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How many times have you received an unsolicited e-mail asking you to send or receive money? If you’re like most people, you may have responded, and it probably didn’t take you very long to realize that you were scammed.

So what exactly is a scam? A financial scam is any dishonest act that leads you to losing money. Financial scams are typically classified as a form of identity theft, which means that somebody else uses your information to take on your identity for financial reasons. The thought of somebody else stealing your identity is undoubtedly frightening, but the good news is that you can take measures to reduce your chances of being scammed by an identity thief. Here are some helpful measures:

Never give out personal information like your bank account number, and PIN numbers, or your social security  number unless you have a very good reason.

Before you throw out your garbage, be sure to shred any materials that contain personal information. 

Be wary of phone or e-mail requests for money. 

Get a credit check at least once a year. 

Invest in a safe deposit boxto keep all of your important documents in a secure place.

If you receive an email, phone call, or letter that insists  you pay a fee, do not pay or respond. Find out exactly who is contacting you, why they want your money or personal information, and who you can speak with to verify their legitimacy. 

When it comes to protecting you and your identity from scams, the best thing that you can do is to use your best judgment. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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