Protect Yourself

Protecting yourself from scam artists requires vigilance and knowledge about how criminals use phone, email, postal mail and the internet to access personal and financial information. The Federal Trade Commission outlines 10 steps you can take to avoid scams.

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  • Be careful about wiring money: Once money is wired, it's gone. Don't wire money to strangers or to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment. 
  • Don't send money to strangers: This includes online merchants you're not familiar with or people you meet online who ask for money or favors. Do business only with sites you know and trust, but never send cash or use a wire transfer service.
  • Ignore messages seeking personal or financial information: No matter how professional the communication appears, never reveal this information. United Community Bank will never ask for your account or personal information by email.
  • Do not play a foreign lottery: These are illegal to play in the first place, but you'll also be asked to pay a tax or fee to collect your "prize." If you send the money, it's gone and you won't get it back.
  • Do not agree to deposit a check from someone you don't know and then wire money back: If you deposit a check that turns out to be counterfeit, you're responsible for paying back the bank.
  • Monitor your bills and monthly statements regularly: Identity thieves can steal account information, run up charges and commit crimes in your name.
  • Donate money only to established charities: Avoid the charities that seem to pop up overnight following a disaster. The FTC provides more information about charity fraud.
  • Consult your doctor before buying health products or receiving medical treatments: Buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies; otherwise, your products could be fake, expired, mislabeled and possibly dangerous. The FTC provides more information about health and wellness fraud.
  • There's no such thing as a sure thing: When you hear pitches insisting you act immediately, promise huge profits with little risk or demand cash payment now, report those people to United Community Bank or the FTC.
  • Know who's making you an offer. Get their physical address and phone number. Search online for information about the company and pay attention to any negative reviews. The Better Business Bureau can offer additional information.