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How to Avoid Identity Theft Scams

Security Center

Scams and Tips to Avoid Them

Fraudsters are creative and always searching for new ways to capture consumers' confidential information. Protect yourself by becoming familiar with current scam attempts and ways to identify if you’re being targeted.



Potential Signs

Fake Tech Support

Viruses can be scary and complicated to get rid of, and some scammers will take advantage of that sense of alarm by alerting consumers to a potential virus on their computer by using ads, emails, and pop-ups.
Virus alert may be fake:
  • When an alert connected you with an IT professional that started asking for payment
  • When an alert is not from a verified legitimate virus-protection program that you had previously signed up or paid for


Searching for a job is daunting, and any leads for potential employment can seem exciting. Be cautious though, if a potential employer starts to seem suspicious.
Employer could be a scammer:
  • When requested to provide personal/private information such as your social security number or bank information prior to becoming officially employed
  • When asked to send money for training or equipment

Fake Checks & Money Order

A check or money order from an individual you don’t know and in many cases for an amount more than you expected should raise a red flag. In many cases when it is deposited, you will be notified that it was counterfeit.
Check/money order may be fake:
  • If the amount received was more than expected, and claimed to be sent “by accident”
  • If instructed to wire back any excess funds

Phony Sweepstakes, Lotteries & Prizes

There are many legitimate sweepstakes, lotteries, or prizes, but scammers take advantage of the excitement of winning to steal personal information or money.
Your winnings may be fake:
  • When asked to pay an upfront fee
  • When asked to provide personal information before you can claim your winnings

Fake Debt
& Tax Collection

Debt or tax collection is often alarming, but if it is unexpected or something that was already settled, it may be a scam.
Debt/tax collection could be a scam:
  • When pressured or threatened to pay immediately
  • When asked for personal/sensitive information
  • If you are requested to make payment in the form of gift cards or money orders

Family Emergency

Alarming calls regarding a loved one in trouble are scary. These calls could be fake, so it’s important to verify the situation with a trusted family member or friend.
A phone call about your loved one may be fake:
  • When pressured or threatened to act immediately
  • If you are asked for money to “help” your loved one


Online dating has helped some people find love. In some cases, those relationships are built upon false pretenses where the profile is fake, and the person builds trust to trick their target into sending them money.
Online love interest could be a scammer:
  • If you are asked for money for things like emergencies, hospital bills, or travel
  • If you planned to visit, but can’t because emergencies always come up
  • When a love interest lives outside of the country



Emails, phone calls or texts may not always be from people you trust, even if they look like it. Scammers use familiar companies or people you know to steal personal information and possibly steal your identity.
An email, phone call or text could be a phishing attack:
  • When the message does not include your name, or uses bad grammar or spelling
  • If asked for personal information including
    passwords or bank account information


Trying to get a good deal when shopping online can sometimes come at a cost. Consumers are falling victim to fake retail websites as well as fake sellers on direct seller-to-buyer sites such as eBay and Craigslist.
Your purchase could be a scam:
  • If you bought something from a seller-to buyer/retail site, but never received the item
  • If you received emails or text messages with special offers, deals, or shipping notifications that link to a retail website that looks familiar, but seems a little off Sellers should also be vigilant to who they are selling to as not every buyer is legitimate.
Your buyer could be a scammer:
  • If you received overpayment for an item you sold, and then were requested to refund “accidental overpayment.” Often times the original payment will bounce, and any returned “overpayment” cannot be recovered.


How to Protect Yourself

  • Do not share your personal information, PINs, account numbers or passwords with anyone who contacts you online or over the phone.
  • Be wary of requests for payments in the form of gift cards, prepaid cards, and wire transfers or other non-traceable payments.
  • Do not click on pop-up windows. Identity thieves plant pop-up windows on legitimate websites in an effort to steal your identity by acquiring all of your personal information.
  • Do not send funds or cash to companies, charities or individuals unless you identify the legitimacy of the transaction.
  • Do not click on links in emails that ask for your personal information. Harmful programs could be embedded in emails and the links provided may lead you to fake versions of what you understand to be legitimate websites. Secure websites will always contain HTTPS in the webs address.
  • Check your credit report periodically from the three credit bureaus to ensure nothing is abnormal.



What to Do if You are a Victim

If you believe you are a victim of fraud or identity theft, contact us at 877.723.5571. In addition to contacting Univest, you should also report the incident to the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus.

Additional Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Fraud or Identity Theft

  • Close the accounts you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently
  • File a police report as proof of the crime and obtain a copy or report number.

File a Complaint

Law enforcement agencies around the world work together to stop scammers and provide consumers with the information they need to avoid fraud. If you believe you have been scammed, file a complaint with the below organizations.
  • Federal Trade Commission: | 877.FTC.HELP (877.382.4357)
  • FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center:

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