Con artists will make every attempt to gain your trust and confidence. It is our job as consumers to be on the lookout for individuals attempting to take advantage of us. With countless scams out there, we’ve compiled a list of common scams you should be aware of.
- The Con: You meet the con artist through a dating website. After a few weeks, a financial crisis occurs and the only person that can help is you. Because you are (generally) emotionally attached, you send the scammer the money.
- The Truth: While anyone can be the victim, the most common targets are women over 40 who are divorced, widowed and/or disabled. Don’t make any financial commitment with someone you meet online or otherwise until you actually know the person. Then, offer to pay the debt directly instead of sending cash.
MYSTERY SHOPPER SCAM
- The Con: You come across a job promising money in exchange for being a mystery shopper. You are then required to pay fees for certification and participation, or accept/send money for each mystery shopper task you complete.
- The Truth: Legitimate mystery shopper jobs ask you to perform free/inexpensive tasks, such as watching movie trailers or making a purchase at a particular store. Legitimate programs will neither prepay nor ask for money in exchange for a job.
- The Con: You receive an email stating you won the lottery in a foreign country and are instructed to deposit the winnings via check and send back a small portion (by wire or cashier’s check) to cover the tax.
- The Truth: Federal law prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets. The con artist receives the funds you sent and shortly after, the deposited check is returned and your account is drawn negative.
- The Con: The con artist will attempt to pay for whatever it is you’re selling by mailing you a check. The check is “accidentally” written for more than the agreed upon price. The con artist asks that the difference be sent back to him through Western Union. Similarly to the Lottery scam, the original check is a fake.
- The Truth: The best way to avoid this scam is to deal in cash, in person and in a public place.
CARD CRACKING SCAM
- The Con: The con artist will contact you asking you to open a local bank account and mail him the debit card. In return, you’ll receive a quick buck for your help.
- The Truth: The debit card is used to overdraft – bringing the account negative. Since you opened the account in your name, you are now responsible for the negative balance.
IRS BACK TAXES SCAM
- The Con: You receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, who states you owe money in back taxes. If not paid promptly you will be subject to arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. They may request payment by credit card, check or even gift cards (which are hard to trace).
- The Truth: The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. The IRS will always give you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe and will not ask for card numbers over the phone.
MICROSOFT/TECH SUPPORT SCAM
- The Con: You receive a phone call from (or see a message displayed on your computer that asks you to call) an agent of Microsoft, HP, Dell, etc. The con artist instructs you to download a program that will fix an imaginary problem, and will cost several hundred dollars.
- The Truth: Most computer manufacturers do not deal in technical support. Only ever call the number listed on the company’s secured website, and familiarize yourself with your antivirus/Internet security program. If you do not have one of these programs it is highly recommended that you purchase one.