New Year, New Habits

Area Agency on Aging - Your Aging & Disability Resource Center
January 7, 2020


New Year, New Habits


Maybe you planned to ring in 2020 with a resolution to quit smoking, eat healthier or exercise more. These resolutions are good for your health, but new habits take practice before you see results. The New Year is also a great time to start new financial habits to protect yourself from becoming the victim of a scam.

Every year, millions of people fall victim to scams sent through the mail, email, phone calls, text messages, in-person or online. Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels across the U.S.

Below are 10 habits to start this year to protect your money from scammers.


Monitor bank accounts every day, or at least once per week

  • Even if you have not lost your debit/credit card, it is possible for someone else to make fraudulent charges on your account. If you check all of your accounts as frequently as possible, you can catch and report suspicious transactions right away.

Check your credit report at least once per year with each of the 3 credit bureaus. This is free!

Ignore phone calls from unknown, unavailable, private or strange phone numbers

  • Do not return missed calls from unknown numbers or missed calls where the phone only rang for a few seconds

Do not let yourself be pressured – take time to stop and think

  • Scammers try to make a situation feel urgent by setting a deadline, rushing you, threatening you, or saying you must act right away
    • They want you to make a decision right away, without thinking
  • If you feel pressured into doing something, take a step back and hang up. Then, do your research and call a number you know to verify
  • It is important to stop and think, no matter how urgent the situation may sound!


If you have already responded to a scam, end all communication immediately and call the police!


Never give personal details to anyone who calls, texts or emails you

  • If someone calls and asks you to verify your identity or provide your personal information, HANG UP right away
  • To verify whether the call was legitimate, call a number you know
    • For example, if someone calls and says they are from your bank, hang up and then call your bank using the number listed on your bank card
    • This way, you can be sure that the person you are speaking to is a representative of the company and not a scammer who has altered their caller ID
  • Always double-check!


Never send or wire money to a stranger

  • If you are asked to send money to someone you don't know, even if they say they are from a reputable business, HANG UP and call the police
    • If you believe the call might be legitimate, call back a number you know to double-check
  • Once you wire cash (especially overseas), it is virtually impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money

If you receive an email, letter, or phone call saying you won a prize or a competition you did not enter, do not reply, HANG UP!

  • You cannot win a contest you did not enter. If someone says you did, they are a scammer.

Legitimate companies will NOT ask you to make payments or donations via foreign banks, gift cards, prepaid cards, money transfers, cryptocurrency, or by mailing cash.

If a caller requests payment using one of these methods, HANG UP and call the police.


Bank Card Pick-Up Scam: Never allow ANYONE you don’t know to come to your home to pick up your debit or credit card

  • Your bank will NEVER send someone to your house to pick up your card
    • If there is fraud on your account, the bank will cancel your card immediately and mail you a new one
  • If anyone calls you pretending to be from your bank and wants to come to your home to retrieve your card, HANG UP and call the police


Your bank or credit card company will NEVER send someone to your house to pick up your debit or credit card.


Watch out for poor grammar or spelling

  • If you receive an email or letter that appears to come from a bank or company, but it has strange wording or several spelling mistakes, it is a scam
  • Banks and companies spend time and money to proofread their emails before sending, but scammers’ emails often contain mistakes

If you’ve been scammed, ALWAYS report it right away!

  • Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can fall prey to a sneaky scam
  • Reporting the crime does not guarantee the scammer will be caught or that you’ll get your money back, but it can help an investigation and prevent others from being caught by the same scammer


What do I do if I’ve already been scammed?

  • If you responded to a scam, end all communication immediately
  • Call your bank to tell them about the fraud and cancel any pending payments to the scammer
  • Report the scam to the police


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