Scammers are becoming increasingly intelligent and highly sophisticated in the methods and attempts that they use and make to obtain your personal details and to gain access to your money. These individuals and all of their malicious attempts target people of all ages, backgrounds, and income levels.

In today’s world of technological advancements and innovation, we are all vulnerable to the fraudulent attempts of others to illegally gain access to personal information and financial information. In this guide, you will learn various strategies for avoiding scams.

What is a Scam?

A scam is any type of activity where an individual or group attempts to get you to part with your personal information and/or your money. Scammers often play on the emotions or commit to a big payoff or other benefits for the purpose and intent to getting their victims to act. Scammers may pose as people, companies, businesses, agencies, and organizations that you know and that you trust. Scams may occur in person, over the telephone, over the internet, and/or through the mail.

What are the Signs of a Scam?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are several different signs that may indicate that a scam is occurring. In order to avoid scams, you must become familiar with these signs. All too often, those impacted by scammers do not realize that they are a victim until it is too late and the damage has been done. Below are the most common signs of a scam:

  1. Push to Act Immediately – Scammers need to work quick in order to succeed in their endeavors. As a result of this fact, they will want you to act immediately. The goal is to ensure that you send the money or provide the requested information to them before you have time to figure out that what they are doing is illegal or fraudulent. By pushing you to act immediately, they are more likely to succeed with their scam.
  2. Requirement to Send Money Right Away – Most scammers will request that you send money immediately. This could be through a wiring service, a check or money order overnight, or a courier. A rush to get your money is a sure sign that you are involved in a scam. Remember, once money is sent, it cannot be retrieved. What is done is done.
  3. Deposit – There are crafty scammers that will send you a check and request that you deposit it in your bank immediately. Do not ever do this. The check is a fake. This is especially true if they send the check, request that you deposit it, and that you send them money in return.
  4. Involve Those You Care About – Many scammers do a lot of research on their victims. They will learn who they are related to and who they associate with. Then, they will pretend to be that person or representing that person. For example, they may claim that a grandchild is in jail or has been in an accident and is in an emergency room at a hospital. They will then claim that a certain amount of money is needed right away. This is an example of the “Grandparent Scam”. They may also act as a neighbor, coworker, or friend.
  5. Represent a Government Agency – Many scammers may contact you and state that they are from a well-respected government agency. Examples include the IRS, FBI, Customs, or the U.S Marshals. The phone they call from may show up on the caller ID as one from Washington D.C or even the agency name that they claim to be calling from. They may claim you owe money or have won money through some type of sweepstakes. These are always scams.
  6. Promised Winnings – Many scammers will contact individuals and state that they have won sweepstakes or something similar. They will then state that you must cover the taxes, insurance, or shipping costs to cover your winnings. If you have really won anything, you will not be required to send money first in order to retrieve your winnings.
  7. Requesting Access to Finances – The next sign of a scam is when a person or entity requests access to your money. Examples include asking for ATM card information, bank account numbers, credit cards, and even investment accounts.


In order to avoid scams, it is imperative that you have an adequate amount of cybersecurity. If you do not, it could lead to identity theft and a vast array of financial complications. Below are some strategies for ensuring that you are safe online:

  1. First, never open any email from someone that you are not familiar with. If you DO happen to open an email, never click on any links that are contained therein.
  2. Next, be aware that scammers have the capability of finding their way into the online accounts of others – this includes family members and friends. If someone you know sends a link, it is best not to open it. Many times, the link will appear to be legitimate, but it is not.
  3. If you are asked to provide personal information – such as your Social Security number or your birthday – you must ensure that the website is credible and secure. Failure to avoid doing this could result in your information landing in the hands of a scammer. These individuals move quickly. By the time you realize there is a problem, it is quite likely that you will be facing multiple other types of problems.
  4. You should always use passwords that are strong. Examples include number, letter, and symbol combinations. Never include your name or any other identifiable information within your passwords. Also, you should never give out your password to anyone. If you have to write down your passwords, keep them in a locked safe within your home.
  5. When using a computer and other electronic devices, it is imperative that you stay up to date on all of the most recent software updates and patches. Failure to do so could open you up to those with malicious intent.
  6. When using computers and other types of electronic devices, use a strong password for your network and your device. Additionally, you should make certain that you install antivirus protection, enable a firewall, and it is best to use a filter service for your email.
  7. You should always stay up-to-date on the latest and most common scams occurring. There is an agency referred to as “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency” or “CISA” that will allow you to sign up for the latest alerts regarding potential scam threats. It is advised that you sign up for these alerts.

Mail Fraud

Many scammers will use the U.S Mail service to engage in illegal activities. If you receive mail that promises offers, promotions, sweepstakes, winning lotteries, employment, inheritance notifications, and free services that request personal information, be careful. Nearly all of these are scams. Never share personal information, financial information, and other tidbits of information about yourself. Do not allow yourself to be pressured to make a rash decision. Also, research the company online through the Better Business Bureau, State Attorney General’s Office, and the FTC.

Telephone Fraud

Many scammers will use home phones and mobile phones in order to commit their illegal acts. To avoid telephone fraud, follow the strategies outlined below:

  1. Register your phone number or numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. You may do this online, but you may also call the following number: 1-866-290-4236.
  2. Do not fall for claims that you have won yourself a vacation package or another type of prize.
  3. If a call is suspicious, simply hang up and cease all levels of communication with that company.
  4. Do not trust what you see on your Caller ID. Scammers now have the ability to change the number and/or wording that appears on these identification systems.
  5. If you answer and someone says, “Can you hear me?”, do not answer as your answer could be used as proof that you agreed to some type of charge. Instead, simply hang up.
  6. If someone asks for your information pertaining to your debit card, credit cards, or bank account do not provide it to them. Hang up immediately. Remember, these businesses will never ask for that type of information over the telephone. If you are concerned it was a legitimate call, look up the number to the company and call them yourself.
  7. NEVER send money, buy gift cards, or make any other type of financial transaction over the telephone unless you were the one that called the company with the purpose and intent of doing so.

Contact Us Today

If you are concerned about scams and scammers, we here at Somerville Bank can assist you today. Simply contact our team at one of our many locations directly or give us a call. We are here to protect you and your money. For more information on contact, click on the following link now: