The goal of many con artists is the acquisition of financial information that can allow them to victimize unsuspecting individuals. A con artist often targets specific groups of people who possess certain characteristics and attributes that will make the fraud easier to execute, like age and financial stability, but anyone can be a target of con artists. Below is some great information to help safeguard you and your financial information against fraud.
Targeting in Multiple Ways
A con artist generally has multiple approaches to conning people out of money. Con artists most often use the U.S. Mail, telephone and phishing emails to lure unsuspecting victims to the con.
The telemarketing scam entails a con artist calling an unsuspecting person and trying to sell a product or service that does not exist. To make the telemarketing scam successful, the con artist aims for people who will likely believe the sales pitch or may fear they will miss a great opportunity.
The telemarketing scam can play out in one of a few ways. First, the telemarketer may push the person who answers the phone to make a hasty decision by stating an offer is good for a limited time, so quick action is required to benefit from the deal. Another scam involves an individual receiving phone calls announcing they have won a trip, lottery, sweepstakes or other valuable prize. The caller then tries to elicit personal information, including banking details. In reality, there is no trip and no prize, and people who relinquish their bank information are exposed to the possibility of their accounts being accessed without their authority. Contact your bank immediately if you believe you have given sensitive information to a potential con artist.
People who do not collect their mail consistently are prime targets of these scams, as mail has important information like bank account numbers, credit card account numbers and personal information which can easily be stolen without their knowledge. When con artists gain access to this information, they will make their plans for the potential scam. Mail scams involve either stealing bank or other financial information or sending an invitation to claim a prize.
Arming Yourself with Knowledge
To protect yourself from scams and other types of fraud, knowledge is necessary. Knowing what to watch for is half the battle. Here is some helpful information to keep in mind to avoid becoming a victim of financial crime:Mail Fraud
- Use electronic bill pay services instead of mailing checks.
- Enroll in your bank’s daily activity notice feature.
- Remove the mail from your box every day. If you are traveling, have your mail held until you return.
- Notify your post office of a change of address immediately.
- Use U.S. Postal Service mailboxes inside facilities to send mail.
- Ask a trusted neighbor to take in your mail when you are unavailable to do so yourself.
- Consider receiving statements containing financial information via your secure email.
- Contact the issuer of a check if you do not receive it in a timely fashion. If you suspect someone has stolen your mail, report it immediately to the Postmaster.
By reducing the opportunities for con artists to gather your financial information, it is less likely you will become the victim of fraud.
Stopping Telemarketing Fraud
When you receive a telemarketing call, listen for these key words or phrases that indicate you need to end the call.
- “You need to act now to get this deal.”
- “The offer is only good for a short time.”
- “You cannot miss this offer.”
- “You have won a free (prize, gift, vacation, etc.).”
The caller will often ask you to provide personal information including the name of your bank and account number. Never answer questions about personal information over the phone, simply tell the caller that you are not interested and hang up.
More Helpful Information
It is important to monitor your bank statements and credit card transactions for any unauthorized charges on a daily basis, if possible. If you find anything suspicious, report it to the bank, credit card company and the appropriate authorities. If telemarketers continually call you, add your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov. If the telemarketer ignores the “Do Not Call Registry” you can report them via the complaints section of donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222. If you think that you are a victim of a scam, con or fraud, take action and report the incident immediately to NJ Consumer Affairs, https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/.
Thomas Foschini is the Security Officer at Oritani Bank headquartered in Washington Township, NJ. Tom utilizes his valuable law enforcement experience to investigate fraud as well as developing, implementing and administering all aspects of the Bank’s Security and Safety Programs by acting as a liaison between Bank personnel and law enforcement authorities when responding to robberies or other crimes.