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National Slam the Scam Day

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National Slam the Scam Day

March is We all would like to believe that we would never fall victim to a financial scam, but modern scammers are getting increasingly clever and sophisticated about their approach.

That’s why the Social Security Administration and financial institutions across the country are joining together for National Slam the Scam Day on Thursday, March 9, 2023, to raise awareness and prevent scammers from succeeding in their crimes.

In honor of this day and National Consumer Protection Week (March 5-11), we’re here to give you some tools to recognize Social Security-related scams and other common ways that scammers and con artists can steal your money and personal information. Feel free to share this information with your loved ones because together we can Slam the Scam!

How to recognize the four basic signs of a scam:

  • Scammers pretend to be from a familiar organization or agency, like the Social Security Administration. They may email attachments with official-looking logos, seals, signatures, or pictures of employee credentials.
  • Scammers mention a problem or a prize. They may say your Social Security number was involved in a crime or ask for personal information to process a benefit increase.
  • Scammers pressure you to act immediately. They may threaten you with arrest or legal action.
  • Scammers tell you to pay using a gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, wire or money transfer, or by mailing cash. They may also tell you to transfer your money to a “safe” account.

If any of these things happen, ignore the scammers, and report the criminal behavior. You can report Social Security-related scams to the SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Here are a few more common scams to watch out for:

1. Financial Institution Impersonation

Whether you call it phishing, SMishing, or vishing, with financial institution impersonation scams, you may get calls, texts, or emails that seem like they are coming from a reliable source—like Maps Credit Union. They may say that there has been suspicious activity in your account and ask you to confirm sensitive information (such as your Social Security Number, code word, account number, PIN, or credit card CVV code, etc.)

  • How to protect yourself: Do not give any personal information to anyone over text, phone, or email unless you initiate the call—and even then, use caution. Do not click on any links or download any apps in the message or email. Do not provide any one-time passcodes to a caller or texter unless you initiate the exchange. Maps (and any other legitimate financial institution) will NEVER contact you directly to verify information like this. If you receive a call or message like this, do not engage with the caller or sender. Contact Maps directly at 503.588.0181 and report the activity.

2. Check Fraud

Check fraud has been around forever and can take many forms including writing fraudulent checks, forging a check in someone’s name, drafting a fake check, or wiping the details off a check to write in a new payee or amount.

  • How to protect yourself: Use caution when writing checks and don’t put them in your mailbox or outdoor USPS collection boxes if you can avoid it. Instead, use digital banking and automatic payments to pay your bills and (if you must mail a check), walk inside the post office to mail it.

3. Credit Card Fraud

According to the Credit Card Fraud 2021 Annual Report, nearly half of all American adults have had a fraudulent charge on their credit or debit cards. Scammers can take your information and make purchases online without the card being present, take over your account by changing the passwords and PIN, or apply for new credit cards in your name.

  • How to protect yourself: Look for a locked padlock on the left side of the address bar for secure websites or a URL that begins with HTTPS. Don’t enter personal information on unsecure websites. Don’t save your credit card information online and check your financial statements regularly to be sure all of your transactions are legitimate.

4. Family Emergency

The family emergency scam works by playing at your heartstrings. You may get a call, email, or text saying that a family member is in distress and urgently needs money to fix the situation. The scammer may even use personal details they cull from social media to sound legitimate. Then they ask you to wire money, send a money order, purchase gift cars, or buy cryptocurrency.

  • How to protect yourself: Resist the urge to respond immediately. Hang up and call the family member who (supposedly) called you directly or call someone who can verify whether or not there is a real emergency—even if the original caller asks you to keep it a secret.
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