Tips to Guard Against Fraud

April 04, 2024

In 2023, consumers reported losing more than $10 billion to fraud.1 And fraud is hitting all demographics. For instance, a growing trend shows Gen Z adults (20-29) are getting scammed more often than older adults. Social media scams had the highest losses, with a total of $1.4 billion reported.1

Here are some top scams to steer clear of.

Impersonation Scams
Impersonation scams rely on impersonating practically anybody you can think of, friends, family, financial institutions, the IRS, sheriff's department, charities.

They'll often spoof familiar phone numbers, so you'll assume they're coming from a legitimate source. While the scams vary, they rely on creating a sense of urgency to get you to hand over sensitive financial data or money.

How to protect yourself:

  • Verify independently the companies or individuals trying to contact you are who they say they are.
  • Never give out passwords or other personal information to anyone.
  • Delete emails or SMS texts instructing you to click hyperlinks.
  • Don't trust unexpected calls about fraudulent activity. Contact the fraud department listed on a company's website for more information.

No legitimate business or government agency will text, email, call or contact you via social media to demand payment for something, whatever that something may be.

Cryptocurrency Scams
Cryptocurrency is digital currency consumers buy as an investment or to purchase things. Cryptocurrency doesn't require financial institutions to verify transactions, so fraudsters use it to steal money or financial information.

A top scam is pressuring you to invest in a new type of crypto where you can make a lot of money before you have time to determine if it's legitimate or not. Another scam is to use phishing or other fraudulent methods to access a user's crypto or digital wallet and credentials.

IT Repair Scams
Tech scammers try to convince you your computer needs repairs or it's infected with some kind of virus. They may contact you via emails, phone calls, texts and even pop-up messages. They'll then try to get you to pay for the services with gift cards, or credit or debit cards.

How to protect yourself:

  • Know that legitimate tech companies will never contact you about problems with your computer.
  • Never provide personal information like user names and passwords.
  • If you suspect something is wrong with your computer, update your security software and run a scan.
  • Don't install remote access software such as TeamViewer or AnyDesk. Fraudsters use it to access your devices and data.

Romance Scams
Scammers rely on the promise of true love to separate you from your hard-earned money. They create phony profiles on apps and dating sites. Their lies vary, often using excuses of why they can't meet in person. The next step is asking for money for some type of emergency and then providing ways to send it, including wiring money or sending gift cards.

How to protect yourself:

  • Never send money to someone you’ve never met.
  • Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to see if the details match to someone else.
  • Search job titles and details that may be associated with scams, such as U.S. Army scams.

Gift Card Scams
Like other scams, crooks rely on urgency to get you to respond to their varied requests.

The scammer will ask you to buy gift cards at major merchants or Google or Apple. Then they'll ask for the gift card numbers and PINs. When you do this, they can access the funds, even if you have the cards in your possession. They may even ask you to deposit a check for them greater than the amount requested and ask you to pay back the difference on a gift card.

How to protect yourself:

  • The IRS or other entities would never use gift cards as payment.
  • Report the scam to the gift card issuer and ask for your money back. Some may help, some may not, but it's always worth asking.


 1. Source: Federal Trade Commission