In recent years, financial scams have become a big concern for many of us. Common financial scams can range from phishing emails pretending to be from your bank to investment schemes that promise “too good to be true” returns. While these scams can target anyone, they often prey on those who may be less familiar with technology including senior citizens.

When you fall for one of these scams, it’s not just about losing cash. It can hit you hard emotionally, mess up your credit score, and make it tough to trust banks and financial services again. In this blog, we’ll shed light on these financial scams. We’ll also discuss common signs to watch out for and what steps to take if you think you’ve been the victim of a scam.

Common signs of a financial scam

Recognizing a financial scam is challenging, but certain signs often stand out, warning you to exercise caution. Here are some key red flags to look out for:

Sounds too good to be true

If an offer sounds too good to be true, like a guaranteed investment that promises extraordinary returns with no risk, it’s likely a scam. Investments always carry some risk, and those that offer high returns usually come with equally high risks.

Request for personal information 

Be cautious if someone asks for your personal or financial information through unsolicited emails, phone calls, or messages. Legitimate organizations typically don’t request sensitive data through insecure channels like these. Always verify the request through official, secure channels.

Creating a sense of urgency

As part of their financial exploitation tactics, scammers often create a sense of urgency or pressure you to act quickly. They might say things like, ‘this offer ends today!’ or ‘limited spots available!’ Remember, legitimate opportunities will still be available tomorrow or next week.

Unusual payment methods 

If you’re asked to pay using methods like gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency, be suspicious. Reputable businesses usually accept payments through established and secure means, like credit cards or PayPal.

Grammar and spelling mistakes 

Watch out for poorly written emails, messages, or websites. Legitimate organizations maintain professional communication standards without glaring grammar mistakes or misspellings. Scammers often rush their messages and make errors.

Unknown sender or caller

If you receive communication from an unknown or suspicious source, be cautious. Genuine businesses have recognizable names and contact information. If something seems off, verify the authenticity through official websites or customer service.

Lack of legal information

Trustworthy organizations provide clear and accessible legal information, including terms and conditions, privacy policies, and licensing details. If a website or offer lacks this important information or makes it hard to find, it’s a warning sign that it might not be legitimate.

What to do if you think you’ve been the victim of a financial scam

If you believe you’ve been the victim of a money scam, we encourage you to take the following steps:

  • Stay calm: First and foremost, try not to panic. Scams can be scary, but a clear head is crucial. Assess the situation and gather all the information you have about the potential fraud.
  • Cease communication: If you suspect an ongoing scam, stop communicating with the scammer immediately.
  • Document everything: Record all correspondence, emails, messages, or phone calls related to the suspected scam. These records can be essential for reporting the incident and potentially recovering lost funds.
  • Contact your financial institution: If you shared financial information or made transactions, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
  • File a report: Report the scam to your local authorities, such as the police or consumer protection agencies.
  • Notify anti-fraud agencies: Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The information you provide can help combat fraud and protect others.
  • Update your security measures: Change passwords for all your online accounts, including banking, email, and social media. Use strong, unique passwords for each account and consider enabling two-factor authentication for added security.

Financial scams have become a significant concern in recent years and include a range of deceptive tactics. Recognizing red flags, such as offers that seem too good to be true, requests for personal information, artificial urgency, and unusual payment methods, can help you avoid falling victim to scammers. If you believe you’ve been the victim of a financial scam, it’s important to stay calm, cease communication, and report the incident to authorities and the FTC.

If you’re a member of F&M Bank and suspect you’ve been targeted by financial criminals or fallen victim to a scam, we’re here to assist you.

Please reach out to us today.