How to Spot Financial Scams

Posted: May 14, 2021

A member is eager to learn how to best detect financial scams.

Scammers keep developing new tactics to try and fool consumers. Here are some current scams you should watch out for as well as some tips on how to protect yourself.

Work-from-Home Job Offer

  • The Scam: You get a work-from-home job offer for a medical billing position. The pay is much higher than other similar jobs. They mail you a check for even more than they owe you, but say they made a mistake and need you to pay them back. You pay them the difference and later find out their check bounced. Or they tell you that you must pay for equipment for the job and they will reimburse you later, but they never do.
  • The Red Flags: Be skeptical if the pay is unusually high for a job. Run the company name through a search engine to see if complaints of fraud pop up. Scope out their website and social media accounts. If they have a vague description and it’s not clear what type of work they do, this may be a sign that it is a fake company. Also, be wary of any employer that requires you to pay them to work.

Phishing for Financial Information

  • The Scam: You receive an email from your financial institution alerting you that there is an issue with your loan or your account is on hold and will be deactivated. You are told you must click a link and provide your PIN, enter your bank account information, download and complete a form, complete a test transaction or call them to rectify the issue.
  • The Red Flags: Landmark or any other reputable financial institution would not request you to take any of the actions listed above over email. If you have any concerns, call Landmark or the financial institution directly using the phone number listed on their website, not the phone number from the suspicious email.

Secret Shopper

  • The Scam: You get an offer in the mail to be a Secret Shopper. They provide you with a check to deposit in your account and tell you go to a big-box store, purchase gift cards and give a report back including the gift card numbers and PINs. They use the money from the gift cards and the check they sent you turns out to be a fake.
  • The Red Flags: Strangers and companies you don’t know shouldn’t be sending you unexpected checks to deposit. Asking for gift cards is also a popular way scammers try to steal money.

Prizes, Sweepstakes and Rebates

  • The Scam: You get a phone call or text message informing you that you have won a prize or are eligible for a rebate. You’re instructed to go to a website and enter in your bank account information to get the prize or rebate. Alternatively, they may tell you that you must pay taxes or a shipping and handling fee to receive the prize or rebate.
  • The Red Flags: Legitimate companies will not require payment for a prize and do not need your banking or credit card information. Also, don’t click on suspicious links in text messages.

Tips on Protecting Yourself from Scams

  • Don’t share private information. Don’t give out personal or financial information to anyone you don’t trust. This would include your social security number, credit card number, bank account information or username and passwords.
  • Use multi-factor authentication. When possible, use multi-factor authentication for your online accounts to require two or more credentials to log in such as a passcode sent via text or a fingerprint or face scan. That will make it harder for scammers to hack into your accounts even if they get ahold of your username and password.
  • Is the deal too good to be real? As the old adage says, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
  • Take a pause. Don’t let anyone pressure you into paying or sharing personal information immediately. Legitimate businesses will not force you to act quickly. It’s also helpful to stop and do some research or talk to someone you trust if you’re concerned.
  • Don’t take money from or send money to strangers. Don’t deposit checks from or wire money to any person or company you’re not familiar with.
  • Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. Register your phone number at to reduce unwanted phone calls.
  • Research and report. Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website to read consumer alerts and report any frauds or scams you encounter.

Although scammers have some creative ways to try to trick consumers, by using these suggestions and your critical thinking skills, you’ll be able to protect yourself and your hard-earned money.