At AmeriChoice we pride ourselves in providing the best products and services for our members. We also want to keep our members educated on the most prominent fraud tactics currently being used by scammers.
The term “phishing” pronounced “fishing” involves the use of fraudulent emails and copy-cat websites that try to fool you into revealing your personal information with them. Just remember, if it seems “too good to be true” – then it probably is.
Spotting/Avoiding Fraudulent Emails
- Avoid emails with subject lines saying that you’ve won a trip of a lifetime, because the sad truth is there are hidden motives behind the email and you probably have not won anything at all.
- Fraudulent emails often have an urgent tone and threaten account suspension if you don't update your information right away. Ignore the tone, delete the email, block the sender and most importantly, don’t click any links in the email!
- Avoid emails that begin with generalities like, “Dear Customer,” a legitimate company will not send spam emails.
- Keep an eye out for fictional personnel. If you want to find out if this person actually exists, call the company yourself, and do not use the phone number that is provided in the email.
Spotting/Avoiding Fraudulent Websites
- Poor spelling and grammar is a huge red flag! Companies spend a lot of money to make sure the artwork for their website is impeccable, as well as their content. Yes, mistakes do slip through sometimes, but there is a difference when a website is full of grammatical errors.
- Fraudsters will take on the names of real companies. Be sure to look at the logo of the company they are trying to copy and compare it to a legitimate one. Usually, scammers will make a logo of their own and do their best to copy the original one. It is best to check and see whether the site uses the most up-to-date logos on its brand pages. If not, the site is probably fake.
- One of the first signs that something may be wrong with a website is an incorrect address. Always check the address bar and verify that all is as it should be, any secure website should start with “http://”
The example above is a fake website. The correct URL for Lloyds TSB is http://www.lloydstsb.com
Red flags like these are always put right in front of our faces, and sometimes are completely overlooked. The best way you can protect yourself from phony phishers is to understand what legitimate financial service providers will and will not do. To prevent bank phishing and credit card phishing scams, you should personally check your statements regularly. Get monthly statements for your financial accounts and check each and every entry carefully to make sure that no fraudulent transactions have been made without your knowledge, and if so – contact your financial institution right away.
Cell Phone Scams
Now that we have become more technology privy, scammers are using a more personal route to get your information, and what’s more personal than a text to your cell phone these days? Not much. Like phishing scams, texts can be sent to your phone in order to push you to visit a certain website, which is most likely a phony one. Listed below are common types of text scams and the action you can take to avoid them.
Scammers can listen in on your calls and even download copies of your text messages if you give them a chance to! People who use Bluetooth can be targeted by nearby scammers who are also using Bluetooth. Those who are avid Bluetooth users should de-select the “discoverable” option on their devices, usually found in settings. Keep your password on your phone to protect it so people cannot install software on it.
Phony Text Messages
This one is very common. We have all gotten them, and they are the most obvious to spot and put an end to. An example of this (featured in asecurelife.com): “Each day, more than $40 Trillion Dollars changes hands worldwide. Reply STOP to Cancel For HELP call 18888906150.” You should reply STOP to the text message. This goes against the phishing scam rule in not replying to your sender, but doing so in a text message will stop any more texts coming from that number.
Not Your Phone Company?
You may get a call or text message from your service provider offering what they claim is a better deal than the one you have now, or even pressuring you to switch because your current deal is coming to an end. These can be tricky, but the first thing you should do is confirm that you are speaking with your service provider and ask the caller to give you some information about your current phone usage. If they can’t tell when you make your last phone call, they are not who they say they are.
What even is a card skimmer? Skimmers are small devices that can scan and store credit card data from the magnetic stripe. Crooks can install skimmers on a gas pump, or corrupt employees can have a skimmer stashed out of sight of customers.
Have you ever swiped your credit or debit card at a gas station pump? An ATM? A store in the mall? Your account information may be at risk, but there are ways to tell and avoid card skimmers.
To be clear, most advanced skimmers are nearly impossible to spot. Below are a few pictures with sample ATM and Gas Station skimmers and how they work. If you feel that the device you are about to use has been tampered with. Voice your concerns to the manager of the business.
With the many kinds of fraud that are prominent right now, it is important to stay up to date on ways to avoid fraud and identity theft. If you are contacted by a legitimate financial institution, they should never ask for your private personal information. If you are in a situation where you feel unsure of the validity of the person on the other end of the phone or computer, end contact immediately and reach out to the institution via their publicly listed phone number-not the number that is listed on the questionable email or text message. When YOU are the one who reaches out to your institution, you may be asked verifying information if you are requesting information about your accounts, but this is typically for security purposes and is not as in depth as giving ALL of your personal information, just a few things so that they know it is you they are speaking with.