With the advancement of technology, comes many wonderful things. We can broadcast across the world, find different hobbies and interest groups to communicate with, and even work from home. However, looming in the background is the ever-present fraud-risk and criminal aspect of the internet world.

Online theft quickly surpassed that of physical theft in the last decade. As technology advanced, so did scams. Even as protection plans and software are developed, the criminal side finds loopholes and gaps to jump through. Instead of pulling money from your purse or taking checks from your mailbox, they are pulling data from your online presence, accounting for around 667 million dollars lost to online theft and scams in 2019.

Due to the ever-changing tech-world, the best line of defense you have is. . . YOU. You are the ultimate firewall. You can spot things out of the ordinary and know when something seems. . . well, phishy!


“The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, like passwords and credit card numbers”

Common companies that are used with phishing include the IRS, Social Security, and utility companies. These companies are often used in fraud because it “makes more sense” for them to be asking for personal information.

Common Scams:

  • IRS Scam
  • Social Security Scam
  • Telephone Scams
  • Charity Scams
  • Romance Scams, “Cat phishing”
  • Investment Scams

All “successful” scams play on some want, need, or emotion. For instance, the IRS or Social Security scam often plays on the fear of identity theft or fear of not taking care of important business. Charity scams play on the need to do good or they want to help others, tugging at heartstrings. Investment scams run off the want to make easy money, and romance scams feed on the desire to find love.

If you have any other questions or fears,  please visit Fraud Education – Family Financial Credit Union Website (ff-cu.org)

On average, the average American has 7.1 social media sites. Social media is fun, but these have become a big source of information and “easy” victims of scammers and crime.

Common Social Media Scams:

  • “You Won!”, or “Free Gift Card!”
  • Gossip Scam
    • Gossip fraud can come in a variety of channels, the most common two are messages saying “is this really true about you??” or “Did you see this photo of you?”.
  • Healthcare Scam
  • “Account Cancelled”
  • 419/Nigerian Scam
  • “Help! I’m Stuck Abroad!”
    • This scam usually takes place when a friend or relative’s account is hacked. There are then messages sent out to people to get them to send money to ‘help the person out’.
  • IQ Scam
    • Here, there is a “test” to see your IQ, to then see the results, you are asked for a phone number, or to re-login to your social media site, giving the scammer access to your account and information.
  • “Click to See Who Has Viewed Your Profile!”

Keeping in mind, scams use emotions wants, and needs to draw the victim in. With Social media scams, there is the draw of the user’s reputation, like the gossip and “who viewed your profile” scams. From wanting to help a friend in need or quick cash, the emotional plays and scams are endless.

To combat these crafty scams, that sometimes feel very real, there are a few keys signs to look out for. . .

Signs It’s A Scam:

  1. There is a problem or a prize.
  2. This problem or prize requires immediate action and there is pressure for an immediate response.
    1. If the institution that is sending you the prize, or the problem, is legitimate, they will give you time to respond, there is no pressure for immediate action. If there is pressure, it could possibly be a scam.
  3. Specific pay instructions. This often comes with you giving wire or bank information for a prize or payment. z

If at any time, you are leery about a site, message, or notification, DO NOT ACT IMMEDIATELY. If it is a legitimate claim, they will give you an allotted time to respond. Talk to someone: Sometimes when it involves emotions, it is best to have someone else take a look. If it is a cat phish, sometimes we get wrapped up in our emotions, without looking at things from a logical perspective. If you have questions, don’t just redial the number or respond to the email. Do a quick google search for another name or number for that institution, and call them.

When dealing with anything, online or in person, DO NOT GIVE OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION. Keep social media sites set to private, protect your passwords, and protect yourself.

For more information regarding scams, fraud, or other risks, please check out FFCU’s Fraud Education center, Fraud Education – Family Financial Credit Union Website (ff-cu.org)


Be safe, be smart, and Happy New Year!

-Riley Hicks