Common Financial Scams to Avoid
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Financial fraud can happen to anyone at any time. While some forms of financial fraud, such as massive data breaches, are out of your control, there are many ways you can proactively reduce your exposure to financial scams and identity theft.

Here are some of the most common financial scams, along with ways to identify them early and how you can protect yourself.

Phishing

Using this common tactic, scammers send an email that appears to come from a financial institution, such as your bank, and asks you to click on a link to update your account information. If you receive any correspondence that asks for your information, never click on the links or provide account details. Instead, visit the company’s website, find official contact information, and call them to verify the request.

“Be very aware. If you are not expecting communication from a financial institution, that is your first clue,” says Don White, Executive Vice President, Regions Corporate Security. “A bank is never going to ask you for confidential information through an open source like email.”

Social Media Scams

Scammers are adept at using social media. Be conscious of what information you post online — especially upcoming vacations that leave your home unoccupied. Scammers use social media posts to gather information about the traveling habits of potential victims. Scammers also have social media phishing tactics, including posts seeking charity donations with bogus links which allow them to keep your money.

Phone Scams

Another prevalent tactic is scamming phone calls. These scammers pose as a government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service or local law enforcement agencies, and use scare tactics to acquire your personal information and account numbers.

“Scammers are taking every measure that they can to intimidate you with their calls,” White says. “They start taking over your confidence.”

They may say you have overdue taxes or unpaid parking tickets, threaten you with jail time or additional fines, and then ask for your bank account information. Never provide your account information over the phone. Look up the agency’s contact information, and call them to verify any request. Federal government agencies will never text or call you to ask for money.

Stolen Credit Card Numbers

There are numerous ways that scammers can obtain your credit card information, including hacking, phishing, and the use of skimming devices — small card readers attached to unmanned credit card readers, such as ATMs, gas pumps, and more. These small devices pull data from your card when you swipe it.

You can’t always prevent your debit or credit card information from being compromised, but you can take steps to minimize your risk. Before you use an ATM or swipe your card at a gas pump, look for suspicious devices that may be attached to the card reader.

Identity Theft

Depending on the amount of information a scammer is able to obtain, identity theft may extend beyond unauthorized charges on a debit or credit card. If scammers are able to obtain your Social Security number, date of birth, and other personal information, they may be able to open new accounts in your name without your knowledge. Be aware of information you share and with whom, and always shred sensitive information before disposing of it.

Monitor your credit activity regularly so you can catch errors as quickly as possible. You are eligible to receive your free credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies every 12 months. Make sure to request your report from a reputable source such as AnnualCreditReport.com, and be wary of lookalike sites that charge a fee for the report.

By taking preventative measures and being aware of scams, you can minimize the risks of fraud. Monitoring your online or mobile banking accounts daily can also help you see fraudulent charges quickly. If you believe you may have been the victim of a financial scam, contact your local Regions branch or call 1-800-734-4667 to report fraudulent activity.

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This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented. Information provided and statements made by employees of Regions should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.