Millions of people lose countless dollars each year to scams. Learn how to spot and avoid being victimized by scammers. The Federal Trade Commision offers some great information regarding scams and updates their website regularly with current and common scams. Click here to find out more information about scams from the FTC.
According to aarp.org, grandparent scams typically work something like this: The victim gets a call from someone posing as his or her grandchild. This person explains, in a frantic-sounding voice, that he or she is in trouble: There’s been an accident, or an arrest, or a robbery. To up the drama and urgency, the caller might claim to be hospitalized or stuck in a foreign country; to make the impersonation more convincing, he or she will throw in a few family particulars, gleaned from the actual grandchild’s social media activity.
The impostor offers just enough detail about where and how the emergency happened to make it seem plausible and perhaps turns the phone over to another scammer who pretends to be a doctor, police officer or lawyer and backs up the story. The “grandchild” implores the target to wire money immediately, adding an anxious plea: “Don’t tell Mom and Dad!”
For more information about the Grandparent scam including warning signs and tips for avoiding being scammed, visit the AARP website by clicking here.
Social Security Scams
The FTC is getting reports about people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) who are trying to get your Social Security number and even your money. According to the FTC website, in one version of the scam, the caller says your Social Security number has been linked to a crime (often, he says it happened in Texas) involving drugs or sending money out of the country illegally. He then says your Social is blocked – but he might ask you for a fee to reactivate it, or to get a new number. And he will ask you to confirm your Social Security number.
In other variations, he says that somebody used your Social Security number to apply for credit cards, and you could lose your benefits. Or he might warn you that your bank account is about to be seized, that you need to withdraw your money, and that he’ll tell you how to keep it safe.
For more information about social security scam including things you need to know in the event you receive a call and how to report it, click here.
According to the FTC, people lose a lot of money to phone scams — sometimes their life savings. Scammers have figured out countless ways to cheat you out of your money over the phone. In some scams, they act friendly and helpful. In others, they might threaten or try to scare you.
One thing you can count on is that a phone scammer will try to get your money or your personal information to commit identity theft. Phone scams come in many forms, but they tend to make similar promises and threats, or ask you to pay certain ways.
More information from the FTC regarding phone scams can be found by clicking here.
Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information, according to the FTC. They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.
To find out how to recognize and protect yourself from phishing scams, click here.
Fake Check Scam
In a fake check scam, a person you don’t know asks you to deposit a check— sometimes for several thousand dollars, and usually for more than you are owed — and send some of the money to another person. The scammers always have a good story to explain why you can’t keep all the money. They might say they need you to cover taxes or fees, you’ll need to buy supplies, or something else.
Fake checks come in many forms. They might look like business or personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or a check delivered electronically. Click here to find out what you need to know about fake check scams.
The Division of Consumer and Business Education of the FTC says plenty of contests are run by reputable marketers and non-profits. But every day, people lose thousands of dollars to prize scams. Prize and lottery scams can start many ways, but they often begin with an unexpected phone call. The scammers may claim to be from the government or an official-sounding organization. They make wild claims about big winnings, and demand payment up front. If you get a call like this, hang up.
For tips on how to avoid being a victim of prize scams, visit the FTC website by clicking here.
Government Imposter Scams
Government imposter scams are very common. Government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Social Security Administration (SSA) won’t call, text, or email you out of the blue to demand payment right away. Some scammers even claim to be with the Sheriff’s Office or a court official saying you owe money and you’ll go to jail if you don’t pay immediately. Similar scams include someone claiming you’ve misssed jury duty and will be arrested if you don’t pay or provide certain personal information.
More information on how to spot government scams can be found on the FTC website by clicking here.