MSU EXTENSION: How to identify scams

By Vivian Washington

Michigan State University Extension

There are three classifications of people. Those who were scammed. Those who are being scammed, and those who will be scammed. Billions of dollars are lost each year because of fraudulent activity. Here are steps that consumers can take to reduce their chances of being duped by a scammer:

  • Research the organizations that you are considering: Search for the organization on the internet. Look for a phone number and physical address, not a P.O. box. A physical address can be verified by the United States Post Office. Contact the Better Business Bureau for information about companies.
  • Review your credit report: Inspect your credit reports to verify that the information is correct. Free credit reports are available by calling 1-877-322-8228 or online. Report any discrepancies (in writing) to the credit reporting agencies. They are Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
  • Review your monthly billing statements: Review your statements for accuracy. Contact your creditor if you have any issues with your account.
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers: Do not provide your personal information or send money to any entity that is unfamiliar to you or you cannot verify.
  • Avoid high-pressure tactics where you are coerced into making a quick decision.
  • Don’t click on links in your email: Phony emails are designed to resemble emails from authentic organizations. Clicking on the link can activate malware which may release viruses. These viruses can destroy your operating system or steal your personal information.
  • Obey your intuition: Avoid situations or proposals that don’t seem right.

If you have questions about consumer protection, or personal finance, or would like to ask an expert, Michigan State University Extension has access to many resources. Visit the MI Money Health page for more information and answers to your questions.