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How to Spot Financial Scams: Protect Yourself 5 Ways

  • Posted on July 05, 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • Scammers often target students and seniors because they may be less experienced with managing their finances or with newer technology.
  • Signs of a scam include messages that come out of nowhere, pressure to act immediately, typos in the message, and requests to pay in a new way.
  • If you're ever unsure whether a message is legitimate, call the company directly using a phone number you know is valid.

Have you ever been scammed? At best, it feels terrible. At worst, it causes real financial damage. Last year, fraud was up more than 70% over the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Students and seniors may be at higher risk of being scammed because scammers think students may have less experience managing their finances, and seniors may be less savvy with newer technology. Use these five tips to protect yourself and share them with the people you love.

The Message Comes Out of Nowhere

Let’s say you pay your monthly electric bill, on time, every time, and you rarely receive communication from the utility company beyond your monthly statement. Then you receive a text from the company telling you that your bill is past due, and your electricity will be turned off today if you don’t pay. When a company reaches out to you in an unusual, unexpected way, don’t engage.

You Have to Act Now

Scammers don’t want to give you time to think their message through. They want you to be so scared something bad will happen that you act on emotion and pay up. Legitimate companies offer many reminders and opportunities for customers to keep their accounts current well before cut-off dates.

Message Details Are Unusual for the Sender

Large business processes have people on staff who make sure their messages are clear and error-free. If a typo jumps out at you in a message, it’s likely a scam. Listen to your gut if anything seems unprofessional or off.

Check out email addresses and web addresses, too. Scammers often create an email or website address that sounds close to a legitimate business, but they can’t send it from the business’s actual domain. For instance, United’s domain is: Our emails and web pages always have this real domain in our address.

You’re Asked to Pay in a New Way

Do you like writing paper checks or tend to auto-pay bills online? If you never pay particular bills through payment apps like Zelle or wire transfers from your bank, the request to pay differently (and immediately) is probably a scam.

You’re Asked for Personal Information

Legitimate companies like United will never ask you to give a full account number, PIN, or social security number online or over the phone.

When in doubt, call a number you trust. Before you respond to a suspicious message, call our customer service number 1-800-UCBANK1 (1-800-822-2651). You can reach us during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 8:00am–6:00pm ET, and Saturday, 9:00am–12:00pm ET. After hours? Email us, and we’ll respond the next business day. We’re here to help you stay safe out there.

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