Protect Yourself From Fraud
Known Scams Misappropriating the Safeco Name
Counterfeit checks: You receive a Safeco check in the mail. The check has the proper Safeco logo, and it seems legit, but there’s a stipulation that you return a portion of the funds for one reason or another. So, you sign the check, deposit it at the local branch of your bank and send back the requested money. Then you hear from your bank. The check was a fraud, and you’re now on the hook for returning all the funds, including any you’ve spent. Now you’re out anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
It’s a common scam that takes on many different forms. Here are some to watch out for:
- Fake Sweepstakes, Lotteries and More
You receive a counterfeit “prize” check and are asked to return some of the funds as a tax payment or handling fee. But, please keep in mind that Safeco does not conduct, sponsor or underwrite any lotteries, sweepstakes or prize drawings and, as such, does not issue checks for any winnings.
- Work-From-Home Jobs and Internships
In this scam, you receive a check from the “employer” that includes both your wages and an additional amount. You are told to deposit the check, keep what you’ve “earned” and send the rest to a specified address. But, please keep in mind that a legitimate employer would handle all payments itself, rather than going through an individual.
- Payment for Goods or Services
You perform a service for or sell something to another person, such as on Craigslist. In lieu of paying you with cash or a personal check, the person sends you a Safeco check with you listed as the payee. The check is for more than the person owes you, so you agree to send him the difference. To help prevent this, only accept verified payment methods, such as a cashier’s check.
The bottom line is: Do not cash suspicious checks appearing to be from Safeco, as Safeco nor any bank or other company will honor them or offer reimbursement for money lost. To further protect yourself, please review the fraud tips below.
Fraud Protection Tips
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. So, be sure to question anything that seems suspicious, even if someone is trying to pressure you due to time sensitivity. For example, if you are not a Safeco customer and have no business with Safeco, definitely do not cash a check you receive that appears to be from Safeco.
- To inquire about whether a check, notice or request you’ve received is real or fake, the best course of action is to contact the company by a known verified method, such as the phone number listed on your billing statement or the number posted on the company’s official website. Do not use the contact number provided by the individual who mailed you the check.
- If you receive a suspicious email or text message, don’t click on any links, reply with your personal information, call the phone number or wire or otherwise provide money to the organization or person. The same goes over the phone or through the mail.
- Type URLs into your browser window carefully. There are two reasons for this. One, it keeps you from clicking on links in emails that may take you to a scam. Two, it helps you avoid lookalike sites – fake sites that mimic, say, a banking site but use a slightly different yet highly similar URL. Logging in or providing information to such a site will result in an identity breach.
- Purchase a home safe to store important documents, such as tax returns, birth certificates, passports and more, and a shredder to destroy sensitive documents you don’t need to keep. Secure the safe to a wall or the floor so it can’t easily be carried off.
- Protect your digital life by using strong passwords (a unique one for each account) and keeping your operating system and software up to date, as well as your firewall, spyware and virus protection. Furthermore, before recycling an old computer, remove and destroy the hard drive. If you’re donating it, swap in a low-cost replacement first.
- Be familiar with your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and Transunion. You may spot fraudulent accounts opened in your name or other signs of identity theft. You can request free copies of your reports once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
For more information about protecting your identity or responding to identity theft, review our blogs on identity protection and tax-related identity theft. Or, visit the Federal Trade Commission at Consumer.gov/idtheft or the Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov.