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Protecting Your Life Savings from Scams

While you might think it’s just seniors falling for savings scams, young adults are also targeted. In a recent study by Social Catfish, the number of victims 20 and younger rose by nearly 2,500% in recent years. You can do something about it. Let’s look at these savings scams, how they work, and ways you can protect yourself and those you love.

Don’t Take the Bait

Imposter scams involve a person pretending to be from the IRS or other government agency, a tech support company promising to keep your computer safe, or a friend or relative in trouble and in need of funds. These imposters will ask you to pay them money to avoid foreclosure on your home, IRS audits, or loss of your life savings. They might even pose as a family member who is in big trouble if you don’t send them money immediately.

Gift card scams often start with a call or text from a person pretending to be someone you know or trust. They create urgency by telling you that you’re late on a payment or begging for the money to avoid being harmed or to get out of jail. They’ll demand you buy specific gift cards, call them back, and give them the numbers off the back of the card. Once you do, you’re out the money. According to the FTC, FBI, and other trustworthy sources, ONLY scammers will accept gift cards for payments.

Similarly, Bitcoin ATM scams, and phantom hacker scams, use voice-to-voice phone calls and emails to befriend you and earn your trust. They will pretend to be from your bank, credit union, or investment firm. They’ll pretend they’ve noticed possible fraud on your account and urge you to move your money to a Bitcoin ATM for safekeeping. If you fall for the urgency and emotional possibility of losing your life savings, it can cost you a lot of money.

Be Vigilant

The best way to stop scammers and criminals is to question everything. If you’re not sure of the authenticity of a call, email, or text, hang up. Then, call the person or institution back using contact information you know and trust. If it was a real call, they’ll be glad you took the time to confirm their identity.
Additional tips to avoid scams include:
• Never move money or transfer funds to “protect it.” If you’re worried about the safety of your savings, call your financial institution directly using the phone number on one of your statements or the back of your credit or debit card.

  • Anyone who asks for your account verification code(s) is a criminal.
  • Any company or person who tells you to keep their call/text/interaction a secret is a criminal.
  • Anyone who says “Don’t trust anyone” is untrustworthy.
  • Suspicious Amazon package calls/emails/texts are scams.
  • Any tech support popups you get are a scam.
  • If the FTC or other government agency promises money or a prize, it’s a scam.

Don’t Keep it a Secret

Falling for a scam can be embarrassing. However, not doing anything allows the criminals to continue their illegal activities. Anytime you or someone you know experiences a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. According to the FTC, every report can make a difference. Additionally, give us a call right away. We may be able to close and re-issue your credit and debit cards as well as put a freeze on your other accounts, just to be safe.