, scammers are trying to dupe people with their bogus and unproven claims. Remember, currently, there is no proven or approved vaccine, drug or product on the market that can cure or prevent this virus. Don’t send your money or give your personal information to anyone who says they have one.

Be Wary of “Investment Opportunities”

Scammers are using false advertising and deceptive practices to encourage people to urgently get involved with “money-making” investment or business schemes and unwittingly lose money in the process. Make sure to take time to research any opportunity you are considering.

Do Your Homework Before Donating

Whether it is through a charity or crowdfunding website, do your research to make sure your donation is going to who you’d like to help and not a scammer. Also, remember if someone pressures you to make a rushed decision or send your donation via cash, gift card or wire transfer, don’t do it.

Be Skeptical of Incoming Calls

No matter what number appears on your caller ID, be cautious. Scammers can utilize call spoofing technology to impersonate people and organizations you trust. If the caller asks you to give or verify any of your personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth or debit card information, hang up. If a suspicious caller identifies themselves as a Pinnacle Bank representative, after hanging up, call your local branch as soon as possible to confirm the legitimacy of the call.

Beware of Disguised Money Mule Scams

Whether it’s by touting work-from-home promises, impersonating the IRS or something else, the premise of this scam starts with the scammer sending you money, usually via a fake check. Then they ask you to send part of the money back or to someone else using a wire transfer or gift card. They may make up an excuse that sounds reasonable to explain why. But this is all a scam. If you deposit the scammer’s check, it might clear initially. But later, when the bank finds out it’s fake, you will be responsible for repaying the money.

Don’t Click Links or Open Attachments in Unfamiliar Texts or Emails

Scammers are sending messages disguised as government and health organizations hoping to trick you. Opening these could put your device and identity at risk. They may download malware or link you to a spoofed website to steal your information. If you receive an email or text of this kind, do not click through, instead visit the organization’s official website by typing the address in your web browser.

Hang Up On Robocalls

Scammers are using robocalls to pitch everything from scam coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. If you answer the phone to a recorded sales pitch, hang up immediately. Do not press any numbers to be connected to a live operator or to be removed from the call list. Doing so could lead to more calls.

Always Use Secure, Traceable Transactions

If someone insists you pay by wire transfer, gift card or another non-traditional payment method, do not send the payment. Scammers use this tactic because, like cash, wire transfers and gift cards are basically untraceable, meaning they will probably just take your money and disappear.

Use Caution When You Share on Social Media

Make sure to use privacy settings and to be careful about what information you share online. Don’t feature any information you use as answers for security questions or share any of your personal or financial information on your profile.

We hope these tips help you avoid scammers and keep yourself safe. Above all else, we’d like you to remember these key takeaways:

1. Stay vigilant.

2. Take your time making decisions.

3. Protect your personal information.

Don’t forget we are always here to help answer your questions if you suspect fraud on your account or want to learn more about how to protect yourself and your accounts. A great way to get started today is to sign up for online and mobile banking to check your accounts regularly and to utilize our new CardControl app to manage and monitor your transactions.