Spam calls and texts have become a normal, almost daily part of life. At Lake Chem, dealing with the fallout of members being taken advantage of by scammers has become a normal part of our day as well, unfortunately. No matter how the scammers are contacting you, there are some ways you can protect yourself and your financial security from harm.
Verify who you are talking to.
When it comes to scammers, begin by assuming you are talking to a stranger on the internet. If you cannot see them, you cannot for sure know who they are. If you are talking on the phone to someone, are you familiar with this person? Is it a number you know? Is the number listed on the institution’s website? If you receive an email, text, or phone call from a number claiming to be from a business or financial institution, verify the legitimacy of them by looking up their number or information on the internet. If their information cannot be verified, do not continue to speak to them and do not give them any of your personal information. Many of these scams come out of the blue, ask yourself, if you haven’t been late on your loan payments at Lake Chem, why would they be contacting me asking for money? If your taxes have been filed and you received a refund, why would the IRS want you to mail them a large amount of cash? Verify that the person you are speaking with is in fact with the organization they say they are with and have a legitimate reason for contacting you.
Know the signs of fraud.
Scammers come in many different forms and threaten our community in different ways, but they all have distinct red flags. They will ask you to get money out for them, and they will threaten you in some way. Many of the scams we have seen have asked for money to be transferred to them by mailing cash, transferred through Bitcoin, or put onto gift cards and then giving them the information. They will tell you that if you do not give them the money, you will be in trouble. This is not true. If you are concerned, please call and talk to someone. Having someone verify your suspicions will save you so much trouble in the long run. It is better to take the time to question someone’s authenticity, than the time it will take you to regain the money you will lose to the scammers. For example, if someone is pretending to be from Lake Chem, call one of our branches directly. Or, if someone calls saying they are from the IRS and you must send them an amount of money in cash or you will be arrested, call us and we will help you. We see so many scams like this on a daily basis and can help you determine if someone trying to collect money from you is legitimate. No one from Lake Chem or any other institution would ask you to mail money in cash, no one would ask you to transfer money in an inconspicuous way, no one would ask you to put money onto gift cards, and no one would threaten you. If you receive any contact from someone you do not know and they are threatening you, please let your financial institution know, and please let the police know!
Do not let them control you.
People trying to scam you want to control the situation you are in. They want you to be afraid of them, stay in contact with them, and lie for them. They will start with a threat, if you do not give them the money they have asked for, there will be repercussions. The most common one we have seen is people being told they will be arrested and put in jail. Scammers want you to be afraid of them, so you will be easier to manipulate. Many of them force you to keep them on the phone with them while you go and get the money they asked for so they can hear what you are doing and what people are saying to you, and then they will have you lie. If you came to one of our locations and told us you were getting cash to send through the mail to help someone that contacted you through Facebook, we would recognize those red flags and help you. The scammers will have you lie about why you are needing money, and they think of very clever things to say to keep you from getting help. If someone is asking for money and wanting you to lie to your financial institution, hang up and call the police and your financial institution to report the scam.
Ask for help.
If you get something in the mail, a text, or an email, that doesn’t sit right with you, ask someone for a second opinion! If you received a strange text, more than likely there are other people in the area that are getting the exact same thing! Having a second party verify your suspicions will save you time, effort, and the security of your financial assets. We would much rather talk with you and find that the email you got that seemed strange is real, than to try and reverse the damage done to your finances by a scammer.