By Darius Kingsley, Managing Director of Business Practices, Chase
While financial fraud and scams have always been a problem, incidences are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission recently announced that reports of fraudulent activity among U.S. consumers has more than doubled in the last decade. Older adults are a prime target — people that are 60 years and older have reported higher median losses from fraud.
Unfortunately, consumers are falling victim to a variety of scams that are targeting consumers both young and old. To help protect you and your loved ones, here are some tips that can help you identify some of the most common scams to help keep your identity and finances safe.
Fraudulent Text Message Scams
This particular scam is tricky because it preys on consumers’ trust and reliance on their financial institutions’ fraud alert system. Consumers typically receive a fraud alert via text message that appears to come from their financial institution asking them to validate a certain purchase or if they’ve sent a certain amount of money. Because it is a scam, the consumer obviously denies it. They then get a call from someone claiming to be from their bank’s fraud team asking for their help to catch the bad guys.
To do this, the scammers ask the victim to share their banking username or password, one-time passcode, or to send money to themselves or a third party – all in hopes of trying to “stop” the fraud and catching the criminals. However, once the scammers have gained access to the person’s account or convinced them to send money, they cease contact and the victim’s money is gone.
As a rule of thumb, consumers should never share banking passwords or send money to someone who tells them that it will prevent fraud on their account. Bank employees will never call, text or email to ask for this information, but scammers will.
Sadly, older adults are often the target for financial scams. Unsuspecting consumers receive an email from someone claiming to be a grandchild or another relative explaining they’re in trouble and need money fast. Scammers hope that grandparents won’t think twice about helping their family in need. If this happens to you, your first course of action should be to always call that relative directly – don’t respond to the email. If you can’t reach them, contact someone else who may know their whereabouts and circumstances. Whatever you do, don’t send money, purchase gift cards or share any of your personal information, including your banking username and password. Scammers use threats and try to create a sense of urgency to trick you. Always trust your gut and end communication when something seems off.
Online Shopping Scams
Scammers set up fake websites or fake ads claiming to sell products but send out fake products — or nothing at all. How to stop them: beware of retailers claiming to sell luxury goods for unrealistic prices. Also, make sure to check independent reviews for a site you’ve never purchased from before. If a good deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. For example, if someone claims to be from a retailer and asks you to pay using gift cards, instead of your credit or debit card, it’s probably a scam. Also, always check the website to make sure it is a legitimate retailer with a secure check out process.
Someone will call or email you claiming to be from an organization you trust, like the Internal Revenue Service or your power company. They may threaten you by saying that if you don’t pay taxes or fees owed, they’ll bring a lawsuit against you, disconnect service or another urgent threat. If you think there’s truly a possibility that you owe money, don’t pay it to someone who initiates a call or email to you. Instead, hang up and call the organization in question directly.
Below are three valuable dos and don’ts for dealing with the latest scams.
- Educate yourself on the most common scams. Fraudsters will use anything to their advantage — claiming to be from the IRS, pretending to offer tech support, baiting you with prizes or cash winnings — the sky’s the limit!
- Monitor credit score for free with Chase Credit Journey — you don’t even need to be a Chase customer to sign up! It will notify you if your data is compromised. Plus, you’ll receive critical alerts that help protect your credit and identity.
- Review your accounts closely if you believe you may have fallen for a scam. With Chase, you can also set up account alerts so you can be notified of transactions on your account in real-time.
- Click on suspicious links on emails or texts unless you’re sure it’s from a credible source. Only access your accounts through the bank’s mobile app or their website.
- Share personal information. Neither Chase nor any other bank will ever ask for your username, password, ATM pin, etc. when reaching out to you.Banks may ask for this information only when you call to discuss your account.
- Transfer money to someone claiming to be from your bank. Banks will never ask to send money via wire, check or other method to “stop or prevent fraud.”
- Pay someone using gift cards, especially when they claim to need them to remove a virus from your computer, stop fraud on your account or to buy plane tickets to come visit you
Above all, you should trust your gut instinct. If something seems off, slow down to ask questions. Oftentimes, going “low tech” and going into your local bank branch can help answer any questions.
Darius Kingsley is the Head of Business Practices for JPMorgan Chase Consumer Banking. He is responsible for Chase’s consumer banking business practices, including sales practices, culture and conduct, and firmwide strategy for the protection of Chase’s elder and vulnerable customers.