Useful tips to stay safe from scams that can cost you money

As we grow older we are more vulnerable to being scams especially financially scams. Team RetyrSmart would like our readers to be extremely alert to guard against scams of any type and have extracted a list of very useful tips that can help you stay safe.

Useful tips to stay safe from scams that can cost you money


• Someone claiming to represent the IRS, police or other government office asks for payment via gift cards or money wires. No legitimate government agency does this. Not ever.

• Someone instructs you to lie or keep secrets from anyone. Only scammers expect you to deceive your bank or your family.

• You're offered a "great deal" that sounds too good to be true.

• You receive a check for something you're selling on Craigslist or eBay or for a work-at-home opportunity, and the check contains an overpayment or you're asked to wire part of the money to someone.

• You're pressured to respond immediately to offers that are time sensitive and prices that "can't be guaranteed" to last.

• A caller/emailer uses intimidation. For example, "You are under federal investigation" or "You will be arrested within one hour unless you call this number."

• A caller pressures you to make a decision without getting other people's opinions.

• A red flag pops up when you do an online search. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like "review," "complaint" or "scam." Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like "IRS call." You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.


• Let calls from numbers you don't recognize go to voicemail, even if they seem local. If you get a message that sounds like a scam or threat, do not dial that number back. You'll only get more scam calls. If you inadvertently answer, don't press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That too could lead to more calls.

• If you get a call or email purporting to be from a company like your bank, call your bank using a number you obtain independently, not the number from the message.

• Don't believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren't always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

• Don't give out your phone number to anyone who doesn't absolutely need it.

• If you use dating sites, NEVER send money or compromising photos to anyone -- especially someone you haven't met in person.

• People tend to be vulnerable to scams when they're worried about money, grieving a loss, panicking or dealing with their own or a loved one's illness. If you're going through a tough time, promise yourself you won't make sudden decisions about money without consulting a trusted friend or relative. A friend may have clarity or a perspective that you don't on that particular day.

• Don't send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request -- whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email, and no matter who the person claims to be: a charity, the IRS, a needy grandchild in jail, etc.

• Don't pay upfront for a promise, such as an advance payment for things like debt relief, a loan or grant, mortgage assistance or a job. They might even say that you've won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. There is no prize.

• Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert, or just tell a friend.

• Don't deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you're responsible for repaying the bank.

• Likewise, don't accept any kind of check, even a cashier's check or money order, as payment for something you're selling unless you know the person. If you turn over your car or a piece of furniture or whatever, your property is gone and the check could turn up as fake in a couple of weeks. Too bad so sad for you. It's better to get paid with cash or through PayPal, Zelle, Venmo or go to the person's bank branch with them and actually watch the cashier's check being issued.

• With your bank and credit card companies, sign up to get email or text alert notifications of any account changes or transactions that exceed parameters you set.

• Sign up for two-step verification for your email account, bank, credit cards, eBay, etc., so that a code (sent to your email or phone) is required to change account information.

• Avoid paying someone you don't know well, especially an individual, with a check from your primary checking account. You don't know who you're giving your checking account number and routing number to.

• Don't spray your personal information all over social media. Limit the information you put on your Facebook profile, for example, like where you were born, every city you've ever lived in, etc. This information can be mined to steal your identity. And don't take those silly quizzes on Facebook that invade your privacy.

Compiled by the FTC, Cleveland BBB, Cuyahoga Consumer Affairs office and The Plain Dealer.. .