June 15, 2023 | Article | 5 min Personal insights
Have you ever received a call from someone pretending to be from a business, bank, or government agency, but it turned out to be a SCAM? These are called “imposter scams”, and they are one of the fastest growing and most devastating schemes out there today. Read on to learn more about imposter scams and how to protect yourself.
Fraudsters will use any angle they can to steal your hard-earned money, including pretending to be from a well-known business, your bank, or even from the government. You might get a pop-up on your computer telling you there is a virus and you must call this number, or a text message on your phone saying there is an unusual charge on your account. Someone might even call you and say they’re from the police or Social Security Administration and you need to pay a fine. All of these are ways fraudsters have initiated conversations with their victims… and proceeded to ask for money.
There are many ways imposter scams unfold, but generally they like to use funds transfers such as Zelle®1, as well as gift cards and wired funds, to get your money. Zelle is a hot target for imposter scams, so make sure you’re using the service carefully and only send money to people you know and trust.
Think that call or message is a little strange?
Look out for these red flags:
- The person contacting you is overly pushy or aggressive.
- They insist there's no way to fix the problem other than following their instructions.
- It doesn’t make sense – why you would get this kind of call?
How To Protect Yourself
- PAUSE before taking action. If you receive a communication that causes a strong emotional response, pause and take a deep breath. Hang up or ignore the message – they’re relying on a false sense of urgency so you won’t think it through. Talk to someone you trust or call your bank at a known number to talk through what might be happening.
- Transfer funds only to people you know or businesses you’re truly working with. A cold call from a large corporation is very likely a scam. Never pay a caller who insists you pay with a gift card, cryptocurrency, wire transfer, money transfer, or by mailing cash.
- Be skeptical. If you think a real law enforcement officer is trying to reach you, call your local law enforcement using a non-emergency number to verify. Do not believe scammers who “transfer” your call to an official or who feed you a number as proof. Scammers can create fake numbers and identities. Do not trust your caller ID.
- Do not click on links or attachments. Call your bank using the number on the back of your debit card. If there is truly a problem or an unauthorized charge, they will be able to help you.
Bottom line - Be cautious of any unexpected call or message, telling you about a problem you don’t recognize. Do not provide your personal information, even if the caller has some of your information. And do not send funds via Zelle to anyone you don’t know personally.
For more information on safeguarding your accounts, current scams and schemes, and security advice, visit your bank’s Fraud Prevention page.
1U.S. checking or savings account required to use Zelle®. Transactions between enrolled consumers typically occur in minutes. In order to send payment requests or split payment requests to a U.S. mobile number, the mobile number must already be enrolled with Zelle. Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions apply. Zelle and the Zelle-related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.