Over the past several months, while so many of us were finding our new normal in remote working, criminals have been adjusting their strategies and finding ways to scam you out of your hard-earned money.
Money transfer fraud stories have been a common occurrence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scammers may be pretending to represent a company that you trust or convince you that a family member is in a fictional dire circumstance and needs you to wire them money them money to help. These scammers are tricky and will choose to reach out to you in any way they can. From phone calls, to emails or text messages, they are looking for your personal information.
No matter their approach, scammers do everything they can to trick consumers into handing over their money or personal information. The Federal Trade Commission reported that in 2019 there were more than 3.2 million scams, and we are confident that number has grown exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When we speak to individuals who have been taken advantage of by scammers, they often wonder what they could have done differently. If you are in a position where you have been scammed out of money, please know that there are steps that you can take. The security experts at Welch State Bank want to help you know what to do when you have been scammed out of money, how to recover money you lost, and ways in which you can protect yourself from fraudulent attempts.
Report the Scam
After you have had money taken from you, it’s important to first make sure that you have secured your account. Our experts recommend that you:
Notify Your Bank
Reach out to your home bank or credit card company immediately to report any suspicious activity or unauthorized charges. It is imperative that at this point you also cancel your debit card or credit card and request a new one.
If your financial institution is anything like Welch State Bank, they should have a Card and Fraud Resource Center for you to navigate how to go about taking action based on your situation.
- Bank with Welch State Bank?
- We can get your Welch State Bank debit card shut off and get a new one printed ready to go in minutes, right in a branch location!
- We also have CardValet, a 24/7-365 app that gives you access to control your Welch State Bank debit card. You can turn your debit card off/on, and report and fraudulent or unauthorized debit card charges. Just another great tool we offer so you can Bank Like You!
File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
Did you know that you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission? It’s true, and you should if you have been a victim of a scam. Not only can they help in making others aware of the issue or fraudulent business practices, but they can also potentially provide you with a refund as well. In 2019, the FTC issued more than $232 million in refunds to people who lost money to illegal business practices.
Scam Details are Important, So Document, Document, Document!
No matter what happened during your scam, it’s important to have extensive details written down so that you can help your bank and the Federal Trade Commission work to recover all fraudulent charges. Take notes, print whatever documents you can including your bank statement, and make sure you have copies of everything.
Attempting to recover money is a long process, and it’s important that you are patient in the process. It will not be quick to recover funds taken in a scam, but they will do their best to help you recover any stolen funds.
Secure Your Financial Accounts
After fraudulent attempts have been made, it’s important to protect your money from the potential fraudsters as their next action may be to open accounts in your name or take from other accounts you may have. These steps will help protect you:
- Reset Your Passwords
In the event that you are being scammed, we recommend resetting passwords that are associated with any of your financial information such as banking, or online shopping sites. When you do this, choose a password that is unique and strong, having at least 7 characters and have no personal information as part of it, for example: JS5^ks0)wpo254G. Then keep these passwords in a safe spot where you are go back to them at a later date.
- Set Up Alerts for Your Bank Accounts
Consider setting up alerts with for your bank account. For example, at Welch State Bank we offer our customers free CardValet service which helps protect you against debit card Fraud 24/7 with alerts, set customer spending limits, the ability to track card usage and transactions, as well as turning your cards off and on.
- Freeze Your Credit
Most often when scammers get your money, they also get your personal information as well. We recommend placing a credit freeze on your credit report to help restrict scammer’s access to securing loans or lines of credit in your name. In order to freeze your credit, you must contact all major credit reporting organizations such as TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You can place a temporary or permanent freeze on your credit.
- Put a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report
Should you decide not freeze your credit report, another great option in keeping your information safe is to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Just know that there is no reason to do both this and a freeze on your credit report.Unlike a credit freeze, which locks your credit, a fraud alert can help prevent future fraud because it will require credit organizations to take extra steps to identify who you are when opening a new line of credit.
As with a credit freeze, we recommend contacting the credit report companies, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, for assistance with this task. Just remember, this method may stop someone from opening a new line of credit in your name, but it is not guaranteed.
Learn to Identify Scams
It is important to know about scams in order to prevent yourself from losing more money over time. Here are tips to help you accomplish that.
Be Aware of Pushy Callers
The number one way in which individuals were scammed according to the Federal Trade Commission’s 2019 report was from callers that ask you to spend money immediately. If they try to enforce a sense of urgency, it is most likely a scam.
Watch for Phishing Emails
Scammers love to send phishing emails to attempt to gather your personal information. They may directly ask for it, or suggest you download a malicious software program. These emails are often full of bad grammar or spelling errors, so pay attention to that as you are trying to decide if the email is real or not.
We hope this information will help you should you have been scammed, or to help you stay knowledgeable in order to prevent scams from taking place. No matter the situation, know that at Welch State Bank we are here for you. We have your back and we want to ensure that your money stays safe as possible while in our hands.