- Asks you to wire money or share your credit card number with them, claiming they’ll pay you back
- Asks you to sign a document giving them control of your finances or home
- Asks you to open a joint account with them
- Asks for access to your bank
The FTC says a quarter of scammers last year requested gift cards, and they’ve also seen a rise in those asking for cryptocurrency payments. Of course none of us would like to think we’d fall victim to one of these scams, but it’s important to remember that most scammers are quite experienced at influencing people. An online romance scam should be reported to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
For all types of identity theft, the FTC provides great resources at identitytheft.gov. They’ll help you report a theft and walk you through next steps. One of the major things you can do to help prevent identity theft is to place a freeze on your credit reports at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. When your credit records are frozen, anyone trying to open credit in your name will be denied. If you are planning to apply for new credit, you must call or go online to temporarily lift the freezes. It might be a bit of a hassle, but it’s helpful for peace of mind and could potentially protect you from a financial loss. In SC, it is free to freeze your credit at the three bureaus, and you can do this online, by mail, or by calling each (Equifax: 888-298-0045, Experian 888-397-3742, TransUnion 888-909-8872).
Another step you can take to protect yourself is to check your accounts regularly. Keep an eye on your bank and credit card transactions, and check your credit reports annually. If you see any unauthorized transactions, call the financial institution immediately. You can get a free copy of each of your 3 credit reports every year (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Also, it’s always important to make sure the website you’re visiting is the authentic one. Never click on a link in an email – always visit the site directly. Scammers can create websites that look almost identical to the real thing, and often use misleading website addresses that also seem legitimate.
As this letter is going out on Valentine's Day, you’ll likely receive it a few days later. However, I hope that all of you enjoyed the holiday and that you’re surrounded by love this week and always. If you have questions about identity theft, our privacy policies, or anything else, give us a call.
Libby Anderson, CFP®