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By: AgFed Credit Union

Welcome to AgFed Credit Union's MoneyDig blog! 

Get confident about your personal finances with a number of articles, tips, advice and more.


Defying Deception: Protect Yourself from Financial Scams

 Apr 17, 2024
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In today’s digital world, financial predators could be lurking around every virtual corner. Scammers live to prey on our deepest fears and capitalize on our resulting panic. Whether it’s a fraudulent email claiming your credit union account has been compromised or a phone call insisting you owe unpaid taxes, fraudsters employ the same psychological tactics to induce fear and coerce you into immediate action.

Understanding how these predators and their tactics operate is the key to protecting yourself. In this article, we’ll reveal common aspects of financial scams and how to safeguard your accounts and money.

Fear & Scams Go Hand-in-Hand

Fear is a powerful emotion, and scammers know just how to exploit it. They fabricate scenarios that trigger panic to cloud your judgment and make you more susceptible to their schemes. Whether it’s the threat of legal action from the IRS or fear of unauthorized transactions draining your accounts, these scams are designed to evoke an immediate response and bypass your rational thinking.

Scam Red Flags

Recognizing the common characteristics of financial scams is the first step in protecting yourself. These scenarios often share similar tactics:

  • Inducing Fear and Emotions: Fraudsters create situations that evoke fear, anger, or urgency, impairing your ability to think logically.


  • Limited Time to Respond: They pressure you to act quickly, claiming immediate action is necessary to avoid dire consequences.


  • Unrelenting Pressure: Scammers may inundate you with threats and warnings, hoping to wear down your resistance and compel you to comply.

Common Scams

Here are some of the more prevalent scams targeting individuals across various platforms:

  • Account Activity Scams:

These may include notices of a compromised account, a payment made, or a recently reset password. In this scam, you’ll receive a fraudulent notification, albeit sometimes appearing real, claiming some recent account activity, and prompting you to reset your password or verify payment details.

  • Price Hike Scams:

You may receive notice that a particular bill, such as your phone bill, insurance, or other utilities, will soon increase dramatically. Scammers exploit rising costs and prey on economic concerns by falsely claiming significant price increases and urging you to click a link or call to address the issue.

  • Collection Calls:

Scammers start hounding you with fraudulent calls or emails alleging overdue payments, coercing you to settle the supposed debt immediately.

  • False Purchases:

Scammers claim you made an expensive purchase, such as a subscription to costly antivirus software, and insist that you must contact them to cancel or dispute the transaction.

  • IRS Warnings:

Everyone fears the IRS and takes their threats more seriously. Impersonating government agencies like the IRS, scammers issue threats of legal action or fines. From fraudulent collection notices to stating that a false return was filed in your name, the scammers demand immediate payment or personal information to remedy the situation.

How You Can Protect Yourself from Scams

Follow these tips to keep yourself safe from financial scams:

  • Stay Calm:

When confronted with a suspicious message or call, take a breather before doing anything. Scammers thrive on impulsive reactions and want you to react immediately, so resist the urge to act hastily. Look at the problem realistically rather than through the lens of your heightened emotional state. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and settle yourself into a place of acting logically rather than emotionally.

  • Check Links & Sender Information:

Never click an unsolicited link or attachment in an email or text. First, check the links by hovering over them to display the URL – is it a legitimate or fake link? For example, vs. Then, check the sender’s email address. This is often a dead giveaway and will typically be a random email address rather than being associated with the company the scammer is pretending to replicate.

  • Contact the Company Directly:

If you’re ever in doubt, do not click on links or call/text phone numbers provided. Instead, visit the company’s website and log into your account as you usually would. Are there any alerts or messages? You can also contact the company directly by calling the number listed on their website or chatting online (if applicable).


We’re Here to Help!

Staying informed and vigilant is vital to safeguarding your finances against scams. By recognizing red flags and remaining calm, you can protect yourself from falling victim to fraudulent schemes. Remember that caution is your greatest asset when it comes to financial security.

If you suspect you were targeted by a scam or if you have been a victim of fraud, contact us immediately. Our team is here to support you and guide you through any issues or concerns. Please give us a call at 202-479-2270 to speak with a team member.