FDIC Consumer News: Beware, It’s a Scam!

Avoid phishing, smishing, vishing, and other scams

FDIC Consumer News – October 2020

Criminals are constantly trying to steal consumers’ personal data using fake emails, websites, phone calls, and even text messages. They use a variety of ways to try to trick people into providing Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other valuable information. In many cases, their goal is to steal money from you. This article defines some terms used for different online scams and how they work, so you can protect your money.

How do scammers contact their victims?

Phishing is a term for scams commonly used when a criminal uses email to ask you to provide personal financial information. The sender pretends to be from a bank, a retail store, or government agency and makes the email appear legitimate. Criminals often try to threaten, even frighten people by stating “you’re a victim of fraud” or some other urgent-sounding message to trick you into providing information without thinking. Don’t do it.

Smishing is similar to phishing, but instead of using email, the criminal uses text messaging to reach you. Same idea, they pretend they are from an organization you might know and trust (such as a bank or the IRS) and try to get your personal information.

Vishing, similar to phishing and smishing, is when scammers use phone services such as a live phone call, a “robocall,” or a voicemail to try to trick you into providing personal information by sounding like a legitimate business or government official.

What are the different types of scams? scams


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Technology is both a blessing and a curse.  It helps us to stay in touch with our family, friends and the world.  But it also exposes us to dangers that our parents never contemplated.  People we never met, who live on the other side of the world and don’t know us can steal our lives.  Keep informed on the latest scams.  Keep your technology updated, or don’t use it at all (those are your only two choices).

Use your common sense (this is a theme you see throughout all my Musings). Remember P.T. Barnum’s “quote” (but there is no evidence he actually said this) “there is a sucker born every minute”.  Don’t be that sucker.

– Diane L. Drain
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