Do you know how to spot a scam?
The Boise Police Department Crime Prevention Unit recently hosted a training session on identity theft, mail fraud, and scams, and how to avoid being a victim. The training was taught by a BPD Financial Crimes Unit lead detective and a US Postal Service inspector. The biggest lesson taught was how to spot scam red flags and how to avoid being a victim of identity theft.
Some of the key tips to help avoid identity theft include:
- Check your credit report at least once a year via the major credit bureaus to verify it is correct. Also, be sure to shred important financial and personal documents when you no longer need them.
- Freeze your credit file if you are not needing to open lines of credit. (You can unfreeze it in the future if you end up needing to.)
- Banks, mortgage companies and legitimate credit companies will never call to verify information such as your social security number or date of birth; DO NOT "confirm" personal info over the phone.
- Whenever asked by an unknown caller if this is "_________", respond with "Who is calling please?" instead of "Yes". Bad guys may be trying to record your voice saying “yes” to use it later.
- If you have a warrant, owe money to the IRS, or missed jury duty (these are common scams), you will not be notified over the phone. You will be notified via certified mail. It is also important to verify a call-back number via a second source. Trust, but verify! Also, it’s almost assured that no government agency or business will ask you to use gift cards over the phone to pay a fine or fee. This is a common scam.
Perhaps the best advice of all is to follow your gut… IF IT SEEMS FUNNY, OR IT FEELS LIKE SOMEONE IS RUSHING YOU OR TRYING TO SCARE YOU, HANG UP! IT IS LIKELY A SCAM.