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How to Identify and Avoid Imposter Scams

Published November 14, 2023

In today’s digital world, we always have access to our online accounts. While these advancements have increased convenience, it also exposes us to potential threats. Scams have become an unfortunate reality that can affect anyone. The Federal Trade Commission reported that $8.8 billion was lost to fraud in 2022, rising 30 percent since the previous year.

You have probably heard of the most common scams:

  1. Imposter
  2. Online Shopping
  3. Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries
  4. Investment
  5. Business and Job Opportunities
  6. Romance

Reported most frequently, imposter scams affect both individuals and businesses. Learn the common warning signs and how to protect yourself from imposter scams.

How to Identify Imposter Scams

Have you ever received a suspicious phone call, text, social media message, pop-up message, or email? It could be an imposter scam. These scammers will try to convince you that they are someone of authority to try and get you to send them money or give them access to your digital device, bank account, or other personal information.

These scammers may pose as

  • Debt collectors
  • Business contacts
  • Government agency officials
  • Lawyers
  • Supervisors or someone in your company’s C-Suite
  • Tech support agents
  • Celebrities
  • Family members
  • Friends

To prove their legitimacy, these scammers could mimic the caller ID of an official government entity or business and use the email signature of someone you know. The fraud message usually contains “urgent” information such as a compromised account, a detected computer virus, an unpaid bill, a call for help, or claiming a prize.

Once they get your attention, these imposter scammers will try to get you to make quick decisions that could potentially leave you vulnerable.

6 ways to avoid falling for an imposer scam blue infographic.
Avoid falling for an imposter scam by following these six tips.

Avoiding Imposter Scams

Minimize the impact of fraud and protect yourself from imposter scams by

  • Not opening suspicious emails/messages or clicking any links from unverified sources
  • Confirming identities by checking official phone numbers, email addresses, previous invoices, and legitimate websites
  • Not sending any money or gift cards
  • Not relying solely on caller ID or email signatures
  • Slowing down and resisting the pressure to act
  • Telling someone you trust about the situation

For additional resources on shielding yourself from fraud, visit consumer.ftc.gov/scams.

Be a hero. Fight fraud. Fraud Awareness Week Nov 12-18, 2023 blue superhero themed graphic.
Source: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Inc.

How to Report

Celebrate International Fraud Awareness Week by protecting your account, learning the signs of a scam, and reporting any potential threats.

You can report a scam to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact us at 1(800) 442-4576 or speak with a Member Service Representative. Remember to do your research on scams to be aware of the warning signs to protect yourself and your finances.

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