Fraud Prevention

Keeping your sensitive information safe and secure is our top priority. To help, we’ve identified some of the most common topics concerning information security and provided steps you should take to keep your information safe.  

  1. Contact American at 877-483-6811.
  2. Contact all other creditors. Call each creditor's fraud department and ask them to close or freeze the accounts.
  3. Change logins, passwords and PINS for your accounts.
  4. Place a free, one-year fraud alert and get your credit reports by contacting one of the three credit bureaus. 
  5. Report Identity Theft to the FTC by completing this online form. Based on the information you enter, IdentityTheft.gov will create your Identity Theft Report and recovery plan.
Malware and ransomware are types of malicious software installed on your computer or smart device by a hacker to steal passwords and sensitive information, hold files for ransom, or corrupt personal data.  To prevent this, keep software on your devices up-to-date, install only trusted apps and software, back up your data regularly and don’t click on links or attachments you were not expecting. 

Business email compromise (BEC) is a sophisticated scam targeting businesses of all sizes. It's carried out by hackers who compromise legitimate business email accounts through phishing emails, a fake email account or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transactions. 

Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to infect your devices with malware and viruses in order to gather personal and financial information. Cyber criminals lure users to click on a link or open an attachment that infects devices. Phishing emails may appear to come from a real financial institution, government agency, business or individual and may request sensitive, personal information such as account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers.

  • Think before you click. Never click on a link or an attachment that you weren’t expecting, even if it appears to be from someone you know. The sender’s email address could be spoofed. Reach out to the sender by phone to confirm the legitimacy of the email before clicking.
  • When an email requests that you to log in to an account, do not click the link in the email. Instead, go directly to the website through your browser. This ensures you are accessing the real page and keeping your credentials safe.
  • American will never ask for sensitive information in an email or text message.

Smishing is a security attack in which a fraudster sends a text message asking the user to provide sensitive, personal, and/or financial information via a web link to a false website or via a telephone number. It will trick the user into downloading a virus or other malware onto a smart device.  

  • Avoid clicking links within text messages, especially if they are sent from someone you don't know. Be aware that these messages can appear to come from someone you do know, so think before you click.
  • Don't respond to text messages that request private or financial information from you.
  • If you get a message that appears to be from your bank or other entity that you do business with, contact that business directly to determine if they sent you a legitimate request.
Vishing is the fraudulent practice of making phone calls or leaving voice messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to make individuals reveal personal information such as bank details and credit card numbers. Never give out any sensitive information over the phone especially if you did not initiate the phone call. Hang up and call the person or business directly from your contact information you have saved.
Sweepstakes and lottery scams
This simple scam is one that many are familiar with and it capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” With this, scammers inform the victim that they have won a lottery or sweepstake of some kind and need to make a payment to unlock the “prize.” Often, people will be sent a check that they can deposit into their account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the fake check is returned on the victims account. During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for the supposed fees or taxes on the prize. The scammers will pocket the money while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.
 
Funeral scams
Scammers pay close attention funeral homes and obituaries. They will call or attend a funeral service of strangers to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Scammers will claim the deceased had an outstanding debt and will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debits.
 
Remote PC repair scams
In most cases, this scam originates out of India. Victims are contacted by phone from scam artists claiming to be a representative of high-tech computer businesses. The call typically is a warning to the victim that their computer has been infected or could be under a threat of being infected by a malware virus. They claim that this will severely damage their internal operating system. The “representative” encourages the victim to go online and allow them to troubleshoot the computer. The claim this will fix all of the related issues immediately. (This can also be an Antivirus “pop-up” on your computer)
 
If granted access, the “representative” will use this time to infect the computer with a malware virus that will do severe damage to the internal operating system and force the owner to go to a third party website to confirm the damage. The goal of this scam is to force the computer owner to immediately pay for unnecessary repair work over the phone by using credit card.
 
Never give anyone remote access to your computer. You should hire a local repair service whenever possible. It is rare that a PC representative would call a computer user to alert them of a virus threat. Unfortunately, too many individuals have fallen for this scam and often report their personal identity has been stolen soon after the phone encounter.
 
IRS imposter scams
Another scam is receiving a phone call informing you that the “representative” is from the IRS. They will tell you that you owe back on taxes. The “representative” will threaten to sue you, arrest or deport you, or revoke your license if you do not pay right away. This is intended for the victim to comply right away and put the money on pre-paid debit cards or give the scammer the credit/debit card numbers.
The caller may know some of your Social Security number and your caller ID may show a Washington, DC area code. But these are just tactics the scammers use to reel in victims. The real IRS will not ask you to pay with pre-paid debit card or wire transfers. They also will not ask for a credit card over the phone. When the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, they will do it by mail, not by phone.

Do not wire money or pay with pre-paid debit cards. Once you send funds, the money is gone. If you have tax questions, visit irs.gov or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Money wiring scams
Wiring money is like sending cash. Do not wire money to people you do not know. Most money wiring scams entails someone you don’t know asking you to wire money. A scammer might use different ways to convince you to wire money. The scammer might say:
  • “You won a prize or inherited money, but you have to pay fees first.”
  • “You won the lottery, but you have to pay some taxes first.”
  • “A friend or family member is in trouble and needs you to send money to help.”
  • “You need to pay for something you just bought online before they send it.”
  • “You got a check for too much money and need to send back the extra funds.”
These are all tricks to entice the victim to pay. When come across any situation similar to this, it is possible you have spotted a money wiring scam. Scammers are know exactly what to say to convince the victim that the situation is real.
 
Grandparent-grandchild scam
Scammers are good at pretending to be someone they’re not. They can be convincing and use information from social networking sites or hack into family members’ email account to make it seem more real. Scammers will pressure you to send money before you have time to think and look into the situation. They will use emotional tactics to get you to react without thinking.
  • “Grandma, I need money for bail.”
  • “Grandpa, I need money for a medical bill.”
  • Or some other kind of trouble. The call says it’s urgent and tells you to keep it a secret.
Stop and look into the information. Confirm the phone number and the grandchild’s information and call another family member to verify the situation.
 
Telephone scams
Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams, from a few dollars to their life savings. Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly, they will call you by your first name, make small talk, and ask about your family. They may claim to work for a company that you trust and send mail or place ads to convince you to call them.

If you get a call from someone you don’t know who is trying to sell you something, ask for more information or say “no, thank you.” If they pressure you about giving out personal information, like your credit card, social security number, or bank information, keep asking questions or hang up before giving out any information.
  • Federal Trade Comission (FTC): This free, one-stop resource can help you report and recover from identity theft. You can also report fraud online
  • US-CERT: Report computer or network vulnerabilities to US-CERT via the hotline: 888-282-0870 or online. Forward phishing emails or websites to US-CERT at phishing-report@us-cert.gov
  • Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): If you are the victim of an online crime, file a complaint with IC3 online
  • Social Security Administration: If you believe someone is using your Social Security number, contact the Social Security Administration's fraud hotline at 800-269-0271.