Wednesday, March 29

How to Protect Yourself Against Scams?

One of the things I hate most in the world is losing money. Wait, you know what I hate even worse? Losing money because of a bad decision or negative influence.

If you're reading this, chances are you've come to the following realization: money doesn't grow on trees. As a result, most of us work hard for our money and the thought of someone manipulating our intelligence to steal from us is upsetting. These manipulations, commonly referred to as scams, are continuously evolving. While the goals of each scam may vary, most follow the following 3-prong formula:

  1. Establish a connection with the victim.

  2. Establish credibility or authority.

  3. Pressure the potential victim into a rushed, emotional decision.

Common Recent Scams

Here are a few of the most common recent scams that individuals should be aware of:

The Relative Scam
Relative scams are often received via e-mail. A family member sends you a frantic e-mail informing you that a situation has taken a turn for the worst and that they need money immediately. The scary thing about these scams is that they can come from a familiar, trusted email address.

The Business Proposition Scam
In this case, an unknown business person emails you with a seemingly perfect business proposition such as an opportunity to invest in precious metals, pharmaceutical drugs, or wholesale products of some sort. The scammer instructs the victim to wire transfer money and/or provide important information to take advantage of the opportunity.

The Distant Lover Scam
The most personal of scams often begins develops in online chat rooms or dating sites. The scammer initiates and builds a "loving," online relationship, which eventually leads to requests of financial support from the victim.

The Tax Scam
This occurs when a scammer contacts the victim (often via phone) and informs the victim that they owe taxes to the IRS and must make payment arrangements immediately to avoid jail time or other harsh consequences.

The Bogus Web-Site Scam
In this scenario, a false online business is usually set up to trick victims into purchasing product from a sham company. The victim pays the fake company for merchandise. The victim doesn't usually realize they have been scammed until the merchandise fails to appear and/or after failure to connect with customer service due to non-existence.

The Tech Support Scam
This scam can occur in a variety of ways. The most common is as a pop-up on the computer insisting that you have contracted an unknown virus. The pop-up instructs you to click a button to resolve the issue; however often times you're redirected to another window requesting your personal information and possibly payment.

The threat of this scam goes beyond monetary loss, as the disclosure of one's private information increases victim vulnerability.

How to Protect Yourself Against Scams

What can you do to protect yourself against scams?

  • Never wire transfer money to a person you have never met. Wire transfers are rarely used.

  • Be extremely cautious about providing information online.

  • When shopping online only do so with reputable, well known retailers. If you want to support an emerging, small business, call the customer service number listed on the site before placing an order to ensure legitimacy.

  • If someone calls asking for important information and the call seems out of the ordinary hang up and call the company back at the customer service number provided on its website. If the business does not have a website, that's a huge red-flag.

  • Lastly, get informed and remain informed. The National Consumer Protection Week is a collaborative effort of several non-profit organizations and posts informative articles throughout the year. It provides tips and resources to help consumers spot and avoid identity theft and fraud. By signing up for the email list, consumers gain access to a large network of experts, law enforcement agencies, and community members that keep consumers updated on the latest scams in your area.

Stay safe!
Tonya

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