10 Tips to Avoid Scams

As an Iowa Fraud Fighter, we encourage you to use these tips to protect yourself and your loved ones from investment, consumer and Medicare fraud.

  1. You don’t have to be Iowa nice. It’s OK to say no and hang up. If you do not recognize the incoming phone number, don’t answer it and don’t press any buttons. Let it go to voicemail. Don’t let robocallers know they’ve reached an active phone number.
  2. Never give out your personal or financial information. If you did not initiate the call, do not give out your Social Security or Medicare number, or any financial account numbers. The same goes for your date of birth and passwords.
  3. If it sounds too good to be true, it is probably neither good nor true. Never pay for a prize. Scammers offer sweepstakes winnings, but insist you need to pay a fee to receive it first. They often ask for the fee in gift cards that are not traceable. If you have to pay for a prize, it is not a prize.
  4. If it’s only good for today, walk away. Take the time you need to research, ask questions, get advice from a trusted friend or relative and learn more before investing. Scammers use urgency to force consumers into rash decisions. Resist the pressure to act quickly or secretly.
  5. Monitor your money. Insist on receiving regular reports on your investments. Monitor your bank accounts, credit card statements and medical bill statements. Dispute suspicious charges.
  6. Consider Freezing Your Credit. Monitor your credit score from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year is a good way to catch identity theft early. The best way to protect your credit is placing a security freeze on your credit report, free of charge.
  7. Watch out for salespeople who prey on your emotions. Scammers use excitement (prize winner), fear (arrest) and pull at your heart strings to gain trust and get you to act (online romance scams). If they are asking for money and playing upon your emotions, stop, think and call our government agency for help.
  8. Be careful what you share. Whether you enjoy posting about vacations or sharing an anecdote about your life, be mindful of the details you share online. Many scammers use social media to help choose their targets. They even spoof their phone number to make it look like the call is coming from the same area code you reside.
  9. Watch out for reload scams. If you lost money once, do not let scammers trick you into trying to recoup it. Once a con artist has successfully victimized you, they sell your information to other scammers to also perpetrate you.
  10. Don’t be embarrassed to report fraud. Reporting fraud is a responsible step in handling your finances, so don’t be afraid or embarrassed to report it if you are victimized. It’s the only way we can stop scammers from trying to scam you again or defrauding your friends or neighbors. Even if you suspect someone may have tried to scam you, please report it. Click here to find reporting information.
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