History is jammed packed with stories of innovative ways that scammers have used to trick people to give them their money. Their possessions. Their homes.
With e-commerce. Information on the web. Social media. Robo-phone calls. It’s even easier to fall into a scammer’s web of deceit.
So, how can you tell if you are one of their targets, what are the signs of a scam?
Well, there is no single solution, but there are warning signs that can tip you off to whether it’s a bona fide offer (or company) or a trick to get your money.
The Offer Is Too Good to Be True. A product that you’ve always wanted at a ridiculously low price. That you won a contest (that you never entered). That you were recommended by a friend (hackers create fake identities using your friends’ profiles) and the friend never mentioned it to you. That you won a lottery. A prize.
Find out as much as you can and then Google it. For example, you won a Samsung TV and all have to do is pay $100 for shipping charges. Google the term “Samsung TV Scam”. Get phone numbers to call back. Most scammers won’t give you phone numbers. Don’t rely on email addresses because those could be fake too.
Are There Grammatical or Spelling Errors? Yes, we all make mistakes, but poor English or grammar is a sign that you might be dealing with a scammer. You may think that the person is not well-educated, but experts say that might not be the case. Sometimes they are deliberately worded that way to filter out the smarter people, and the most gullible become the victims.
Hurry, This Offer Won’t Last Long – Scammers use fear or urgency as a tactic to bully you into action, so you don’t have time to ask for help or think things through or do your research. Legitimate companies will give you time to make a decision.
They Ask You for Money – At some point, they are going to ask for money. (See The Offer Is Too Good To Be True.) They will ask for payment in advance to give you the information about the lottery that you “just won”. They will ask you to “wire” funds. Even though the bank can trace the funds, scammers often close the bank accounts right after receiving the money. Don’t give your credit card info either—unless you are absolutely certain that it’s not a scam. They will use your credit card info to buy stuff.
Do you have a scammer story that you’d like to share so we can warn others? If you’re interested in more scams, check out our article on popular holiday scams!