How To Tell If Someone Is Scamming You Online
How To Tell If Someone Is Scamming You Online [FULL GUIDE 2020]
Never before has our world been more connected, and never before has it been so difficult to know how to tell if someone is scamming you online. In this article, we focus on all types of fraud – whether it’s about phishing scams or email scams – as well as online dating scams and romance scammer tactics (signs of a romance scammer). Let’s start.
Whether you are dating online, shopping, doing some research, or just socializing on the Internet, it can be hard to know if someone is scamming you. If you were involved in any of these activities online recently, the chances are you’ve been a target already.
Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself, become more vigilant, and tell if someone is scamming you in almost any situation. Read on to learn more about red flags you can find when criminals strike.
Making Promises and Guarantees: Common Fraud and Online Dating Scams
There are no sure bets in this world—unless you are talking about the chance that a scammer may target you! If someone online or in your online dating scene makes promises that seem too good to be true—they probably are. Sure bets, guarantees, and promises for big returns, money, or easy romance should be red flags to you that you may be being scammed.
Whether through email, social media, or dating sites, scammers use bot accounts and automated systems to target individuals with deals and opportunities that seem too good to be true. When you’re confronted with an offer like this, make sure you think about it carefully.
Here is more on how to tell if someone is scamming you online.
Someone Contacts You Through a Private Account
Take special care when you are contacted through a private account or online channels such as email or even your phone messages. We are all a little wary when talking through online social media or dating sites, but when someone contacts you through your own email or telephone messages, we feel a little more secure in our communications.
For this reason, if a stranger or someone with a strange message contacts you through these methods, it should raise some red flags. Scammers are able to get a hold of your email address or phone number in many ways. Then use your private accounts to contact both you and people on your contact list. Protect your email address and phone number very carefully.
Signs of a Romance Scammer and Other Criminals: Wire Transfers, Cash App, and Money Orders
What are some signs of a romance scammer? Wire transfers are notoriously tricky to track and refund, so they are a favorite scammers tool online. Wire transfers should only be completed between close family and friends. While this transfer method is fast and easy (and usually does not involve any extra charges or steps), it is also easy to fake an identity to run a scam.
The scam does not always start with a wire transfer. Usually, the scammer will pay for a transaction using a fake check or money order. What the victim doesn’t know is that the check or money order is bogus. The scammer will write the money order or check for an amount more considerable than was necessary, as if by mistake.
A short time later, the scammer will ask that the victim wire the difference back to them. Because it will take time to verify the check or money order, the victim will lose their wired money before they know the scam is taking place.
Other red flags should be when money is requested through venues. There is a ton of CashApp scams, Bitcoin scams, Venmo scams, Steam card scams, and Amazon scams. Essentially, these are channels that provide gift cards or options to send money through proprietary methods. It can be challenging to track and get refunds on fake gift cards or other types of cards purchased through such platforms. Be wary of anyone asking for funds in this way.
Impersonating Authority Figures
Let’s expose some romance scammer tricks. Most people like to comply with orders from authority figures when they are lawful and constructive. Scammers know this and will impersonate authority figures in order to get victims to behave the way they want. This includes acting as imposters as police, firefighters, EMS workers, or other prominent authority figures.
This can extend to other areas, as well. People may contact you online or over the phone impersonating IRS officials, bank employees, or similar authority figures who may pressure you into giving financial information.
Fear and Intimidation: Threats, Blackmail, and Ransom
Scammers love to use the power of fear or worry about playing on human emotions and getting the reaction they want. Many scams involve threats of violence, police action, or harm to friends or family.
A popular scam is to collect information on a victim’s family member’s identity and then use it to create the illusion that the family member is in some danger—thus pressuring the victim to act on their demands. If someone contacts you with threats of ransom, kidnapping, blackmail, or police action, make sure you are certain it is credible before contacting the authorities for help. Do not try to handle things yourself. The romance scammer tactics are very well crafted.
Whether via email, Facebook, or a dating site, scammers will use fake profiles to target their victims. This might mean using random pictures of strangers to try to sneak into your contacts or friends list.
It might also mean “spoofing” or imitating a family member or friend to make it appear like a trusted person is contacting the victim. Verify all email and social media accounts before opening communications with anyone. Knowing how to tell if someone is scamming you online is critical.
Other Romance Scammer Tactics: Playing the Victim
In a similar way to playing on the desire to comply with authority figures, scammers will also play on peoples’ willingness to help those in need. Scammers know that if they approach you as the victim of crime, tragedy, or other sorts of loss, you will be more inclined to help them. If you are approached by someone online looking for help, try to do so through credible channels. There are many ways to help those in need online, but they don’t usually involve direct unsolicited requests.
Beware of romance scammer tricks that are meant to tug at your heart. For example, partners stranded in far off locations like military bases or oil rigs, or financial partners stuck in foreign countries needing funds to bail them out. We may think we won’t fall for these outlandish tales, but in the end,, it’s easy to be taken advantage of because of excitement or emotions.
If someone approaches you with stories about needing help with expenses, surgery, gambling debts, custom fees, or travel documents, you should proceed with extreme caution.
Red Flags in Email Communications
Please pay close attention to the information provided in your email heads to help catch crooks before they get a chance to do their work. It can be complicated to copy or fake an actual email from an organization like Microsoft or the Federal Government. This makes for a weak spot in scammer techniques.
Look carefully at the end of the email address, also known as the “domain.” Using the names of famous companies such as Microsoft, scammers will try to slip through your detection. Check to make sure an email from someone “@microsoft.com” isn’t actually from someone “@micorsoft.com,” (note the intentional transposition of letters), or someone using an alternate domain like “@microsoft.co.”
Similarly, some organizations will never contact you via email about specific affairs. The IRS, for example, does not contact individuals over the phone to collect money. Other companies have similar policies, so be careful if you get a fake email from Paypal, Craigslist message, or Amazon login request asking you to pay money directly to them.
What To Do If You Think You’re Being Scammed
Whether your scammer is trying for financial, social, or emotional gain, there are a few ways to guard yourself if you think you may be a victim:
- Talk to someone. Run your situation by friends or family or someone you can trust. We can often get excited about the prospects of financial or romantic gains, and our perspective can be skewed. Bouncing your situation off someone with a more relaxed view can save you from trouble.
- Cease communication. Whether it’s about email, social media scams, or phone scams, it is essential to halt all contact with the potential criminal immediately.
- Search for them. If you have a scammer’s supposed image, try searching it through a reverse image search online. Using Google or another powerful search engine can help you turn up other copies or locations of the same picture. If it doesn’t match the information you have, it should raise major red flags. You can also do simple searches online using the information they have already provided you, or even pay for a service to do some background check on the potential scammer.
- Do your research. If someone contacts you asking for money for an organization, investigate that organization. Research the channel through which they want to exchange money or information. If someone has a heartfelt story or fascinating tale about their job or relationships, try doing a simple Google search or other research. Since scammers have to try their techniques on as many people as possible to find success, it means you can find traces of their previous attempts online.
How To Report a Scammer
Let your friends know how to tell if someone is scamming you online. Feel free to share this article on social media and report scammers or any other suspicious activity. How? You can do it through the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) using the link below:
How To Protect Yourself More
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Last but not least, educate yourself with some other fraud-related articles under this paragraph, so that you know how to stay safe online. Use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.
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