Urgently Asked to Send Money or Personal Information? Don’t. Just Don’t.
Every month in our local police reports, there are incidents of people falling for a scam online or over the phone. All scams follow the same primary modus operandi: Fraudsters trick individuals or organizations into giving money, personal information, or other valuables, often exploiting trust and creating a false sense of urgency.
“Some scammers weave a complex web of lies to get you to wire them money,” says FTC Consumer Education Specialist Terri Miller.
The only sure way to beat the scam is don’t send the money. If you’re unsure if it’s a scam, assume it is. Don’t send the money. Don’t give out your credit card or bank information. Err on the side of suspicion.
In a world where digital transactions have become the norm, it is crucial to stay vigilant to avoid falling prey to financial scams. It is critical to understand that sending money through wire transfers or credit card is akin to mailing physical cash - once it is sent, it is usually impossible to retrieve.
Scammers often employ various strategies to gain your trust and attention, convince you to send money, or give up personal information. They may concoct intricate narratives or express urgent needs to quickly manipulate you into sending them money. One example that has occurred on our police reports is when a scammer engages someone on a dating app, establishing rapport, and then suddenly claim to be in an emergency requiring immediate financial assistance. Another frequently appearing method is fraudsters on resale websites not sending the item “purchased.” Even more insidious are the scammers claiming to be a person’s financial institution asking for account access for some urgent reason.
“No matter what reason they give, never wire money to someone you haven’t met in person, who pressures you to pay immediately, or who says a wire transfer is the only way to pay,” warns Miller. “Only scammers ask you to do those things.”
Have you already wired money to a scammer? You might feel embarrassed for losing money and for trusting them. You’re not alone. A December 6, 2019, New York Post article reported that 63% of Americans have fallen victim to online scams.
If you have fallen victim, it might be possible to recover the money by taking immediate action. Contact the financial institution or wire transfer service used to send the money immediately. Report the incident as fraudulent and request a reversal of the transfer and refund of your money. Following this, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Remember, awareness and vigilance are key to preventing financial scams. It's your hard-earned money - treat wiring it as you would with sending cash in the mail, think twice, and act wisely.