Stay Safe from Scammers
We often talk about financial security in these columns in terms of savings and investments, but today I wanted to talk about an equally important kind of safety: avoiding financial scams.
When so much business and commerce is done remotely, identifying scams can be difficult. After all, you can’t exactly look your online merchant in the eyes and know they’re a legitimate business! According to the Federal Trade Commission, reported consumer losses to fraud totaled $8.8 billion in 2022 — that’s a 30 percent increase from 2021.
Part of the reason for the spike is that new technologies allow scammers to develop increasingly sophisticated campaigns. They leverage data and consumer habits to target – and retarget – their victims. And they do so on nearly every communication tool available – from social media to email to phone calls.
The good news is that a little time and research on the front end can thwart some of the most common attacks. If you receive an email from your bank asking for financial information, don’t respond back. Instead, call your local branch directly. That two-step verification will help ensure the request is valid. Off note: Most major banks won’t ever ask for financial information via email, so even receiving a communication like that should be a red flag!
Additionally, if you are approached online by someone you do not know – or by a new digital “friend” – make sure to check for tell-tale signs of deception. This might include misspellings or mismatching names and emails. If the email contains a link, never click on it. Instead, Google the institution to which the sender says the link directs to and navigate there yourself.
Of course, even tech-savvy Mississippians can fall victim to sneaky scams. If this is the case for you, do not be embarrassed by it and forced into hiding! That happens all too often. Instead, contact local law enforcement and submit a report to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
As State Treasurer, it’s not only my responsibility to handle the state’s finances responsibly, but to help Mississippians handle their personal finances responsibly as well. Scams affect Americans from all walks of life. Stay vigilant to protect your heard-earned money.
For more financial wellness information, please visit Treasury.MS.gov/FinancialEducation.