We seem to hear about a new online scam nearly every week. While the internet has changed the world for the better in many ways, there is a downside. Online scams are still widely prevalent, and despite the misconception that they are primarily a concern for senior citizens, a recent study by the FTC found(Opens in a new Window) that more millennials than retirees are now getting scammed out of money online. Everyone can be susceptible to these acts if they are not cautious. 

How to report a scammer

Do you think you or someone you know is getting scammed? Here’s how to report a scammer and form a paper trail of evidence against fraudsters:

If you suspect you’ve become a victim of fraud or identity theft, contact ACCESSbank right away by calling 402.763.6000 or visiting one of our branches. Report suspicious activity, lost or stolen cards and all other fraud immediately.

When it comes to protecting yourself online, knowledge is power. Learn more about how we monitor suspicious activity of our customer’s accounts and work to keep you alerted on what is going on. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
The Better Business Bureau warns(Opens in a new Window) about online fraud happening within Facebook. It starts with a “friend or relative” who contacts you through Facebook saying you are entitled to free money. These can come from fake profiles or hacked accounts. The catch? You need to pay up front for shipping or processing or provide other sensitive information that can be used for identity theft.

Follow these tips to avoid a Facebook hack or scam:

  • Don’t give out your password (and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts)
  • Avoid accepting unknown friend requests
  • Use a secured network, not public Wi-Fi, when signing into any accounts (especially your bank account)
  • Keep apps, browsers and antivirus software updated

The Federal Trade Commission has been getting reports of people getting letters in the mail from a law firm. They are, they say, looking for the heir of a multi-million-dollar inheritance. And they think it might be you. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)

Here’s what they offer: they’ll split the inheritance between you, their law firm, and some charities. One other thing: they say you have to keep this information secret and reach out to them by email — immediately.

So what’s really happening? This is not a lawyer — it’s a scammer. And if you email them, they’ll probably try to get your personal information, like your Social Security or bank account numbers, your money — or both. And that inheritance? It doesn’t exist.

Here’s what to do if you get one of these letters:

  • Don’t respond. Keep your money — and your information — to yourself. Never send money or information to a stranger who promises big rewards. That’s always a scam.
  • Pass this information on to a friend. You probably throw away these kinds of letters. But you probably know someone who could use a friendly reminder.
  • Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

 IRS impersonators have been around for a while. As more people get to know their tricks, they’re switching it up. Instead of contacting you about a tax debt and making threats, scammers may send you a text about a “tax rebate” or some other tax refund or benefit. Here’s what to know about the new twist.

The text messages may look legitimate, and mention a “tax rebate” or “refund payment.” No matter what the text says, it’s a scammer Phishing for your information. And if you click on the link to claim “your refund,” you’re exposing yourself to identity theft or malware that the scammer could install on your phone.

If someone contacts you about a tax rebate or refund:

  • Never click on links in unexpected texts. Don’t share personal information with anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Always use a website or phone number you know is real.
  • Know that the IRS won’t call, email or text to contact you for the first time. They’ll always start by sending you a letter. If you want to confirm, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.
  • Find the status of any pending refund on the IRS official website. Visit Where’s My Refund.
  • Report unsolicited texts or emails claiming to be the IRS. Forward a screenshot or the email as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov 
Scammers are using the names of well-known employers to post job openings that don’t exist. The purpose? Tricking you into sending them personal information or money upfront to get the job.

The phony postings are hard to pass up. They offer great pay, telework options, and money to set up a home office. But here’s an example of how the scam works. First, they get your information and send you a check for, say, $4,000. Once the check “clears”, they tell you to keep $1,000 as a salary advance, and send back $3,000 — supposedly to get a computer and office equipment. But the job and the equipment never appear. And sadly, when the bank realizes the check is fake, you’re out of the job and now $3,000 in debt.

To avoid similar job scams:

  • Verify job openings before you apply. Visit the official website for the organization or company you’re applying for. Most include a “career opportunities” or “jobs” section.
  • See what others are saying. Look up the name of the company along with words like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” The results may include the experiences of others who’ve lost money.
  • Don’t pay for the promise of a job. Legit employers will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • Never deposit a check from someone you don’t know. An honest employer will never send you a check and then tell you to send them part of the money. 

If you paid a scammer, call the company you used to pay right away (the gift card or money transfer company, for example). Ask them to reverse the charge. 

Some of the biggest categories of online scams are ones that promise you can make easy money online or from home by doing little work. Here are a few to watch out for:

  • Work-from-home scams: There are number of ways to make money online but also a lot of traps, as listed by The Penny Hoarder(Opens in a new Window). Watch out for jobs that require you to pay in order to start work and those that sound too good to be true.
  • Cryptocurrency accounts: These scams offer you bank accounts to deposit your bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, with promises of doubling or tripling your money.
  • Generate passive income with our system: This scam sells you a “proven system” to help you become an overnight financial success. Typically, these are loaded with fake testimonials and bogus information.
You may have heard about the Publisher's Clearing House (PCH) scam in the news.  Here are six tips to help you spot whether someone is preying on you:

  • If you receive an email, a telephone call, or a bulk mail letter saying that you've won a big prize from PCH, it's a scam. According to the PCH website: "All PCH prizes of $500 or greater are awarded by either certified or express letter or in person by our famous Prize Patrol at our option." So, you know that if you receive a prize notification by any other method than certified mail or an in-person award, you are being scammed.
  • Scammers extort money from you in exchange for a promise of a prize that never materializes. The truth is you never, ever have to pay to receive a sweepstakes prize from Publishers Clearing House or any other company.
  • You don't have to give Publishers Clearing House your address, bank account number, driver’s license number or any other confidential information when you first enter. You may have to fill out an affidavit to verify eligibility if you win, but not when you first enter or when you are first notified that you are a winner. If the entry form is asking for this kind of personal information, it's a sign you are on a spoofed website.
    Scammers sometimes make it appear that you're not "really" paying for your prize by handing over a check and asking you to send back some of the money. After all, they're providing the funds, right? Wrong. Those checks aren't legitimate, and you will be left holding the bill.
  • There are some steps that you can take to verify your prize wins. Some of them include never, ever paying money to receive a prize and using Google to search for similar win notifications that have been reported to consumer organizations as scams. Before you respond to any notifications, take these steps to protect yourself.
  • If you have checked the steps above and you're still not sure if your win notice is legitimate, you can contact PCH directly to ask them to verify your prize. Do NOT use the telephone numbers or email addresses included in your win notice; scammers fake that information to trick their victims.
If you’ve heard of “catfishing,” you can imagine what this breed of scamming is all about. In this increasingly popular online scam, a fraudster preys on vulnerable people seeking a romantic connection to lure them into draining their bank accounts.

Online dating scammers often fool their victims into falling in love with them by using information posted in the victims’ dating or social media profiles. Romance scammers try to quickly woo their targets and move the conversation to a private channel, like over the phone. Then, suddenly, something horrible happens. This could involve a lost job, a family member ending up in the hospital or someone dying—which is when the fraudster will ask for money or gifts.

  • Don’t give money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in real life
  • Be careful what you post online and avoid sending photos of yourself, which can be used for blackmail
  • Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile to see if he/she may be using a stolen photo
  • Talk to someone you trust and pay attention if friends and family are concerned
You’re likely familiar with phishing scams—fake emails that look to be sent from legitimate companies—but have you heard of a similar tactic called smishing? Smishing scams involve fraudulent text messages that seem urgent and indicate something is wrong. These messages prompt you to click a link, send sensitive personal information or reply to the text to resolve a serious situation. They may also promise free gifts or offers in exchange for personal information. So how should you handle a text message you think may be spam?

  • Don’t reply or click any links
  • Call the company directly if you suspect the text may not be real (use the phone number on its real site)
  • Delete the text
  • The old phrase “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” certainly applies to shopping online. Fake shopping websites have been popping up lately, aiming to scam you out of your hard-earned money. Pay attention to these red flags, which will help tip you off to a fake website or online store:

    • Bad English and/or poor website design
    • Super-low prices that seem too good to be true
    • Bootleg logo, store name and/or URL (e.g. “you-pay-less-4-mac-stuff.com” or a site with a URL that’s one or two letters off from a legitimate domain)
    • Inability to accept credit or debit card payments
    • Reviews that sound suspicious or inauthentic

    How can you protect yourself from fake shopping websites?