How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of False Pretenses

Always Know Who You Are Dealing with

Try to find out the physical address of a seller or caller. With Internet based phone services (VOIP) and other readily available software, phone numbers can easily be "spoofed." This means that bad guys can make any number appear on your caller ID. It's often difficult to determine where they are physically located. Do online searches with the information you are provided and look for reviews. Often, there will be user experiences posted.

Always Treat All Transactions like They Were Cash Transactions

Most scammers will insist that you wire money or use prepaid money cards for payment. Often, they receive the money overseas and it is virtually impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money.

Always Read Your Monthly Statements

If you notice any charges you do not recognize, contact your bank, card issuer or other creditor immediately.

Never Wire Money to Strangers

You should never wire money to sellers who INSIST on wire transfers for payment. If a distant relative claims to be in an emergency and requests wired payment, you should always check with other family members first. This is an often used scam where money is transferred overseas.

Never Agree to Deposit a Check and Wire Money Back

Banks are required to make funds deposited from checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. You are responsible for the checks you deposit and are often responsible for paying back to the bank. Someone who overpays you with a check is almost certainly a scam artist.

Never Reply to Messages Asking for Personal or Financial Information

Whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, text message or pop-up ad on your electronic device, your information should never be provided. This is called "phishing." Scam artists are trying to trick you into providing this information so that they can create accounts in your name.