Fraud comes in many different forms, but they all have one goal in common: tricking you into giving away your money or personal information. In today’s world, fraudsters continuously find inventive ways to come after you, and as we go about our daily lives, there are many traps they can set for us. Fortunately, there are some telltale signs that can help you identify a scam, and protect yourself from becoming the next victim. Here are some of the most common scams and how to avoid getting caught up in any of them.
One of the most common signs of this well know known imposter scheme is an unsolicited email or phone call from someone claiming to be from a government agency, bank, or other well-known organization. These fraudsters will often use official-sounding language and fake logos to try and convince you that they are legitimate. If you receive an unsolicited email or call from someone claiming to be from an official organization, don’t immediately respond. Instead, contact the organization directly using contact information from a trusted source to verify the legitimacy of the communication.
Some fraudsters find a way to hijack an official process – from buying a dog to selling a camera or car parts. Let’s say you are on Facebook Marketplace trying to buy a second-hand camera. They will pretend to be a seller, and ask you to send them money to release the item or ship it to you. Under no circumstances should you send money until you’ve got the device you’re buying in your possession. Some fraudsters have the technology smarts to set up a website or phone number that seems official so if people have an issue with Amazon, that phone number or URL will appear in the search engine results. An unsuspecting consumer clicks on this URL or phone number without realizing they are being ensnared by a fraudster. To avoid this, always make sure the contact number or email is official before you take any sort of action.
Fraudsters can approach us successfully con us by using our own good character against us. They can find ways to make us believe we’re in trouble for doing something wrong, and then either make us pay to solve a non-existent problem, or extort us to make an issue go away. For example, someone could be accused of committing a crime against them, or if you’re a small business owner, they can lodge the accusation of getting injured in your establishment. While these things do happen, some fraudsters can actually manipulate the situation so that they can extort funds from you. On the other hand, you might be a customer who got injured in an establishment, and they could try to gaslight you into thinking you’re the one at fault so they can get out of paying, or even worse to get money out of you for damaging their property. Anytime you get any form of official letter threatening to sue, get in touch with your own attorney so they can make sure it’s not a scam. According to the team at The Barnes Firm Los Angeles, “it’s always a smart first step to any legal proceedings to talk to an expert who knows the letter of the law and can help you navigate the situation without getting manipulated.”
Fake Prizes and Products
Another red flag to watch out for is an offer that seems too good to be true. Fraudsters will often use promises of large sums of money or fantastic prizes to try and lure people in. This kind of switcheroo comes in many forms, for example if you subscribe to a popular YouTuber, a fraudster might pretend to be that influencer and tell you that you’ve won some sort of great reward. They then ask you to pay for delivery, and that’s how they make their money. To avoid this, make sure whatever competition you’re in is legitimate, and that the person/company giving away the prices is a real person and not an impostor.
If you watched the Netflix documentary, “The Tinder Swindler”, you’ll know that not everyone on dating sites is there to meet a romantic partner. Some people manipulate the people in this vulnerable space to gain money, and you can get extorted very easily if you’re not aware. What is a romance catfish? It comes in many forms, but typically, a person will meet a potential partner, pretend they are interested and once they’ve gained their trust ask them for a sum of money to help solve a problem they have. Unfortunately, the victim discovers way too late and there’s no way to get their money back. It’s important not to give a potential partner money, and to try as hard as you can to do your homework about who you’re dating before it goes too far.
Fraudsters use increasingly sophisticated methods to trick people into giving away their personal information or money, and the types of frauds they use are constantly changing and keeping up with the latest technology and trends. It’s important to take whatever steps you can to protect yourself, and it starts with awareness. After awareness, you can take the appropriate action to keep your valuables safe.