You may think you’re not dumb enough to fall for scams, but consider that someone you care deeply about is naïve enough to be conned. Besides, some scams are so clever that even those who think they’re scam-proof have actually been taken for a ride.
Sometimes fraudsters pose as an authority figure. Some claim you won a prize, while others claim you’re in trouble. Some even claim they’re a family member (needing money) and have figured out a way to convince you of this.
Some scams are done via e-mail, while others involve a phone call or snail mail. One common ploy is for the crook to pose as a rep from the electric company and threaten to shut off your electricity unless you pay a delinquent bill. Of course, the payment must be in the form of a reloadable debit card. People will actually give these cards to the “rep,” without calling the company to confirm the situation.
A big tip-off to a scam is that you’re told you won a prize or have been hired for employment—but must send money to get the prize or be trained for the employment.
Some scams are so very obvious, but still, people get taken, like those ridiculous e-mails claiming you inherited a windfall from some deceased prince named Gharbakhaji Naoombuule. But people actually fall for these, not considering that this same e-mail was sent to 10,000 others.
Top 10 Scams of 2014
- Caller ID spoofing. Has your phone ever rung and you saw your phone number and name in the caller ID screen? How can your own phone be calling you? It’s a scam. Ignore it. If you pick up you’ll hear an offer for lower credit card rates. You’ll be told to press 1 to opt out—but you should not even be on that long to hear this option; you should have hung up the second you heard the credit card offer. Anyways, pressing 1 indicates your number is legitimate; it’s then sold to scammers. Caller ID spoofing is also perfect for scammers posing as the police, government agency, corporations etc all with the intention to get you to part with your money.
- Mystery shopping. Though mystery shopping is a legitimate enterprise, scammers take advantage of this and mail out checks (phony) before the “shopping” is done. A legitimate company will never do this. They also get victims to give up credit card data to pay for getting a job!
- Calls about unpaid taxes. Always hang up, regardless of threatening nature to pay up or else. The IRS always uses snail mail to notify people of unpaid taxes.
- Puppy scam. You find a website offering purebred puppies at very low prices or even for free, but you’re told you must pay for shipping or transfer fees (wire transfer) to get your puppy. The money is gone and you never get your puppy.
- Timeshare. You get a call from someone claiming to have found buyers for your timeshare. You receive a contract, but are told you must pay funds to cover some fees. The contract is phony.
- Tech support. Someone calls you claiming your computer needs servicing. They’ll fix it after you give them your credit card information. Legitimate geeks don’t call people; you must call them.
- Postcard survey. Out of the blue you’re told you’ve won a gift card, or, just take a brief survey to get one. Go along with this and soon you’ll be asked to provide your credit card number. Don’t bother. You’ll get no gift card while the crook gets your credit card information.
- Sweepstakes. A notice says you’ve won a big fat prize. To claim it, just pay some fees. Yeah, right. Never pay fees to collect a prize!
- Grants. You’re told you’re eligible for a grant or have been awarded one, but must first pay processing fees. Federal grants don’t require fees.
- Subscription renewal notice. The notice says you can renew for a lower rate. Check to see if the notice was sent by the publication itself or some third party (the crook).