Online Scams: The Top Tricks to Watch Out For
Better yet, warn your friends and family too.
If you haven't been scammed or conned on the Internet, count yourself smart...or lucky. As you likely know, con artists and scammers have moved from knocking door-to-door and stopping strangers in a mall or parking lot—they now know the Internet is the place to be.
The bad news is, they're having plenty of success online. And their also using regular mail (not just email) and phones too.
If you have dodged a scam, maybe it's because you're in tune to what's going on and follow the latest tech news.
However, your family may not have the same level of awareness—especially your parents, and grandparents. Even adult children aren't always on top of things as you might hope they are.
Help your friends and family avoid scams.
You can help those you care about to avoid being victims by being aware of the different types of scams out there, and sharing with them that the risk is REAL.
Sharing this article with them would help. Call them, visit them or take them to lunch and tell them that Internet scams are real and that scammers are getting:
- More creative than ever.
- More aggressive than ever.
- More successful than ever.
Here's what they should be on the lookout for.
Here are the most common and effective scam messages (or "come-ons," as they used to be called) to be aware of.
"There is newly-found money with your name on it!"
The lure of easy money is hard for anyone to resist, and sometimes people just might feel (or want to believe) that their ship has come in. That's why this scam finds success.
"You're the winner of a grand prize!"
No one ever seems to win any kind of contest. So, when someone thinks that maybe lady luck has smiled on them, it's hard not to get excited at first...and scammed right after.
"The war veterans need your support!"
When disasters, emergencies or important causes are in the news, many people are compelled to help. But how? Scammers leverage our human emotions to create fake charities that take real money.
"My darling, I need some money..."
Instead of playing on victims' hearts for compassion, some scam artists use passion and the promise of love to extract money from an online "friend" and romantic interest. Oftentimes the "friendship" that's forged, usually through social media, promises a loving relationship, but it's all take (money) and no give.
"I want to buy what you're selling...but can we talk?"
When someone is selling furniture, accessories or anything online, scammers will soon start coming. They'll say that they want to buy what's being sold (which we're glad to hear), but they'll ask for special arrangements to make the transaction happen. Somewhere in their request is a scam where you're sending them money!
"We have an investment strategy with super returns!"
The investment advice may seem sound, the "ROI" may be very enticing, the voice may sound intelligent, and the website may look 100% legitimate—and that's how and why investment scammers steal millions of dollars every year.
"For your safety, we need to verify your account information."
By preying on our instincts to stay safe (and to trust most intelligent-sounding people), scammers will impersonate bank personnel or others (the IRS) to obtain personal identification information and account numbers too. Then they betray that trust to steal our money.
"You need to pay us now! Or we'll take action."
By pretending to have authority (or be the authorities), scammers will demand payment on false overdue payments, such as back taxes. The threats and fear end up squeezing money out of frightened victims, usually elderly.
"Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?"
There's been recent supposed "scam" where a recorded voice gets tricks you into saying "yes" over the phone. The fear is that you've been tricked into saying yes to buying for more services. More likely, the callers have confirmed a live body is answering the phone—a live body that might be worth trying to scam.
Landlines, cellphones, Internet, mail...scammers use all methods.
Perhaps the best reminder you could share with others is this—scammers are everywhere.
They'll use the phone, Internet and the mail to get across an urgent message, a plea for help, or a promise of riches. So, be sure tell your friends and family (of all ages) the following:
- Don't believe everything you read.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it IS too good to be true.
- Never give out account information unless you are 100% sure of the caller.
- Don't trust anyone you've never talked to.
- Get advice from somebody you trust before engaging in any communications with others.