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More Than 30% of Americans Have Been Victims of These 7 Financial Fraud Schemes: How To Protect Yourself

GOCMEN / Getty Images/iStockphoto
GOCMEN / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Have you ever lost money due to financial fraud? In August 2023, GOBankingRates surveyed 1,141 Americans to find out if respondents had been the victims of financial fraud. Those surveyed were given a number of options to show which types of financial fraud they faced.

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Here is how the seven common forms of financial fraud have impacted Americans and tips for how to protect yourself.

Which Types of Financial Fraud Have Americans Experienced?

From highest to lowest percentage, Americans surveyed who have been victims of financial fraud said they have experienced the following schemes.

  • Consumer fraud: 39%

  • Check fraud: 38%

  • Mail fraud: 22%

  • Business fraud: 17%

  • Investment fraud: 14%

  • Charity and disaster fraud: 6%

  • Elder fraud: 5%

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How Can You Protect Yourself From Financial Fraud Schemes?

Being a victim of financial fraud means potentially losing a large sum of money to scams as well as your personal information. The following tips can help you better protect yourself from these seven common schemes.

Be Skeptical

Many types of fraud, including investment fraud, often sound too good to be true. If someone is trying to sell you on a scheme that promises “guaranteed returns” or “no risk,” don’t fall for these persuasion tactics.

Don’t Give Out Your Personal or Financial Information

One of the simplest ways to keep from being the victim of fraud and scams or experiencing identity theft is to safeguard your personal and financial information.

The FTC says on its website that honest organizations will not call, email or text you asking for personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card numbers.

Don’t Feel Pressured To Act Immediately

A common fraudster tactic is pressuring people to act quickly. Several types of fraud, including mail fraud, pressure people to make immediate decisions.

If you feel like you’re being pressured to act quickly, there are several things you can do. The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) recommends getting all information in writing, reading the fine print and conducting due diligence, like researching the company or organization, before moving forward.

If you’re on the phone with someone and they’re pressuring you to make a decision right then and there, hang up. You can also block unwanted calls.

Conduct Due Diligence

If you receive an unsolicited email, phone call or text message, never feel pressured into conducting a transaction immediately — and never share your personal or financial information.

Do some research into the organization to determine its credibility. A few helpful places to get started include the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the state or local consumer protection agency.

Report It

Do you need to tell someone about any fraud, fraudulent companies or unwanted calls you dealt with? Help stop fraud and protect your community by reporting it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

You can report fraud, scams and bad business practices on this website by sharing what happened and getting the next steps for how to protect yourself and others.

Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,141 Americans aged 18 and older from across the country between August 2 and August 6, 2023, asking twenty different questions: (1) Have you ever been the victim of identity theft, a financial scam or financial fraud?; (2) If you have been a victim of identity theft, which type of theft did you experience?; (3) If you have been a victim of a financial scam, which type of scam did you experience? (select all that apply); (4) If you have been a victim of financial fraud, what type of fraud did you experience? (select all that apply); (5) Have you ever been scammed making any of the following purchases?; (6) All together, how much money have you lost due to identity theft, financial scams and/or financial fraud?; (7) If you lost money due to identity theft, a financial scam or financial fraud, were you reimbursed for it?; (8) What is the most common way you are contacted by scammers?; (9) How often do you change your bank account passwords?; (10) How do you keep your money safe while traveling? (select all that apply); (11) Where do you think is the safest place to keep your money?; (12) How much physical cash do you keep at home?; (13) If you have been scammed out of money when shopping online, how much did you lose?; (14) If you are retired, have you ever experienced these common retirement scams? (select all that apply); (15) Have you, or any of your family members, experienced a Social Security scam?; (16) If you have lost money from a tax scam, how much did you lose?; (17) Have you ever experienced a student loan forgiveness scam?; (18) What type of impact do you think identity theft has on its victims?; (19) What are some ways you protect yourself from identity theft today? (select all that apply); and (20) Do you have antivirus software installed on your computer?. GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: More Than 30% of Americans Have Been Victims of These 7 Financial Fraud Schemes: How To Protect Yourself