You wouldn’t give your hard-earned money to just anyone, would you? You think not, but don’t be so sure.
As technology advances, scammers get more clever. But if you keep reading, you can, too.
Below are the most common scams of 2018. Read on and learn how to avoid the biggest scammers.
General Tips For Avoiding Scams
Before we get to specific scams, here are some rules of thumb for avoiding scams in general.
Know Who They Are
Anyone can call or email you claiming to be someone they’re not. It’s really not difficult.
Never make a deal with someone you don’t know and can’t find information on. Always get alternate contact information and use it to verify their ID.
Most scammers won’t give you a working phone number. Asking for their number is often enough to kill the scam.
Don’t Ignore Suspicion
If something seems fishy, it almost always is. When in doubt, check.
Don’t Trust Emails
In general, never trust an email. They are extremely easy to fake and basically untraceable.
Even emails from a friend may actually be from a scammer who hacked their account. If something’s out of place, don’t give in.
Don’t Trust Robots
Always hang up on robocalls. Many of these automated calls will say anything to scare you into giving info or money.
They’ll claim emergencies or say you’re suspected of tax fraud. Just hang up.
If there really was any such serious situation, you’d be contacted by a real human being over a recorded line.
Learn How to Spot a Fake
Email addresses of real people sound real. Email addresses of official companies sound official and professional. Email addresses that are a random jumble of letters and numbers are a spammer or scammer.
Don’t trust any robocall or any caller who tells you not to hang up. Whoever they claim to be, look them up online and call them before giving them anything.
Keep up-to-date on your knowledge of current scams. Check the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker to look these up. You can also use it to report scams.
2018’s Biggest Scammers
Here are the most common scams out there today.
Electronic documents are a convenient way for businesses to get you to sign and return important forms. Since they’re becoming more and more popular among businesses, they’re also becoming more popular with scammers.
These scammers send official-looking emails with official-looking documents requesting high-value info. They usually threaten some terrible fate, like account-seizure, if you don’t take action right away.
If you fall for it, you give them access to your bank account or anything else they want.
These may even show up in the mail, claiming to be anything from Red Cross to the IRS.
Always look up alternate contact info online and use that info to contact them for verification. This is doubly true of any mail or email you weren’t expecting.
The “IRS” calls you threatening persecution unless you provide payment or info right now.
Same as already stated, hang up, Google the number for the IRS and call them. If it is them, no harm done.
But it’s not them. They’d send a letter first.
These scammers claim to be an official emergency service requiring payment to save your loved one’s life. Then a second character claiming to be a terrorist takes over the call, adding more fear, and demands ransom.
The overwhelming fear of your loved one in danger blinds your logical mind to the simple truth: that’s not how emergency services work.
It’s called, “billing.” Those in need of emergency medical attention will always receive the care they need. Billing is worked out later.
Hang up and call 911 saying you received a threatening phone call.
“You’re a Winner!”
An email or phone call tells you you’ve won a magnificent prize. But there’s a catch. You have to pay a simple processing fee to redeem it.
What happens next? You pay the fee and get nothing in return.
As always, look up the info of their company and contact them yourself.
“Congratulations, you got the job!” A prospective employer contacts you offering a paycheck right off the bat. Once you cash it, they need a small portion of it back via MoneyGram as a processing fee or other such nonsense.
The problem is it’s a bad check. When it bounces, the bank takes the money back. And the untraceable MoneyGram you sent is gone forever.
Here’s how to protect yourself.
If someone you don’t know sends you a check, tell the bank and ask what you should do. If you do put it in your account, don’t spend any of it until the bank clears it.
It also helps to know how to spot a fake pay stub. Here’s a good guide on spotting fake pay stubs from the website of a professional check stub maker.
Also, never mail MoneyGrams. It’s like mailing cash. If something happens to it, even a mail error, it’s gone.
If someone demands you mail a MoneyGram, they are 100% a scammer.
While we’ve shown you the biggest scammers of 2018, they’re not the only ones. Use these tips to stay on guard against scammers.
Now check out 5 Bad Habits That are Ruining Your Credit Standing.