Opinion & Analysis

Financial awareness; frauds and scams; be cautious! 

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By Peter Kwadwo Asare Nyarko

As you know, there are lots of things that you can do with your money. One thing you don’t want to do, though, is to let others take or steal your money. It would be great if we lived in a world where you didn’t have to worry about that, but that is not the case.

There are people and organizations that may try to access your online bank account, fraudulently use your credit card, learn your PIN and use your Mobile Money balance, fool you with an online purchase or payment, and so on. You have to be vigilant in protecting your personal information and your money especially in this day of online purchases and banking.

The following is just a sample of fraud and scams that people may try to use against you. Included are suggestions for how to protect yourself from those who might be looking to take advantage of you.

⏳REQUESTS FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION:

Any email asking you to disclose or share personal information is likely to be a scam and before taking any action you should check with the supposed source making the request. Financial institutions and government officials will never ask you to provide personal information over the Internet.

⏳ “LANDLINE” CALLS:

Anyone calling on the phone indicating that they are from MTN, Vodafone, AirtelTigo, GRA, ECG, and any reputable company and stating that you have won a prize or owe taxes or money and that you can pay them right away over the phone is a scam. Any reputable company will never do that. Such calls can sound very convincing and threatening, and state that you may win a nice prize, face a heavy fine or jail time if you don’t pay. Don’t fall for it!

⏳SENDING FALSE INVOICES:

 It is amazing how often people and businesses will simply pay an invoice that is sent to them in the mail even though it may be totally false. If you are not aware of a purchase that was made, do not simply pay a received invoice. Check into it. Make sure it is legitimate.

⏳STEALING YOUR IDENTITY:

If someone has access to your personal information your National Identity Number (Ghana Card) and PINS, Passport Number, bank records, etc. they may use that information to try to access your money or your assets. Protect your personal information and keep a close eye on your bank accounts and other financial assets to watch for any surprises. If you see a withdrawal or some other action that you did not take, report it to your financial institution immediately.

⏳ HEALTH PROMOTIONS:

People are often vulnerable when they are concerned about their health or appearance. Unsolicited offers may arrive for ways to cure baldness, cure acne, lose or gain weight, feel better and stronger, and so on. Be very cautious about such promotions especially if they promise results that sound too good to be true. Check them out thoroughly before spending any money on such offers.

⏳ SUBSCRIPTION TRAPS:

Be cautious of those who offer you a really good deal for an online subscription. Some will offer really good deals at the outset and ask for your information. Then, over time, they will raise the rates and continue to charge you monthly fees at a rate you never wanted to pay but may have agreed to. So be cautious about subscriptions and do read the terms and conditions carefully.

⏳FAMILY MEMBER IN DISTRESS:

 Sometimes individuals will receive calls from someone who says that a family member has been badly injured and that the individual needs you to send money. The caller may have even done some digging and found a name and some personal information about the person they say is injured. They may say that they can help your family member but need money as soon as possible to do so. They may also say that they are the police and need money. Don’t ignore a call that may be legitimate about such an event but be very cautious if the caller asks for money to help especially if they want you to send it right away. Try and verify the situation if you can.

⏳DOOR TO DOOR SALES AND CANVASSING:

It is rare these days for any legitimate cause or organization to have people canvassing door to door asking for money. Door to door visitors may look to get your support in an election, and that is fine. But if people come to your door asking for money, be very, very cautious about donating or buying anything from someone going door to door. And also, be cautious that they are not “checking out” your home. Some may ask for a glass of water or something similar and look for what they can steal while you have left them alone at the door; purse, car keys, etc.

⏳INTERNET SOLICITATIONS AND REQUESTS FOR PAYMENT:

It is very common for scammers to try and convince you to support a cause or pay a bill via an email. Again, be very cautious. Watch for typos in the email request. Look at the email source that sent the email to you. It may say it is from a store requesting payment but the originating email address has no indication of the store’s name. As a rule of thumb, it is probably best never to respond to email requests for money. Follow up with a phone call or visit to verify.

Tips to remember:

  • Always remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Always review your monthly bank statements to make sure all deposits and withdrawals are correct.
  • If you have a credit card, always check your statements carefully to make sure there are no false charges.

Peter Kwadwo Asare Nyarko is an Award-Winning Financial Literacy Advocate & Educator, Certified Personal Finance Coach Business and Entrepreneurial Consultant, and Author. He is the Executive Director, Center for Financial Literacy Education – CFLE Africa (a not-for-profit financial literacy organization that is empowering, educating and teaching Africans especially young Africans to make sound financial decisions, save and invest wisely, plan for their future and to live a successful and happy lives).

He is the Founder and Lead Consultant, PKAN Capital Consulting (a personal finance & group financial planning and business development & planning firm). Peter is the Lead, The Improving Financial Awareness and Financial Literacy Movement in Ghana and Lead TFAF Ambassador in Africa.

He has authored six (6) books including four (4) financial literacy and education books; “Journey To Financial Freedom, Mastering Personal Finance, Teaching Children Financial Freedom, and Sika Mpe Dede.

As a financial literacy advocate and crusader; Peter uses and maximizes his God given talent of “speaking, writing, and serving people” as he continuously gives advice and talks to people in all walks of life. He has a mission of empowering and educating his generation focusing on financial management, business development and investments to help them build and achieve success and happiness.

“Your financial success is my earthly assignment.” —Peter Kwadwo Asare Nyarko

Peter consults and works with global and international brands especially in the financial literacy, education and inclusion space.

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