5 Ways To Spot a Scam This Year

Being the victim of a scam can be a scary and violating experience that makes you feel as if your privacy and livelihood have been shattered. Whether the fraud was to steal financial, personal, or other information, it can be challenging to trust again following a scam incident. Learning to spot the signs of a scam can help anyone avoid becoming a victim.

Scams can cost a person both time and money. Over $5.8 billion was lost by consumers due to fraud in 2021, with 2022 data expected to show an increase when calculated. On top of that, an astounding 2.8 million people reported some fraud occurring that year. The prevalence of computers and widespread Internet use has made people vulnerable, which fraudsters take advantage of.

By learning how to spot common scams before they occur, you can save thousands of dollars and time that may be lost trying to recover information following a fraud.

Most Common Types of Consumer Scams

Beyond recognizing the common signs of a scam, you need to start by understanding the common scams themselves. Specifically, there are four scams seen most often today that pose a risk to the average individual:

best ways to spot a scam

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are among the most challenging to identify, as they come in different forms. Broadly, they are a type of online scam that explicitly targets consumers. Email phishing scams will involve an email being sent to a person claiming to be from a well-known source, such as a bank, and will request personal information.

This scam works because those doing the phishing often act as if the recipient has won some prize or benefit, then prompt them to log in with their information to claim that prize.

Emergency Scams

The second type of common scam is when a person contacts you claiming that there has been some extreme emergency they need assistance with. This could involve someone finding information on you, such as a parent’s name, sending an email claiming to be your parents’ neighbor, and informing you that they have been in an accident. Hence, you need to send money immediately.

Money Transfer Scams

A new and relatively modern form of scamming that has emerged is a money transfer scam. With services like Apple Pay and Venmo, scammers have started to “sell” products but request that you pay in full first with the promise that they will send the product after. Usually, these scammers don’t go through certified sites such as Amazon or eBay. Instead, they are selling the items themselves.

Debt Settlement Scams

Finally, nobody enjoys being in debt, which is a fact that debt settlement scammers capitalize on. This common scam involves a person offering to compensate someone for the total sum of their debt so long as they pay an upfront fee first. Avoid working with any company that promises they can quickly settle your debt.

5 Ways to Spot a Scam Before You Become a Victim

One of the best ways to start learning how to spot a scam is to start learning how to recognize when people are lying to you, as this is one of the first indicators that they may have nefarious motives. To that end, use the following five methods of spotting a scam in the early stages:

1. Something Seems Too Good To Be True

In most cases, you should trust your gut when it tells you something is wrong. Winning the lottery is nearly impossible, but supposedly winning the lottery without buying a ticket should send off countless red flags in your head. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Winning prizes for things you didn’t enter, getting free money you never applied for, and more are all examples of warning signs.

2. Fact-checking Contradicts What They Say

If somebody contacts you claiming to be from a company, yet you’ve never heard of them, do some fact-checking. Start with LinkedIn to see if they’re associated with the company, or go to their website to see if the person is listed on their page. If that doesn’t yield results, consider running a light background check on the person to see if they have a criminal history.

3. Email Domains Resemble An Authentic Email But Aren’t The Same

Email phishing scams can be so successful because they often come from an email that resembles an authentic domain. Most people don’t notice a single extra letter thrown in at the beginning or end of the domain and happily respond, thinking it’s genuine. Always thoroughly read the domain an email is coming from or install a free domain checker that will tell you if it’s legit or not.

4. You Receive A Message That Demands Immediate Action

Any email, text, or phone call that demands immediate action, especially if that action has to do with money, is most likely a scam. If you have to engage with the person, force them to slow down and explain the situation, saying you will not pay anything without verifiable information.

5. There Is An Unusual Request For An Upfront Payment

One common sign of a scam is when an individual demands upfront payment before a transaction occurs, especially if it’s not on an accredited website. If ordering directly from someone, consider negotiating half the fee upfront and half after the item ships.

As a general principle, it’s best to refrain from responding to anybody you cannot verify your identity. To avoid losing thousands of dollars and potentially your identity, recognize the common signs of a scam and avoid putting yourself in any situation where a fraudster can seize information.

How To Report a Scammer

Let your close family, friends and acquaintances know about how to spot a scam by sending them this article. Feel free to share this page if it was helpful. Meanwhile, you can report scammers and any other suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using the portal below:

Report To The FTC Here

How To Protect Yourself More

If you want to be amongst the first to receive notifications about the most notorious scams every week, subscribe to our Scam Detector newsletter. You will receive periodic emails from us with insightful tips. That will include how to prevent fraud and information about the newest tools you can use to fight crime.

Meanwhile, feel free to educate yourself with some other financial fraud-related articles. They are listed under this paragraph, so that you know how to stay safe online. Last but not least, if you have any bad experiences, make sure to use the comments section below to expose other scammers.

Top 4 Most Common Loan Scams

How To Spot Online Fraud

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selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSelma is a fraud prevention specialist renowned for her expertise in private eye investigations and a remarkable partnership with law enforcement agencies. Beyond her investigative triumphs, her public speaking engagements and written works have empowered countless individuals to protect themselves and stay ahead of deceptive schemes. Selma's legacy shines as a tenacious agent of change, unyielding in her commitment to battling fraud and ensuring a safer world for all.

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