Stay Ahead of Scammers with These Helpful Tips

Scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to steal your money and personal information. It’s important to stay ahead of them by keeping your guard up and by using some simple techniques to make yourself a hard target.

  1. Scammers use urgency. They are experts in applying pressure and using persuasion to either gain your trust or scare you into taking immediate action. You have the power to disengage and prevent them from succeeding. Hang up the phone. Log off the social media account. Do not continue contact through email.
  2. Every scam begins with a scammer contacting you. Whether it’s a phone call, text message, email, or a popup on a website, scammers are hunting for victims. Think about how your conversation began. Did you respond to an email or answer a call? Were you contacted through social media? Did you call a “customer service” number that popped up on your computer or was texted to you? The scammer may sound extremely helpful and friendly, or they may be threatening, depending on the con they are running, but ultimately you have the power because a scam cannot be successful without your participation.
  3. Take action. When you contact companies or government agencies, use their official websites or secure apps and set up multifactor authentication which will send a passcode to your phone or email to increase security. If you feel you may have been scammed, seek help quickly. It is not always possible to recover funds that have been stolen but contact your bank immediately, report it to the police, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.


How are scammers so successful?

No one wants to believe that they can be scammed, but statistics do not lie. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2023, they received 2.6 million fraud reports, the largest number ever reported.   Consumers lost an astounding $10 billion to scams, which is an increase of $1 billion from the previous year.  Even with everything we know about the threat of fraudsters who are actively working against us, the FTC states that one in four people have reported loss from a scam. The simple fact is that many of these scammers are well-rehearsed in using the techniques and technology that have gotten them results. Scammers may be men or women. They may sound professional or represent themselves as someone you know or should trust. They may be part of an organized group working out of a call bank. They may even use sophisticated tools such as voice-cloning artificial intelligence (AI) technology to get what they want. What’s important to know is that if a scammer makes contact with you, they will do everything they can to make you doubt your instincts so that they can steal your money or information.

The FTC’s most recent statistics show that:

  • Emails were the most effective contact method for scammers in 2023. You should be especially mindful of emails which appear to be coming from legitimate businesses or government agencies or programs, such as the IRS, Medicare, or Social Security. Never click on links within these emails. Never reply to these emails. If you feel an email you receive is legitimate, contact the company directly through their official site or phone number.
  • Imposter scams caused $2.7 billion in reported losses. This continues to be a top fraud category and includes any scam where someone presents themselves as someone they are not with the intention of stealing from you. You may get an urgent call that sounds like your loved one reaching out for your help (money) but is actually a scammer using an AI app to pose as your son, or daughter, or grandchild. Or you may get a call from someone who claims to be from your bank’s fraud department, and they just need to “verify a few things.” You might get a text message that your online shopping account has been charged in error, and you must call a number to correct the issue. The variations are endless.
  • Social media scams caused $1.4 billion in losses. Be on guard for a wide variety of cons that may include fake online shopping sites, fraudsters using fake social media profiles, romance scams, lottery and giveaway scams, false investment opportunities, fundraisers, quizzes or surveys that collect your personal information, phishing scams where you get a message with a link to click, or online job offers. Some of these scams may quickly steal your information while others, such as the romance scam, may initiate a long con that manipulates you over an extended period of time and bilks you out of as much money as possible.
  • Top payment methods are bank transfers, accounting for $1.86 billion in losses in 2023, cryptocurrency wasn’t far behind with $1.41 billion in losses and wire transfers came in third. Other payment methods include credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, checks, Money Orders, PayPal, and digital wallet services such as Zelle, Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay or Google Pay.


Watch out for new scams and always protect yourself.

Scammers continually adapt and change the cons they use based on what is effective. As technology like artificial intelligence is readily available and continues to become more advanced, we can expect that fraudsters will find new ways to use it to their advantage. Of particular concern is the potential for AI to mimic a loved one’s voice or image, even in video form. However, it’s important to remember that we can use “scam-aware” best practices in defense of all of these cons.

  • Always guard your personal information closely.
  • Contact companies through their official websites and secure apps.
  • Monitor your bank account activity. Once scammers have your information, they may initiate transfers out of your bank account without you noticing.
  • Disengage if you have been contacted by someone you feel may be a scammer. Remember that they play on your emotions and are skilled at pressuring you to doubt your instincts, but if something feels off, it probably is!
  • Create a “safe word” that only you and your family know. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be your family member, you can ask them for the safe word to verify their identity.
  • Use multi-factor or authenticator software whenever possible.
  • Use unique online passwords and use different passwords for different sites.


It can be scary when we think about how many ways scammers will try to take advantage of us, but with caution and defensive strategies we can minimize our risks. If you feel that you may have been scammed, you are certainly not alone, and you should not hesitate to speak up. Notify the fraud department of your local police, contact your bank and/or credit card companies, use a credit monitoring service and check your credit reports for suspicious activity going forward and report the scam to the FTC. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.