Scams are not new – from the dawn of time, criminals have been looking for new ways to take advantage of people.
Unfortunately, scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and finding creative ways to part people with their hard-earned money.
As the internet and mobile phones have become more widespread, fraudsters are turning to the digital world to ply their trade.
They use more sophisticated methods, such as phishing emails and website clones, to dupe people into handing over their personal information.
But there are still some scams that have been around for a long time, and people keep falling for them – here are 12 of the most common ones you should avoid.
1. Email Phishing Scams
These scams happen when hackers dress up emails to look like they're from a trusted business or friend. They might ask you to update your account information or click on a link. But it's all a trick to steal your data.
To avoid this, never click suspicious links and double-check the sender's email address. If something seems off, contact the company directly through their official website.
2. Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams
In these scams, you'll get a call or email saying you've won a big prize. The catch? You need to pay some fees to claim it.
Real sweepstakes don't ask for money. So if you're asked to pay, it's probably a scam – always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Tech Support Scams
These scammers pretend to be tech support agents from big companies. They'll say there's a problem with your computer and offer to fix it. But in reality, they want access to your device to steal information or install harmful software.
The best way to avoid this is to never give control of your computer to anyone you don't trust. Always reach out to tech support through official channels.
4. Romance Scams
In the digital age, finding love online isn't uncommon. However, some people exploit this, pretending to be a romantic interest.
They gain your trust, then suddenly hit you with a ‘personal emergency,' asking for financial help. It's crucial to remember that genuine potential partners won't ask for money early in a relationship.
Always verify their identity before getting emotionally involved, and never share financial information or send money to someone you've only met online.
5. IRS Scams
This scam strikes fear in the hearts of many. Fraudsters impersonate IRS agents, claiming you owe back taxes and demanding immediate payment, often threatening legal action.
The IRS, however, will only call to demand immediate payment if first sending you a bill in the mail. If you receive such a call, hang up immediately and report the incident to the IRS.
6. Fake Charity Scams
Scammers know generosity can be a vulnerability. They exploit this by posing as charitable organizations, especially after a natural disaster or during the holiday season.
They'll ask for donations, but the money goes into their pockets, not toward the cause.
Always research before donating – genuine charities will be registered and provide clear, verifiable information about their mission, outcomes, and how donations are used.
7. Job Offer Scams
In job offer scams, fraudsters attract unsuspecting job seekers with attractive employment opportunities. They ask for payment upfront, supposedly for training or equipment.
Once the payment is made, they disappear, leaving victims without a job or money. These scams often target those desperately seeking employment. Avoid falling victim by researching the company extensively.
Be careful of uninvited job offers, especially those that require upfront payment. Genuine companies usually cover such costs themselves.
8. Debt Collection Scams
Debt collection scams involve fraudsters claiming you owe money, often using aggressive tactics and threats to take legal action.
They aim to pressure you into paying fictitious debts. It's important to know that legitimate debt collectors will provide written confirmation of any debt.
Do not reveal personal information or make any payments if you receive a suspicious call. Instead, request written proof of the debt and independently verify the debt collector's identity.
9. Advance Fee Scams
Advance fee scams ask for payment upfront for a product or service that never existed. These scams can include bogus rental properties, nonexistent pets, or phantom loans.
To protect yourself, be cautious about making advance payments, especially to individuals or companies you don't know. Always research the seller thoroughly and consider using secure payment methods offering buyer protection.
10. Identity Theft
Identity theft involves criminals stealing your personal information to commit fraud under your name. They might open bank accounts, take out loans, or make purchases, all in your name, causing financial and reputational damage.
Protect yourself by keeping your personal information secure and not sharing sensitive data with unknown parties. Regularly review your financial statements and credit reports for any unusual activity.
Protect your online presence proactively, including solid and unique passwords for all accounts.
11. Fake Investment Scams
Fake investment scams are designed to take advantage of those seeking a quick return on their money. These scammers offer ‘guaranteed' investment returns and tempt victims with promotional materials or glossy websites.
There's no such thing as easy money – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Before investing, carefully research the company and the person offering the investment. Also, be aware of unregistered firms or those located in offshore locations.
Phishing is an online scam that relies on tricking victims into providing personal information. Fraudsters will send fake emails, messages, or social media posts appearing to come from legitimate sources.
The purpose of phishing is typically to steal your data, like passwords and bank details.
To protect yourself, be wary of unsolicited communications asking for sensitive data. Check for typos, poor grammar, and suspicious links or attachments – these are common signs of a phishing attempt.
Be Cautious and Stay Protected
Staying protected from scams requires a lot of caution. Be aware of the different types of scams, research thoroughly before making payments or investments, and never share sensitive information with unknown parties. If you are not experienced or familiar with a situation, it's best to contact authorities or trusted experts for advice.
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.