Happy New Year! Each New Year brings with it celebrations, excitement, and opportunity. Unfortunately, however, we can also count on con artists to come up with new scams that may hurt you and your loved ones. This year, we are challenging our readers to resolve to not be one of the millions of Americans that will fall victim to fraud. Staying safe from scams is no accident—the best way to protect yourself is to become familiar with our fraud prevention checklist to help make the new year prosperous and scam-free.
Protect your digital data. In today’s connected world, protecting your online data is one of the most important things you can do to prevent fraud. You can do this by:
- Never reuse passwords across different websites. Reusing passwords allows hackers access to several accounts if one of them is compromised by a data breach. A password manager program can help you here, since it relieves you of having to remember multiple passwords for different sites.
- Opting-in to multi-factor authentication whenever possible. TwoFactorAuth.org is a good resource for finding out which services offer multi-factor authentication to their users.
- Using strong passwords. Strong passwords are longer and utilize both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers, and do not contain common phrases.
- Checking out Fraud.org’s Latest Breaches HQ for the most up-to-date information on recent data breaches.
Educate yourself on the more prevalent scams. Check out some of the worst scams featured in our past Fraud Alerts. Getting familiar with those scams and learning how to identify the red flags of fraud is a good way to avoid falling for it.
Listen to your gut. Scammers tend to play on our sense of hope and optimism. If you get an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Never pay for a prize in a lottery or sweepstakes. If you are asked to pay for your prize, it is a scam.
Take a breath. If you receive an urgent request, take a moment before acting. Scammers often rely on creating a false sense of urgency to get their victims to act without thinking clearly. If someone is pressuring you to act immediately, take a moment to think about what they are asking you to do.
If something seems off, do some research. Do a web search to see if other people have been approached with a similar situation and if it was a scam. Likewise, if you think someone is acting suspicious but is affiliated with an organization, contact that organization directly to see if the individual in question actually works there.
Unfortunately, even if we do everything we can to protect ourselves, fraudsters can still trick us. If you have fallen victim to a scam, you should file a complaint at Fraud.org via our secure online complaint form. We share complaints with our network of nearly 200 law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who put fraudsters behind bars.