Do you know a scam when you see one? While it’s true that some scams are noticeable, chances are you aren’t going to fall head over heels for a Nigerian prince and send money in the mail anymore. However, criminals have gotten way smarter. Just because you are aware of some classic scams doesn’t mean there aren’t many other crooks out there who are much more creative and convincing.
Here are 7 ways scammers continue to trick people successfully today:
1. Posing As The Government
It can be really scary to be contacted by any member or branch of the government. Scammers take advantage of this. Posing as the IRS, CRA, ATO or HMRC is one of the most common ways scammers convince people to send money. A person calls claiming to be a member of the Internal Revenue Service, demanding money to settle back taxes that you don’t actually owe.
It’s not just the fake IRS that can give you a call. Scammers are using the coronavirus crisis to get your money by getting people to include their information on fake info sites that are supposed to help you sign up for a vaccine, while others are capitalizing on the stimulus money families are getting.
Don’t panic and give the caller what they want just because they say they are from the government. There are a few essential things you should know about what the government will and won’t do:
- The IRS will never – and we mean never – call you on the phone.
- The government will never ask you for an upfront fee to receive money in return.
- A member of the government will never ask you for personal information, like your Social Security number.
- A member of the government will never ask you for your bank account number or credit card information.
2. Posing As Financial Institutions
Not only is it easy to react at the moment and provide information to a person who claims to be with the government, but the same is also true if you’re faced with someone posing as a member of a financial institution.
Not only can people call claiming to be a representative from your bank, credit card company, or retirement account, they can also send you an email requesting that you update your information to unfreeze your funds or regain access to your account. Don’t fall for it! Be aware of how to tell if the email they are sending is legitimate or a scam.
3. Fake Tech Support
Malware and viruses make your computer maddeningly slow, but they can also make your personal information susceptible to hackers. Because of this, nearly everyone has programs downloaded onto their computer to prevent these programs. Do you know the name of the program you use and exactly how it works?
If you don’t, you may find you are contacted by tech support or faced with a popup that asks you to run a scan on your computer. Instead of cleaning up your computer, you’ll be left with a virus that can result in identity theft or a drained bank account.
4. Online Purchase Scams
Shopping online can be convenient; however, it can also be dangerous. If you don’t know how to tell if a website is legitimate, you could end up purchasing with a business that doesn’t really exist. Instead of sending what you bought in the mail, they take your money and run.
Always look at the URL to see if the site is secure with a padlock symbol, avoid sites with sketchy domain extensions, like .biz, and be on the lookout for broken English.
Sites you already shop on aren’t safe either! For example, the next time you complete a purchase on Amazon, make sure you aren’t using a scam site posing as Amazon.
5. Friend Requests From Strangers
Not friending strangers on social media isn’t as cut and dry as it sounds on the surface. If you’re looking for professional connections or new friends, you may be tempted to click “accept”, but that could leave you open to scams.
After creating a fake Facebook profile, scammers send friend requests hoping to access the information on your profile. If you accept, they could have access to contact information, in addition to information about whether you’re on vacation, which makes burglarizing your home easy.
If you don’t have any friends in common, if their photo looks a little too good, or if the person has very little personal content on their timeline, you should decline their request.
6. Files And Links From Actual Friends
Not only do you have to be on the lookout for strangers, but you also have to be careful with your real friends on social media too.
Scammers clone Facebook profiles. Then, they re-friend the people the original person is friends with. You get a request from someone you actually know and wonder how you aren’t already friends with that person, so you accept. Only, you are already friends, and now that person can convince you to click on a link or download a harmful file.
Check your friends’ list before accepting seemingly obvious requests and report any suspicious activity.
7. Fake Charities
Fake charities are especially tricky because you may repeatedly send your money without ever being aware that your money isn’t going where you think it’s going.
Not only do you have to be aware of downright fake charities, but you also have to be aware of the possibility of donating to a legitimate charity that isn’t doing what you think it’s doing. Some charities give very little of your money to the cause you’re supporting, with the rest going to those working at the charity. That’s why it’s critical to do your research.
Just because you know some of the ways scammers operate doesn’t mean you know them all. They are constantly changing their strategies! Staying updated on how you can be duped is the first step in making sure you don’t become a victim of the latest scam.
How To Report a Scammer
Let your family and online friends know about this article by sharing it on social media. You can also officially report scammers and any other suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission.
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