Protect yourself from fraud
What can you do about robocalls?
Another scam technique is the robocall. These phone calls are automatically generated and typically include a recorded message warning you to return the call or face the threat of fines or an arrest.
Fake IRS and SSA phone calls have cost many Americans thousands of dollars. Because fraud against taxpayers is so common, the IRS provides scam alerts to keep consumers informed and the SSA publishes information on more general government imposter scams.
You may receive robocalls regarding health and safety, unemployment benefits, security breaches, even your mortgage. These calls can sound threatening and urge you to contact the caller to verify your information. Unfortunately, some frightened people may call back and surrender their private information or financial records.
If the government or your lenders need to communicate, they will contact you directly — either by the US postal service or by email, text or a phone call from a real person if you have opted to receive information that way.
A look at scams by text
Text scams are relatively new. Like email phishing scams, these deceptive text messages may encourage you to click on a link, which will then request that you provide personal information, such as your Social Security number or credit card number.
If you receive a text from an unrecognized number, delete it immediately or do an internet search to find out more about the source. Do not click on any links or respond.
In times of crisis, local governments might send a text notification, but these are general, informational announcements that will never ask you to divulge private information.
How else can you protect yourself?
Having a good awareness of the scams that tend to increase during times of crisis is your first line of defense. Here are a few other tips you can use to help you avoid scams:
- Be aware of charity-related scams. Make sure that the charity you are considering is legitimate before donating.
- Get information about public health directly from trusted sources, such as the CDC, the World Health Organization and other local and national authorities.
- Watch out for medical charlatans and health treatments and cures that are sold online during public health emergencies. They may not do what they say they'll do.
- Keep an eye out for fraudulent unemployment claims filed in your name.
- Make your accounts stronger by adding a secret code word and sign up for fraud alerts.