North Brookfield Savings Bank Shares Types of Scams and their Red Flags

Scams. It is not a topic that most people want to talk about, think about, or believe affects them. They often think it won’t happen to them and that they are not going to be tricked. However, scams happen every day to unsuspecting and smart people that come from of all walks of life and it is certainly not something to be ashamed of should it happen to you.

Unfortunately, scams will probably always be something that we will have to watch out for and be vigilant about. However, by learning about various types of scams, along with staying alert to red flags, you can help to prevent you, or your loved ones, from becoming victims.

This is why North Brookfield Savings Bank has compiled this quick overview of some of the scams you should familiarize yourself with. This is not a complete list so it is important to periodically check in for what scams you should be watching for.


First, what exactly is a scam?

A scam is a trick a con artist plays on an unsuspecting victim to extort money. If the scam succeeds, the victim’s money is gone, and the scammer will move on to the next victim. A scammer is the ultimate salesperson with a tempting offer or a skilled liar with a plausible story. They may use your vulnerabilities or appeal to your emotions all in an effort to gain your trust. They may insist on secrecy, push for you to take immediate action, need money up front, request hard-to-track payment methods, or be extremely intimidating or persistent. These are all red flags you should be aware of because it may signal a scam.




Overview: If you receive an unexpected check in the mail, accompanied by a letter with instructions urging you to deposit or cash the check, SLOW DOWN, this is probably a check scam. Give yourself a chance to think. Before you act, talk a trusted friend or contact your bank. Many variations of check scams exist. They may want to pay you by check and to wire money in return, or may be offering for you to buy something, pay you to work at home, or as a “secret shopper”, or offer an advance on a sweepstakes prize you won and request you send back taxes and fees. Stay alert.

Red Flags:

  • Unexpected check arrives
  • Promises of gifts or money
  • Expresses urgency
  • Seems too good to be true




Overview: A Lottery Scam often begins with scammers telling that you have won a lottery or sweepstake raffle. The consumer is issued a check worth more than the amount owed and instructed to pay taxes and fees before receiving a lump sum payment. Unfortunately, the check – in addition to the raffle – is fake!

Red Flags:

  • You won a lottery or raffle
  • You did not enter a lottery or raffle
  • Issued a check with increased about
  • Instructed to pay taxes and fees before receiving lottery payment
  • Seems too good to be true




Overview: Scammers call you claiming to be a family member that has found themselves in serious trouble and needs your help. The scammer pretending to be your family member, says that he has been mugged, is stranded, or is in trouble and does not want their parent to know. They may even call in the middle of the night to catch you off guard and to make it more urgent and confusing. The scammer will request you send money by wire and once the money is wired you will realize that it was not your family member, it was a scammer. Remember, the scammer may disguise their voice by crying and probably researched to find out your grandchild’s name to make it all the more convincing.

Red Flags:

  • Unexpected call from grandchild with emergency
  • Pleading, crying to disguise voice
  • Appealing to your emotions
  • Somethings feels off
  • Expresses urgency
  • Asks you to wire money




Overview: Scammers call you claiming to be officials from the IRS. They demand that you pay a bogus tax bill. They try to convince you to send cash, usually through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card or gift card. Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use your name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Red Flags:

  • A call from the IRS – The IRS will NEVER call you!
  • Demand for payment
  • Expresses urgency
  • Asks for debit or credit numbers over the phone
  • Threats of involving law enforcement and arrest
  • Refusal of an appeal or additional questions answered




Overview: Scammers will try a variety of tactics to make contact with you and establish a conversation or collect information about you. Common social media scams include impersonating a friend, fake reviews, diverting consumers to phishing sites, fraudulent sales and gathering personal data. The nature of social media provides plenty of information for would-be scammers to exploit and gain your trust. It has become increasingly easy for scammers to imitate legitimate brands and entice consumers with offers that are too good to be true. Don’t share personal or sensitive information on your social media profiles to make it harder for the scammers to collect data. Do not share your profile with anyone you do not know and keep your profiles set to ‘private’ in the settings.

Red Flags:

  • A second profile of a friend
  • A friend request from someone you don’t know
  • A friend request from someone you do know that does not seem ‘right’
  • A friend begins acting out of character on social media
  • A social media friends begins messaging you with links, sales, or requesting information




Overview: The phantom debt collection scam comes in a number of variations, but the common element in almost all of them is a claim that you owe money on a debt and need to pay or else face serious consequences. Regardless of whether you actually took out the loan, you may receive a call later demanding money be paid.

Red Flags:

  • Unexpected call about a debt
  • Expresses urgency
  • May pose as law enforcement
  • Threatens consequences (such as damaging your credit score, court etc.)
  • Asks for your personal information
  • Asks for debit or credit numbers over the phone
  • May refuse to give a mailing address or phone number to call back





What is phishing? Scammers send out unsolicited, or spam emails that appear to be from a legitimate source; perhaps from your bank, school, well-known merchants, your internet service provider, or even a trusted government agency and attempt to trick you into divulging personal information.

What is pharming? Scammers seek to obtain personal or private information by making fake websites appear legitimate. Your internet browser will seem like you are at the correct website. This makes pharming more difficult to detect than phishing.

Phishing & Pharming go hand-in-hand:  First, scammers build a fake website that looks legitimate. Next, they sends out thousands of phishing emails with a link to the fake website. Then, victims click the link in email believing it is legitimate and enter personal information. Last, scammers compile the stolen data to sell online or use themselves. Don’t click on links in emails that ask for personal information, never open unexpected attachments, and delete suspicious emails or links, even if you know the source. If you want to visit a website visit it directly and not through a link in an email.

Red Flags:

  • Unexpected emails from places you don’t normally get emails from
  • Links that are slightly off, maybe by one letter
  • Email addresses that are slightly off, maybe by one letter
  • Links that when hovered over with your mouse go to another address
  • Emails with unexpected attachments
  • Any suspicious emails or links

How to tell if a website is legitimate:

  • Look at the URL of the website. If it begins with “https” instead of “http” it means the site is secured using an SSL Certificate (the S stands for secure).
  • Internet browsers that show a green address bar with a lock icon are websites that are secured with EV certificates.




Overview: GoFundMe is an American for-profit crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events ranging from life events such as celebrations and graduations to challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses. Many times scammers create a false campaign on GoFundMe. They create a sad story to pull at your heartstrings in hopes that they will trick you to donate, when in reality the money is going right into their pocket for personal use. It is important to only donate when you are familiar with the person and feel confident that they are using the funds for the intended purpose they included on the page.

Red Flags:

  • There are duplicate campaign profiles that look the same
  • It is unclear how the campaign organizer is related to the sad story
  • You receive a request to support a GoFundMe from someone you do not know, or trust
  • There is a lack of comments/supporters on the campaign
  • The story does not add up
  • The story has minimal detail




Overview: You may be looking for safe investment options. Investing is a great way to grow the balance of your funds that are not in use. However, you have to be careful! Scammers are on the lookout for people just like you. They act as if they work for an investment company or firm and their hope is to get the money you plan on “investing”. The trick is that they run off with this money without a trace! Many times, they even provide an offer, such as “no-risk” investments or “guaranteed returns” to build your confidence in them before they steal your hard-earned cash. When in doubt only trust reputable

Red Flags & What to Watch For:

  • Be very cautious when dealing with companies claiming to be out of your area or foreign. This makes it a lot easier to run off with funds in bank accounts regulated by other countries.
  • Don’t trust a person or company by their website alone, a professional came be set up for free in just minutes and the these scammers are pros!
  • Do not make an investment before doing your research!
  • Check the validity of this person or company online using reviews and other sources.
  • Beware of offers that seem too good to be true. Many of these “great” offers come through unsolicited email as well as internet advertisements.




Overview: You may be on the outlook for charitable causes to which you can donate.  However, there may be scammers out there just waiting for the opportunity to take your money and not for the reasons they are stating. Here are tips to help you avoid charity scams. Most importantly, before donating to an organization do your research! Make sure you know who you are donating to and that those funds are being used the way they were promised.

Red Flags:

  • Contributions are not tax deductible
  • Lack of information found on the charitable organizations president or committee members
  • Pressure to donate
  • Unable to find additional information on charity
  • Requesting you share you debit or credit information over the phone
  • Requesting your personal identifying information
  • Requesting cash only donations
  • Requests for wire transfers or electronic donations




Overview: With elections nearing, this is the time to be aware of political donation scams. Want to donate to the campaign of your favorite politician? That is great! Just make sure you are sure you are donating to the actual politician and not a scammer. Scammers may pretend be campaigning for a party and collect funds, that they later spend on themselves and never get to the political party intended for the donation. The scammers may spoof a candidate’s phone number, making it appear as if calls are coming from them. They may even use recordings of the politician, making it seem totally legitimate. If you want to contribute to a political campaign, visit the official website of your candidate or call the campaign headquarters to make your donation directly. You should never provide credit card or financial information over the phone to an unknown person.

Red Flags:

  • The recorded voice audio of the candidate sounds edited together
  • Caller is pushy and demands immediate action
  • Asks you to provide your debit or credit card number over the phone
  • Caller promises a reward such as a gift card for answering survey questions and then asks for a debit or credit card number to pay for the shipping of the reward.
  • No information to be found on the candidate



What To Do If You Have Been Scammed

If you feel you are a victim of a scam or identity theft, it is important to act fast! Contact the financial institutions or credit card companies where you feel your information has been compromised, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, file a report with your local police department, and contact one of the 3 major credit bureaus to report what has happened and to add a fraud alert to your credit reports. It may be wise to also contact the IRS, Social Security Administration and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to follow up. Always keep notes of who you contacted and when.

Report Fraud, Scams & Identity Theft



We’re Here to Help

As always, North Brookfield Savings Bank is here to help you. We provide comprehensive resources through our online Security Center that lets you quickly take action, based on the scam type, through our Report Fraud and Scams webpage. You can also contact us if you need to speak with a North Brookfield Savings Bank representative about your concerns.