Fraud Friday: What’s an Imposter Scam?

Avoiding fraud may sound like a simple task, but some of the most common scams don’t look or feel like scams at all. Impersonation or imposter fraud involves the scammer posing as someone else entirely. We’ve put together some of the most common types of these scams with tips to protect yourself!

3 Common Types of Imposter Scams:

Romance or Friend in Need Scams

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Love can make you do crazy things”. Well, fraudsters have heard it too and what they love is to use vulnerability from emotions to get ahold of your hard-earned money. These relationships typically begin and take place online either through dating websites, apps or through email correspondence. Things will start out normal but as they gain your trust, things will quickly change. They’ll share a story designed to pull at your heartstrings, one of the most common ones being a sick relative who can no longer pay for medical assistance. They may ask for smaller amounts of money consistently over time or one large amount all at once. Either way, the money is likely not going where they claim it is.

Impersonating a Real-Life Friend or Relative

Some scammers will put in the time to build a new relationship with you, but others will jump right over this step and instead pose as someone you already know. An example of this is receiving a text from someone claiming to be your friend or relative. They’ll say their phone died so they are using someone else’s and will give you an account number to transfer money to or ask for your card information so they can get home or get out of a tough situation. They will create a sense of urgency, not allowing time for you to reach out to the real person they are claiming to be.

Computer and Internet Repair

When it comes to technology, not everyone can be an IT genius, which is why we rely on the help of others with our gadgets. Scammers use this to their advantage by posing as someone trying to help repair your computer. These scams normally start by receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be with a tech security or internet provider letting you know your device has a virus or your internet is down. They need access to your computer to fix it or want to compensate you for the inconvenience and just need your bank account number to transfer the funds. Either way, by providing them your information you’ve welcomed them into your finances and given them an opening to take what they can.

How to Protect Yourself from Imposter Scams:

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If a number outside your contacts is calling, they can always leave a voicemail. This automatically deters some scammers since they’re likely calling a list of numbers and will just move on to their next call.
  • Listen to your instincts. If your head is contradicting your heart, that’s a sign something isn’t quite right. It’s natural to want to help someone, but make sure everything about the story makes sense and funds are sent in the safest way, such as through a legitimate non-profit donation.
  • Take time to think. If someone is asking for money or your information right away, not giving you time to pause and think, it is likely because they’re lying. If they get agitated when you ask for some time to think and get back to you, it’s because they don’t want you to think about it too much.
  • Ask for a second opinion. If you are thinking of sending money or your information to someone but something feels a little off, seek the opinion of someone else. Confide in a long-time friend or family member about what’s going on as they can help you see things clearly, without emotions taking over. If someone is claiming to be a company, call their official number to make sure you’re really speaking to a representative of theirs.

At Northern, your peace of mind is our top priority. If you have any questions about account security or if you think your personal information has fallen into the wrong hands, contact us by calling 315.782.0155, connect with us via Video Banking or visit any of our relationship centers.