This Cybersecurity Month, take a minute to think about how you’re protecting yourself from fraud. With all of the new ways fraudsters are trying to take your hard-earned money, it’s no wonder there are so many new victims every day. No matter how a fraudster tries to reach you, there are a few tried and true ways you can measure a phone call, text, or online message for signs of fraud. Remembering these steps is easy, just follow the acronym S-T-O-P. Keep reading to learn how to S-T-O-P fraud.


The first thing you want to do when you think you may be targeted by a fraudster is to stop. Even if they say they need an answer urgently or threaten that you’ll get in trouble, always stop. If it’s not a scam artist, they likely won’t mind if you take time to think on what they’ve told you and call them back if needed. This will give you time to do your research on the person/company that reached out to you and make sure they are legitimate.


Scammers thrive on situations where you feel rushed, worried, and threatened. They will try all kinds of tricks to get you to panic and make a rushed decision. Don’t let that happen. Take time to think. Are they talking fast and not giving you time to react or respond? Does the situation they’re describing make sense to you? Do you have a gut feeling that something is off? None of these things should be ignored, even if the person seems like they’re in a hurry or in danger. Always think before you act.


A scammer will always ask for a weird payment type to ensure that whatever money you give them is not easily traceable and harder for you to get back later. The most common payment requests are gift cards, wiring money via Western Union or MoneyGram, and even cryptocurrency. Know that if you’re dealing with a legitimate organization, they will never ask you to make payments with any of these methods.

Additionally, try not to send checks in the mail, as scammers are finding more and more ways to steal and use them to take your money. If you should receive a check payment for something in an amount that’s bigger than what you’ve asked for or for something you aren’t even selling, do not cash the check. It is likely a scammer trying to gain access to your bank account.


While scammers are tricky, they give themselves away when they are overly pushy, yelling, or rude to you. If they’re trying to scare you or threaten you, you’ll know they’re trying to trick you. Always take the time to analyze how the conversation is going and whether you feel pressured.

Remember, scammers are professionals that are trained to learn everything about a person so they can take advantage of them. Don’t let yourself be an easy target. Don’t share personal information on social media and don’t answer phone calls or messages from people you don’t know unless you have verified they are who they say they are. Most importantly, if you do receive a scam call or message, make sure you are reporting it! The local police, your bank, and  the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) can benefit from you reporting your experience. Scammers target everybody and they’re really good at their jobs, so don’t feel ashamed if you do become a victim. Your story helps others avoid a similar situation. If you ever have any questions about scams, fraud, or want to report an instance of fraud, don’t hesitate to contact our team or stop by your local branch!