No one wants to fall victim to fraudulent letters or scams and with today’s technologies, these cons can arrive in a number of ways, whether that be through direct mail or email. These letters sound convincing as they can impersonate an attorney, financial institution, or government agency. It is best to be cautious, especially when receiving unexpected communication, and learn how to detect warning signs.
It is always a good practice to take a second look at an official letter or email and never click on the link provided or respond to a phone number included, even if your initial take is that the communication is real. If you suspect an email or letter is suspicious prior to responding, take a few extra minutes and look up the website or phone number in question. This allows you to obtain the correct contact information and mitigate further repercussions from being caught in a scam.
Here are some methods that can help determine whether a letter is fraudulent:
- The Header and/or Footer of a document look inserted and inconsistent
- Your identification or account number is not properly displayed; this number should be directly stated and never censored by inserting the star symbol (*) or pound symbol (#)
- The sender’s address does not match the address listed on the legitimate website
- Government agencies rarely included and individual contact name and title within an official letter
- Most official letters would state the department, jurisdiction or tax center it was distributed and sent from
- The sender’s email address does not correlate to the email senders listed name, business or agency
Fraudulent letters generally state some type of action is required by the receiver. An example of this would be that a third-party has recently tried to access the account and you are required to call a phone number listed to solve the security issue. Once the scammer has you on the phone they will ask standardized and general questions, convincing you to reveal personal information they can use.
Being aware of the methods used, helps prevent these situations from happening to you. Teaching these approaches to others can help protect them and yourself in a professional and personal setting.