How to avoid scams
Know the red flags
Scammers will target you through fake emails, text messages, voice calls, letters, or even show up unexpectedly at your front door. No matter which technique the scammer uses, here’s some red flags of a scam:
- You’re instructed not to trust Merrill or Bank of America associates, or to respond to questions in untruthful ways
- You’re pressured to act urgently
- You’re threatened with law enforcement or a government agency action
- You’re told to purchase gift cards and provide codes as a form of payment
- You’re asked to open an account or deposit a check from someone you don’t know, and then wire some or all of the money back out
- Your wire recipient’s info changes at the last minute (particularly during significant purchases, such as home closings)
Know the ways to protect your money (before you send a wire)
There are many convenient ways to send money to people you know. However, if you authorize a transfer or send money to a scammer, there’s often little we can do to help get your money back. That’s why we encourage you to talk with your Merrill Advisor about ways to protect yourself and your money before wiring or transferring funds. Taking these steps can help you reduce the risk of falling victim to scams:
- Always validate wire instructions. Speak directly with your wire recipient using a phone number you’ve independently verified
- Give all requests for funds a second look. If an email looks strange, confirm the sender is legitimate and represents a real company or service (don’t use the number they provide)
- Never trust unknown individuals or businesses. Verify everything they claim and do not send money or sensitive information to anyone whose identity you can’t confirm
Know the scams
Scammers use different tactics to get victims to fall for their schemes. In some cases, they can be friendly, sympathetic and seem willing to help. In others, they use fear tactics to persuade a victim. Here are some common scam types, and examples of the deceptive emails or text messages scammers may send in attempt to steal your personal and financial information:
Want to learn more? Read about the red flags of senior financial exploitation and make sure to visit the AARP page for additional resources on fraud and scams.
Know the best ways to avoid being scammed
- Don’t respond: If you’re not 100% certain of the source of the call, email or text, then hang up the phone, don’t click on the link in the email and don’t reply to the text message.
- Don’t trust caller ID or answer phone calls from unknown numbers: If you recognize the caller ID but the call seems suspicious, hang up the phone. Phone numbers and caller ID can be easily spoofed to appear to be from a legitimate caller.
- Don’t give out your information: Never provide any personally identifiable information unless you’re absolutely certain the person and reason are legitimate. Remember: Merrill or Bank of America associates will never ask you to provide access codes, personal and financial information via email, text, unsolicited callers or pop-ups. Your advisor will never ask you to do this.
- Research and validate: If the individual or organization seems suspicious, make sure the request being made is legitimate by calling the organization through an official number from their website, the Better Business Bureau or consulting with a trusted family member or friend.
If you feel you may have been a victim of a scam, contact us immediately at 1.800.MERRILL (637.7455) or speak to your financial advisor.
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