Avoiding Online Scams
Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people around the globe every year. They often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. Many scammers insist that you wire money, or pressure you to make an important decision on the spot. Don’t fall for such tactics. Use these tips to help you avoid common scams.
What To Do
Know who you’re dealing with.
Try to find a seller’s physical address (not just a P.O. Box) and phone number. With internet phone services and other web-based technologies, it’s tough to tell where someone is calling from. Do an internet search for the company name and website, and look for negative reviews. If you find them, you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth the risk. After all, it’s only a good deal if you actually get a product that works.
Understand that wiring money is like sending cash.
Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who claims to be a relative or family friend in an emergency who wants to keep the request a secret.
Read your monthly statements.
Scammers steal account information and then run up charges or commit crimes in your name. Dishonest merchants bill you for monthly “membership fees” and other goods or services without your authorization. If you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t okay, contact your bank, card issuer, or other creditor immediately.
Give only to established charities after a disaster.
In the aftermath of a disaster, give to established charities, rather than one that has sprung up overnight. Pop-up charities probably don’t have the infrastructure to get help to the affected areas or people, and they could be collecting the money to finance illegal activity. For more donating tips, check out ftc.gov/charityfraud.
Talk to your doctor before you buy health products or treatments.
Ask about research that supports a product’s claims — and possible risks or side effects. Buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies. Otherwise, you could end up with products that are fake, expired, or mislabeled — in short, products that could be dangerous to your health.
When investing, remember there’s no sure thing. If someone contacts you with low-risk, high-return investment opportunities, stay away. When you hear pitches that insist you act now, that guarantee big profits, that promise little or no financial risk, or that demand that you send cash immediately, report them at ftc.gov.
What Not To Do
Don’t send money to someone you don’t know.
Not an online seller you’ve never heard of — nor an online love interest who asks for money. It’s best to do business with sites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider using an option that provides protection, like a credit card.
If you think you’ve found a good deal, but you aren’t familiar with the company, do some research. Type the company or product name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” See what comes up – on the first page of results as well as on the later pages.
Never pay fees now for the promise of a big pay-off later — whether it’s for a loan, a job, or a so-called prize.
Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back.
No matter how convincing the story. By law, banks have to make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. You’re responsible for the checks you deposit: If a check turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for paying back the bank.
Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information.
That goes whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an ad. Don’t click on links or call phone numbers included in the message, either. It’s called phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you got a message like this and you are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit or debit card — or your statement — and check on it.
Don’t play a foreign lottery.
It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery. And yet messages that tout your chances of winning a foreign lottery, or messages that claim you’ve already won can be so tempting. Inevitably, you’re asked to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize. If you send money to collect, you haven’t won anything. Indeed, you’ve lost whatever money you sent. You won’t get any money back, either, regardless of the promises.
Report Online Scams
If you think you may have been scammed:
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you are outside the U.S., file a complaint at econsumer.gov. Complaints are entered into the Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
- Visit ftc.gov/idtheft, where you’ll find out how to minimize your risk of identity theft.
- Report scams to your state Attorney General.
If you get unsolicited email offers or spam, send the messages to email@example.com.
If you get what looks like lottery material from a foreign country through postal mail, give it to your local postmaster.
Where to Learn More
U.S. Federal Trade Commission — The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1 (866) 653-4261.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center – IC3 was established as a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to serve as a means to receive Internet-related criminal complaints and to further research, develop, and refer the criminal complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate. Visit www.ic3.gov.
U.S. Department of State — The Department of State’s mission is to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community. As part of that mission, the Department of State seeks to minimize the impact of international crime, including cross-border internet scams, on the United States and its citizens. To get free information, visit www.state.gov.
Tips on Identity Theft
Steps you can take to avoid being the next victim!
How Serious is the Problem?
Government officials call identity theft “the fastest growing crime in the nation,” with over 400,000 people affected last year alone. The average financial loss to an identity fraud victim is estimated at $36,000.00.
Thieves obtain personal information such as social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers and even birth certificates and passports. Accounts are then opened in the victim’s name for credit cards and loans with the mail diverted to a different address.
With this approach, it could take months or years to learn that you are a victim. Pay attention to the tips listed below.
How To Guard Against It
Remove mail promptly from your mailbox. Never use your mailbox for outgoing mail. Identity thieves raid mailboxes to steal credit card offers and financial statements.
Guard your social security number. Do not give out personal information like PIN or credit card numbers over the phone or the internet unless you initiated the transaction. Identity thieves often call you posing as an internet provider or credit card company to gain knowledge of your accounts.
Be very careful with receipts. Make sure you have them when you leave the store or ATM and do not throw them into a public trash can. Thieves use these receipts to access your accounts.
Review your credit report from time to time. Each bureau will give you one free credit report per year.
The major credit bureaus are:
EQUIFAX: (800) 685-1111 www.equifax.com
EXPERIAN: (800) 397-3742 www.experian.com
TRANS UNION: (800) 888-4213 www.transunion.com To order your credit report online visit www.annualcreditreport.com
Destroy pre-approved credit card offers before you throw them out. A home shredder is the best thing to use on financial statements, receipts and old cancelled checks that you are discarding.
Account for all new checkbooks when you receive them in the mail. If any are missing, report stolen checks immediately. Keep new and cancelled checks in a safe place.
Block your ATM transaction with your body. Keep the keyboard from view to prevent someone from learning your personal identification number (PIN).
Commit all passwords and personal identification numbers to memory. The less you have on paper, the less likely it is that someone will learn these numbers.
Be creative when you select a password. Don’t be obvious like using the last four digits of your social security number, phone number, address, birth date or any format that could easily be decoded by thieve
What to do if you are a victim
Contact your credit card company and your financial institution and close your accounts. The FBI suggests that you put passwords (not your mother’s maiden name) on any new accounts you open.
Call the three major credit bureaus (numbers shown below) to tell them your identity has been stolen. Request that a “fraud alert” be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
EQUIFAX: (800) 685-1111
EXPERIAN: (800) 397-3742
TRANS UNION: (800) 888-4213
Call the Social Security Fraud Hotline: 800-269-0271
Contact the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) theft hotline:1 (877) 438-4338
You should not only file a report with the police, but also get a copy of the report in case you need proof of the crime later for credit card companies, etc.
If your checks are used fraudulently:
CHECKWRITE: (800) 766-2748
CHEXSYSTEMS: (800) 428-9623
EQUIFAX: (800) 437-5120
NATIONAL PROCESSING COMPANY: (800) 526-5380
SCAN: (800) 526-5380
TELECHECK: (800) 710-9898
Funds Availability Policy Effective 7/1/2020
Your Ability to Withdraw Funds at Sacramento Deposit Bank. This policy statement applies to all deposit accounts. Our policy is to make funds from your cash and check deposits available to you on the first business day after the day we receive your deposit. Electronic direct deposits will be available on the day we receive the deposit. Once they are available, you can withdraw the funds in cash and we will use the funds to pay checks that you have written. For determining the availability of your deposits, every day is a business day, except Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays. If you make a deposit before 3:00 PM Monday through Thursday or 5:00 PM Friday on a business day that we are open, we will consider that day to be the day of your deposit. However. if you make a deposit after 3:00 PM Monday through Thursday or 5:00 PM Friday or on a day we are not open, we will consider that the deposit was made on the next business day we are open.
Longer Delays May Apply. In some cases, we will not make all of the funds that you deposit by check available to you on the first business day after the day of your deposit. Depending on the type of check that you deposit, funds may not be available until the second business day after the day of your deposit. However, the first $225 of your deposits will be available on the first business day. If we are not going to make all of the funds from your deposit available on the first business day, we will notify you at the time you make your deposit. We will also tell you when the funds will be available. If your deposit is not made directly to one of our employees, or if we decide to take this action after you have left the premises, we will mail you the notice by the day after we receive your deposit. If you will need the funds from a deposit right away, you should ask us when the funds will be available.
Safeguard Exceptions. In addition, funds you deposit by check may be delayed for a longer period under the following circumstances:
- We believe a check you deposit will not be paid.
- You deposit checks totaling more than $5,525 on anyone day.
- You redeposit a check that has been returned unpaid.
- You have overdrawn your account repeatedly in the last six months.
- There is an emergency, such as failure of computer or communications equipment.
We will notify you if we delay your ability to withdraw funds for any of these reasons, and we will tell you when the funds will be available. They will generally be available no later than the seventh business day after the day of your deposit.
ATM Cut-Off Time. If you make a deposit before 1:00 PM on a business day that we are open, we will consider that day of your deposit. However, if you make a deposit after 1 :00 PM or on a day we are not open, we will consider that the deposit was made on the next business day we are open.
Special Rules for New Accounts. If you are a new customer, the following special rules will apply during the first 30 days your account is open. Funds from electronic direct deposits to your account will be available on the day we receive the deposit. Funds from deposits of cash, wire transfers, and the first $5,525 of a day’s total deposits of cashier’s, certified, teller’s, traveler’s, and federal, state and local government checks will be available on the first business day after the day of your deposit if the deposit meets certain conditions. For example, the checks must be payable to you (and you may have to use a special deposit slip). The excess over $5,525 will be available on the ninth business day after the day of your deposit. If your deposit of these checks (other than a U.S. Treasury check) is not made in person to one of our employees, the first $5,525 will not be available until the second business day after the day of your deposit. Funds from all other check deposits will be available on the eleventh business day after the day of your deposit.