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Identity Theft: Being Wise To Imposter Scams

Frustrated man looking at his laptop

Have you ever been startled by an urgent phone call or email from someone who sounds legit, but is demanding money or your personal information? If so, you’re not alone. Imposter scams are common, so it's important to stay alert and know how to keep yourself and your information safe.



Imposter scams work by playing on people’s fears and emotions about situations that matter to them and creating a sense of urgency to frighten the victim into making a rash decision. Scammers often pose as government agencies, family members, utility companies, tech support, or charities. Many scammers take advantage of current events such as disaster relief, political elections, tax seasons, and pandemics.

Current events such as election year, tax season, and natural disasters like floods, fires and tornados, also trigger a plethora of imposter scams. You may think that you’re contributing to a political candidate’s campaign or helping disaster relief efforts, but it’s important that you do your due diligence before donating money to someone who contacts you. Always verify a charity’s legitimacy through its official website. Even more appalling are the scammers who try to steal money from disaster victims by assuming the victim’s identity in order to claim money from relief funds meant to help them rebuild their lives.

Another common type of scam to be aware of is utilities scams. Fraudsters call a home or business demanding payment for a supposed delinquent bill or threaten to terminate service. They especially like to do this in the summer when you rely on your AC or in winter when you need heat. Some scammers pretend to be utility workers and show up at your home to inspect equipment or investigate a leak, or conduct a “free” audit for energy efficiency. They instead try to charge you or get your credit card number or simply gain entry into your home to steal a vehicle or other valuables.

If you ever receive an urgent or unsolicited call, text, or email, replace panic with thought and reason. Never share your personal information or send money, gift cards, or make wire transfers to someone you don’t know. If you’re contacted by phone, hang up and discuss the situation with someone you trust, or call the company back with the phone number listed on your account statement. Finally, don’t allow someone who shows up at your door claiming to be a worker to enter your home unless you contacted them first for assistance.

Knowledge is power. Be informed and keep safe. Royal Credit Union is always here to help!

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