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Protecting Yourself from Scammers: How They Know So Much

Unfortunately, scamming is on the rise. And it’s not just the elderly that are targeted — anyone could fall for a well-crafted scam. Protecting your finances from scammers should always be a priority. Education is the first step.

Some of us tend to receive a lot of questionable phone calls, sketchy emails, and even dubious snail mail. Additionally, these days, it seems they know perhaps quite a bit more information than they should about us.

How do these crooks know so much anyway? It’s true, they may be good at uncovering information about us – they’re tricky, it’s what they do. However, we also tend to freely give up a lot of information about ourselves as well- especially during phone calls.

The scammers often become unintended and unwanted audiences for our posts online and more. Here are a few of the ways you might end up on their radar.

You fill out surveys

If you commonly fill out various questionnaires and surveys, you’re likely giving up a lot of information about yourself. Not only do marketing firms buy and use data from surveys, but criminals can also learn from them as well.

Surveys can provide information regarding everything from your household income to travel preferences and where you live. They may even include information about your home, your car, and more.

You share personal information on social media

This one is huge when it comes to how information is gathered. Often, we share tidbits about our life and inadvertently give the world entirely too much information.

There are two ways to combat scammers that are searching social media for information about you. For one thing, try to avoid posting obvious personal information – such as your phone number or anything related to your finances. Secondly, try to avoid posting real-time updates regarding your current whereabouts. Lastly, and most importantly, check your security settings.

Try to ensure your account is locked down and only visible to close friends and family. Also, don’t add new friends that you don’t know personally.

You simply live in the U.S.

Unfortunately, living in the U.S. also makes you an easy target. There are lots of public records available online that anyone can search through. This includes property records, census data, and much, much more.

Sadly, it’s completely legal for companies to compile this information and sell it to anyone they please.

You’ve recently lost a loved one

Obituaries are another leading place that scammers and crooks look to find information. Here, they learn the names of vulnerable family members – widows/widowers, children, grandchildren, and more.

It’s important that we honor those we’ve lost, but it’s also imperative that personal information is kept to a minimum.

You enter lots of contests

Like surveys, contests tend to collect a lot of information about you as well. Plus, many of them open you up to receiving unwanted phone calls and sales pitches.

Also, not only have they collected your name and other personal information, but they also know you believe in luck.  You’d better believe they have you on their phone list.

You throw out mail

Anytime you receive mail that includes personal information, it should be shredded. By tossing mail directly in the garbage, it gives scammers free rein to go dumpster diving for your data, which they’ll then use to either open accounts in your name or call you on the phone to derive even more information.

If you don’t have your own shredder, there are plenty of office stores that can shred stuff for you. Plus, there are also special events you can attend to have things shredded for free, too.

Even if your garbage seems gross, that may not deter a crook from going through it anyway.  It is much better than having to spend time on a phone with a would-be scam artist!

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