Top 7 ways to protect yourself from consumer fraud

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Thursday, March 9, 2023
Top 7 ways to protect yourself from consumer fraud
Consumers are losing billions to consumer fraud, the largest amount ever. Nina Pineda has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Consumers are losing billions to consumer fraud, the largest amount ever.

The frauds have never been more elaborate or convincing, but 7 On Your Side has the top seven ways to scam-proof your bank account.

It is Consumer Fraud Protection Week, and a good time to remind each other how rampant everyday fraud has become.

Most of us get a scam text, call, or email from someone looking to scam at least a few times a week, if not every day.

Fraud has cost American consumers $8.8 billion last year, that's a 44% increase over 2021.

What's odd is the number of reports to the Federal Trade Commission dropped, but the cash amount criminals got away with grew. So, it's more important than ever to stay one step ahead of the scammers.

Convenience comes with a cost, our ability to quickly send cash, pay bills online, and stay connected at all times has made stealing money as simple as sending a text and asking for it.

The number one way to not be a victim is to hang up, or delete, if someone calls, texts, or emails saying you owe money and makes a threat, that your accounts have been hacked and wants you to provide password, and asks to verify a transfer.

"I was sick to my stomach," said Barbara Zyhajlo, a scam victim.

Convinced her Bank of America account was hacked, Zyhajlo was instructed by a bank imposter to Zelle herself the account balance. It went straight to a stranger's account. 7 On Your Side got her reimbursed, but the banks and money transfer apps will not pay customers back, often blaming consumers for enabling the fraud.

"On any given day this goes out to a billion people, they just need a few who actually respond," said Robert Rodriguez, New York Secretary of State.

Rodriguez oversees the Division of Consumer Protection.

He reminds people to never click on links emailed to you, and do not call back or text numbers that call you.

Hold off and verify transaction conversations and verify the other party who is on the other line.

Always call the number on your bill or bank card, and remember it's very easy to display a fake caller name.

The owner of an import-export company in Fairfield thought she was contacted by PSE&G threatening to cut her power cut off, seeing the QR code with the company logo she ran to a Bitcoin machine to pay the power company a thousand bucks, but it was all a con.

Utilities, government groups, banks or computer companies will not demand to be paid in Crypto, Bitcoin, or gift cards.

Never buy gift cards and provide codes off the back, a request to do so is always a scam.

It's National Slam the Scam day. So register for the Do Not Call Registry. Use a Robo Call blocking app, and report fraud to the BBB and FTC.

ALSO READ | 7 On Your Side breaks down how to avoid the top 7 tax-related scams

7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has the top seven tax scams and the ways to avoid them. Nina Pineda has the story.



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