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5 Common Scams and How to Outsmart Them

April 15, 2022

RCU Fraud Watch

You may know how to protect yourself from scammers pretending they’re a foreign prince, or claiming you’ve won the lotto, but scammers are always trying new tactics to take your money.

The more you know about scammers and how they operate, the better you can protect yourself and your accounts. Here are 5 of the most common scams and top ways you can outsmart them.

  1. Spoofing: a scammer pretends to be a reputable company by faking their caller ID name and number. The scammers will often call several times in a row to make you think it’s urgent.

    Outsmart them: Don’t answer the phone, and if you do, don’t give out any personal or account information.
  2. Romance scams: a scammer pretends to be your perfect mate so you’ll send them money for things like plane tickets, medical expenses, or other reasons that will play to your sympathies.

    Outsmart them: Don’t send money to anyone you haven’t met in person—no matter how much you care about them.
  3. Tax/bill payment scam: a scammer says you owe taxes or other debts to scare you into sending them money. Often this includes threat of a warrant or other legal action to get you to act fast.

    Outsmart them: Never pay a company using gift cards. Big companies and government agencies don’t accept them as a form of payment.
  4. Free money scams: a scammer will offer to deposit money (or a "donation") into your account for no reason. Most of the time, they want you to deposit a check for them into your account.

    Outsmart them: Don’t give out your login info, and don’t deposit checks you weren’t expecting from people you don’t know well.
  5. Tech support scam: a scammer pretends to be a software or antivirus company and tries to convince you that your computer is at risk. They may ask you to install programs or give them access to your computer.

    Outsmart them: Don’t click on links, install software, or give anyone access to your computer. If you are concerned, take your computer to a reputable local company.

The simplest way to know when something may be a scam is to ask yourself, "Is this too good to be true?" If your answer is "yes" or even "maybe," immediately cut off contact with the potential scammer. If anyone you don’t know requests money, personal information, or access to your accounts, you have reason to be suspicious. Resist pressure to act immediately, and talk to someone you trust about what happened.

Help protect the people you care about by sharing these tips with them. And if you find yourself in any of these situations and are unsure what to do, please talk to us. Our branch and call center team are trained to recognize scams and are always ready to make sure you and your money are safe.