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How to avoid common financial scams

Mona Lopez - Business Operations Manager

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These are a few ways scammers try to trap us but it’s definitely not an exhaustive list. According to a Federal Bureau of Investigation report, Americans lost $10.3 billion to various scams last year. This is the highest loss in five years. Statistics don’t lie and we can’t ignore them or else we run the risk of being added to the number.

Don’t fall victim to scammers. As your banking institution, we want to inform you of three specific financial scams to look out for. We’re in this together.

1.     Lottery scams

“You’ve won!” The infamous words we all love to hear, but only when they’re true. A lot of scammers prey on our innate feeling of wanting to win and that’s why they utilize the empty promise of winning a prize such as the lottery. Using this method, they prompt the target to enter personal information or pay money.Luckily, we’re onto them.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, here are three signs of a lottery/prize scam:

●     You have to pay to receive your prize (real prizes are free).

●     They say to increase your odds of winning by paying.

●      You have to enter your financial information.

2.     Money mule scams

Scammers have found their partners in crime – money mules. The money mule plays the role of a middleman who helps launder money illegally obtained from online scams. Their position creates distance between the victim and the criminal (the scammer) which makes it harder for the law enforcement to trace the money trails.

According to the FBI, here are two common avenues for a money mule scam:

●     Work-from-home job opportunities

●     You receive unsolicited emails or social media direct messages that promise easy money with little to no effort.

●     The“employer” uses web-based email services (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.).

●      You are asked to open a bank account in your own name or in the name of the company you form to receive and transfer money.

●     Dating and social media platforms

●     An online contact asks to receive money.

●      Asking for your account information to deposit money

3.     Overpayment scams

Thinking about selling anything? Be on the lookout for potential overpayment scams. In this type of scam, someone will respond to your posting or ad and offer to use a cashier’s check, personal check or corporate check to pay. This may seem like a normal occurrence until the buyer comes up with a reason to write a check for over your asking price asking you to wire back the difference after depositing the check.

Once you deposit the check and wire funds back to your so-called buyer, the check will bounce and you will be liable for the entire amount. The checks are counterfeit checks, but good enough to pass at first glance.

According to the New Hampshire Department of Justice, here are a three ways to avoid an overpayment scam:

●     Don’t accept a check for more than your asking price.

●     Consider an alternative method of payment.

●      If you accept a payment by check, do not issue a refund for overpayment until the payment has posted to your account.


Take control. If you’re not sure if what you’ve received could be a scam, reach out and ask. The most important takeaway from this is to report any possible scam so others don’t become victims. Together, let's change the statistics.