Scammers call you on the phone, send you mail, go after you online and even show up to your front door.
They’re relentless and each year, millions of Americans report being victims of financial scams.
The Federal Trade Commission got more than 2.5 million scam reports in 2017, with the average person losing close to $500.
The top reported scams were imposter scams, where someone poses as a relative, government employee or tech support representative. Their goal is to get access to your credit card.
Your credit card, like your Social Security number, needs to be protected.
Do not freely give it out.
There are things you can do to protect yourself, should your credit card number ever be compromised.
“There are ways you can go in and set up alerts. If there is a charge that’s over a certain dollar amount, it would alert you. Or let’s say if it’s made out of state or even out of the country then it would alert you,” said Kirsten Schriner, a Small Business Advisor for Pinnacle Bank.
Kirsten Schriner is a financial advisor at Pinnacle Bank. She said credit card fraud is rampant and it’s important for people to have the chip because it adds another layer of protection, just like the alerts.
READ: FTC Scam alerts
The FTC recommends the following to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
- Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
- Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
- Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
- Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
- Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit or Vanilla. Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.
- Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
- Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
- Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.