How to Avoid Scams

Unknown caller ringing a cell phone

Merchants Bank of Indiana is committed to helping you safeguard yourself against scammers who aim to exploit unsuspecting individuals. Take a moment to review our helpful tips below designed to help you recognize potential scams and prevent falling for them.


Scammers PRETEND to be from an organization you know.
  • Scammers often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company, a tech company, or even a charity asking for donations.

    They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID. So the name and number you see might not be real.
Scammers say there is a PROBLEM or a PRIZE.
  •  They might say that you are in trouble with the government, you owe money, or someone in your family had an emergency.  Some scammers say there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but will need to pay a fee to receive it. 
Scammers PRESSURE you to act immediately.
  • They want you to act before you have time to think. If you are on the phone they might tell you not to hang up so that you can't check their story. Others may even threaten to arrest you, take your driver's or business license away, or deport you. They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.
Scammers tell you to PAY in a specific way.
  • They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.


Block unwanted calls and text messages.
  • Take steps to block unwanted calls and to filter unwanted text messages.
Don't give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn't expect.
  • Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.

    If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.
Resist the pressure to act immediately. 
  • Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
Know how scammers tell you to pay.
  • Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
Stop and talk to someone you trust.
  • Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.

If you were scammed or think you saw a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.


Source:  Federal Trade Commission, How to Avoid Scams

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