(BPT) - Technology can make life convenient, especially with mobile phones that help us stay connected on-the-go. Unfortunately, today's scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making it more difficult to spot suspicious emails, calls or texts. But the good news is there are ways to identify the red flags of a potential scam if you know what to look for and understand the right steps to take — or not to take — when you suspect you’re being scammed.
Once you've learned about these techniques make sure to share the information with your friends and family — especially those who may be more vulnerable to these kinds of scams. For instance, start a conversation with older and younger adults who may be more trusting of digital technology.
Here are tips to help you and your loved ones be on guard against scammers from the security experts at Bank of America.
1. Didn't expect it? Don't click it.
Be wary of any message that's unexpected — no matter who or what company it's from — especially if it's about something like a "problem with your account," "confirmation of an order," "difficulty delivering a package" or a "virus on your computer." These messages may come by phone, email, text, direct message or pop-up with a request for personal information or money.
Rule of thumb: Never click on a link or open an attachment from any institution or individual unless you were expecting it. If you think the message could be legitimate, take a moment and find the contact information on the company website and then reach out to the institution or person directly and ask if the email, text or call came from them. If not, simply delete it.
2. Be wary of requests that pressure you to act immediately.
Watch out for messages that pressure you to act immediately. If a familiar company or someone you know comes to you with an alarming "emergency" or "problem" where time is of the essence, take a breath and recognize that this urgency may be a scam. Scammers know if they can get your emotions or adrenaline high that you're less likely to think rationally. And don't just trust caller ID to confirm who's calling since numbers and voices can be easily spoofed or imitated. Even if it seems to be from a relative or friend, call that person directly at the number you've always used to contact them in the past to confirm if the message indeed came from them.
3. Asked to pay in an unusual way? Stop and assess the situation.
Scammers often ask for a payment method that can't be traced or rescinded, such as through a bitcoin, prepaid debit cards or gift cards — this is a major red flag. If you're asked to provide payment in an unusual way, stop and assess if this may be a scam. Financial institutions will never ask you to transfer money to anyone, including yourself, and will never ask you to transfer money because of possible fraud on your account.
4. When in doubt, don't give it out.
It's crucial to safeguard your personal and financial information. Be wary if you are asked to provide personal or account information. Keep in mind that a financial institution such as Bank of America will never contact you via phone, text or email to request personal information or an account verification code. Never provide this information to anyone unless it was you who initiated the call to the company.
5. Tempted to "get rich quick?" Trust your gut.
If you receive an offer for a free product, trip, or other "get rich quick" opportunity that seems too good to be true, trust your instincts. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Also, never cash a check for someone you don't know personally even if they claim they will pay you extra for the favor. If you authorize a transfer or send money to a scammer, it can be very difficult for you to get your money back.
6. Take your security to the next level.
Use up-to-date technology to avoid falling victim to scams. You can help protect your online accounts by always using features like two-factor authentication, which makes your accounts harder to access, and activity alerts that keep you updated on what's going on with your account.
Unsure how safe your accounts are? Check if your bank offers security tools to help you. The Bank of America Security Center brings together security features and tools as well as fraud and scam education, making it easy to get the latest info and protect yourself. Security Center in Mobile and Online Banking also includes a security meter that shows you the level of protection of your accounts and information.
Learn more about ways to protect your financial security and help avoid scams.