April Fools’ Day Scams Are No Joke

Many people enjoy playing pranks on April Fools’ Day. In recent years, businesses have started to join in the fun. In 2015, Amazon revamped their site to look like the classic 1999 version and Google went over the top with several jokes, including turning its Maps tool to Pac-Man.

While these antics are harmless and fun, there are fraudsters who will try to use April 1st to their advantage. A wrong click could leave you vulnerable to phishing scams or identity theft. Here are some tips on how to avoid falling victims to scams this April:

  1. Don’t Trust People Based Solely on Their Apparent Credentials. It’s possible for anyone to make up a title, name, email address or even phone number to get you to trust them. Most trustworthy sources won’t be contacting you via a website or email to collect your personal information.
  2. Be Wary of Being Rushed.  If you’re feeling pressured to give any information or make a purchase, take a step back. Scammers often use timely threats, like deportation or service shutoffs, to make victims act before thinking.
  3. Don’t Wire Money or Transfer Funds.  If you personally know a recipient, that’s one thing. But if you don’t, wiring money or using a prepaid debit card is like handing these scammers untraceable cash.
  4. Watch Out for Bad Writing. It’s a lot easier to copy an image from another website or email, but poor writing (typos, strange phrasing, bad grammar, etc.) is a warning sign of a scam.
  5. Contact Them Instead.  If you received an email or message from a company, contact their official number to verify the information. Don’t use the email or phone number that the message provides, as that may not get you accurate information. If they’re calling you, say you’ll return their call instead of doing anything right away.

If a scammer does make you fall for their April Fools’ prank, or you think your personal information was compromised, it’s important to report it to the proper authorities. Also, take your personal security one step further and check your credit score for signs of fraud.