Everyone knows how important it is to be cautious online and when interacting with someone you don’t know on the phone. But there are so many many frauds and scams out there to try to keep track of. How do you know what to look for, and how to avoid becoming a victim? For that, a scams guide can be invaluable.
Use this A to Z list to keep your eyes open for all sorts of potential scams online or by phone.
Scammers pay people to write good reviews for their e-commerce store, website, or product, trying to encourage you to waste money on what is really an inferior product.
Bank Account Fraud
You probably use your bank account almost every day, whether you’re sending money for rent, transferring money to a savings account, or just paying for everyday purchases. If someone illegally gets a hold of your bank account information, they can easily charge purchases to your bank account, taking your money for their own use.
One of the most well-known frauds (thanks in large part to TV shows and movies that focus on it), catfishing involves an online date pretending to be someone he or she is not. The individual may just be looking for attention. But many people have been scammed out of thousands of dollars or more because of their love for a fake persona.
A scammer will call you or even come directly to your door, informing you that you’re delinquent on a debt and must pay immediately. He or she may even threaten your well-being, freedom, or citizenship, hoping it will encourage you to pay.
Elderly people are at high risk for manipulation. Unfortunately, that sometimes occurs at the hands of their children and caregivers. With this scam, someone close to the elderly person encourages him or her to make poor financial decisions, so that the younger person can benefit.
This tends to be more of a dishonest business practice. While planning for a loved one’s funeral, you may be pushed into buying extra services or a fancy casket, without being informed of the actual benefits and drawbacks to each, or the true cost.
Congratulations, you’ve won! Of course, you haven’t actually won anything. These scammers will ask for personal information to “deliver your winnings,” but instead will just take your information and run.
With this ruse, a scammer shows you a rental house, condo, or townhouse that he or she doesn’t actually have the right to represent. Then they make you sign a “lease” and have you hand over a down payment to secure the place. Before you can ask for the key, that person vanishes, and you’ve just lost money to a rental scam.
This is a popular scam, and one many have fallen victim to. You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, telling you that you’re delinquent on your taxes and must pay immediately. Of course, you’re not paying taxes; you’re just paying an imposter.
It’s important to show up for jury duty. If someone calls, telling you that you’ve missed jury duty and a warrant has been issued for your arrest, it would make sense to be scared — maybe even scared enough to give them “payment for your delinquency” over the phone. Don’t fall for it. You won’t be arrested simply for missing jury duty. And a phone call would not be how you would be informed about delinquency.
All a scammer has to do is get you to open a seemingly innocent program. Suddenly, that person has access to every character you type. From there, the scammer can get credit card information, passwords, and more.
Similar to giveaway scams, this scam informs you that you’ve won millions of dollars by playing the lottery. There’s only one catch: you have to pay a small fee, just a few hundred dollars, to receive your winnings, which are supposedly in the millions.
Many people download a number of files every day. It’s easy for scammers to sneak in something that can give them access to your computer. Once they have that, it’s only a matter of time until they capture your personal information.
This is easily one of the most popular scams. In one version of the scam, a bank official or businessman you’ve never heard of contacts you, claiming they’re in charge of monumental funds that you can take advantage of. They just need some money up front to cover transfer fees, or your bank account information to transfer the money directly. Of course, they’re really just a scammer who wants your money and access to your bank account.
With this bait-and-switch scam, you pay for something you found on an e-commerce website, but then you receive a different (and likely inferior) product in the mail. And, if you’re using a credit card or debit card, inputting your information on an unknown website could easily open you up to theft.
This scam is wide-reaching. A scammer manages to make content look like it is from an official website, email address, or individual, but it’s actually fraudulent. Many scams fall under the umbrella of phishing.
Although QR codes are very efficient, they’re also very easy to hijack. A scammer puts a sticker with a fake QR code over a poster or sign with a real QR code, so when an unsuspecting victim scans the code, he or she is taken to the scammer’s site.
If you’ve ever been called by an automated number with a recorded voice on the other end, you’ve been robocalled. Sometimes, robocallers will tell you to press a button to be removed from the call list. But that just lets scammers know you picked up the phone and are a real person. The calls will only escalate from there.
This can go one of two ways. You may be contacted out of the blue and told you’ve won a sweepstakes, but you have to pay a fee to receive your winnings. Or, you may be told that there’s a wonderful sweepstakes prize that you’ll surely win, but there’s an entry fee. Either way, be suspicious.
Automated software recognizes when you’ve clicked away from a tab and then redirects you to a fake login screen. You input your credentials, and the scammers suddenly have your information.
There are genuine times in which the government, your employer, or another individual may owe you money that you haven’t yet claimed. However, if you’re told to pay a fee to access it, or someone asks for identifying information over the phone, it’s probably a scam.
Many veterans are elderly, disabled, low-income, or a mix of the three. This makes them prime suspects for scams, especially scams that target the fact that they’re veterans. Scams may ask for charitable donations or ask for personal information to verify benefits.
Work from Home
This one’s simple: you get a work-from-home job offer, with flexible hours and a great salary. The catch? You have to pay an upfront fee or give out some personal information, which the criminals then use to steal your identity.
Xero is a real company. But unfortunately, its name has been used to spread an email scam that tells individuals their Xero invoice is ready to be paid. Of course, the links in the email lead to malware and other scam sites.
Your Order Has Arrived
This is a common Amazon-centered scam. You’re sent an email that says, “Your order has arrived!” and told to click a link for information on where to pick it up. The links, however, will only steal your information.
While actual malware is itself a problem, other scams, such as the ZEUS virus, simply tells users that their computer has malware and that they need to call a number to fix it. In fact, all you really need to do is close your browser window.