SCAMS AND CON GAMES
A scam means to defraud or embezzle or cheat as the case may be. Scam may also be likened to fraudulent deal, con game or confidence tricks. In fact it has taken different dimensions in the modern age. We hear stories and news about organizations getting conned of their money, accounts getting hacked, identity thefts, individuals being cheated online and so on. Scams come in various forms, shapes and sizes.
A person who scams is referred to as a scammer. Scammers will often try to take advantage when you’re feeling vulnerable and try to extract more money from you through different exploitable methods. Scammers know how to press your buttons to get what they want. They use different kinds of words and tactics just to exploit and achieve their desires.
Scams are targeted at people of all backgrounds, ages and sex and income levels across the world. There’s no one group of people who are more likely to become victims of a scam. It’s not only a naïve or gullible mind who fall victim; all of us may be vulnerable to a scam at some point in time. Millions of older adults fall prey to financial scams every year.
Scams succeed because they obviously look original like the real thing and catches you off guard when you least expected. They exploit your desire to be polite and respectful as well as your generosity, compassion and good nature. Statistics as shown that lots of scams and cons have been conducted via phone, emails, internet, mails, social networking, in person, text messages, faxes, etc.
Types/Forms Of Scams
On yearly basis countless of people lose their money and personal information to telephone scams. Typically phone scammers will try to sell you something you hadn’t planned to buy and will pressurize you to give up personal information like your credit card details or Social Security number.
Scammers sum together convincing and seemingly legitimate reasons to give you false hope about offers of money. There are no get-rich-quick schemes without hard work and sacrifice so always think twice before handing over your details or money.
Scammers will lure people with a surprise win. These scams try to trick you into giving money upfront or your personal information in order to receive a prize from either a lottery or competition that you never entered.
Fake Charity Scams
Scammers impersonate genuine charities and ask for donations or contact you on the basis of collecting money for relief efforts after natural disasters. Not all organizations that claim to be charities or help people are reputable. Some con artists set up fake organizations taking advantage of the public’s generosity immediately after a tragedy or major disaster have occurred.
Tickets for popular concerts, plays and sporting events can be expensive and are sold out quickly making it hard to support your favorite artists and teams. During this period while there are still scalpers outside of venues there are also many other ticket selling scams online by scammers.
Pyramid Schemes (Ponzi Schemes)
This is an illegal form of multilevel marketing. In these programs your ability to earn profits is based on the number of new participants you recruit instead of the amount of products or services you sell. Sometimes there actually aren’t any real products that are being sold. These types of schemes are common with investment and independent direct selling opportunities. These schemes basically rely on the income from new participants in order to pay fake profits to people that have been part of the scheme for longer amounts of time. However the scheme falls apart when there aren’t enough new recruits to pay into the system so the earlier participants no longer receive earnings.
Internet Love Scams
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.
Online Purchase Scams
Scammers prey on consumers and businesses that are buying or selling products and services. Not every transaction is legitimate.
Jobs And Investment Scams
Investment scams prey on your hope to earn interest or a return on investment, on the amount of money that you invest. If you are looking for a fast way to make money watch out – scammers have invented all sorts of fake money-making opportunities to prey on your enthusiasm and get hold of your cash.
Scammers use all kinds of sneaky approaches to steal your personal details. Once obtained they can use your identity to commit fraudulent activities such as using your credit card or opening a bank account.
Census Related Fraud
The U.S. Census Bureau is the federal agency in charge of data collection about the people and economy of the United States. It must collect some personal and demographic information from people and businesses to do this research. Some con artists may disguise as Census Bureau to collect personal information about you to use for fraud including stealing your identity.
More sophisticated scammers have found ways to fraud and scam when buying or foreclosing on a home.
Unfortunately recognizing scams are becoming impossible as fraudsters are becoming better at coming up with scams that appear legitimate. However there are questions that could indicate that you are potentially being scammed: Why are they calling me from out of the blue?
When you receive an email or text from someone that is not local to your area or official-sounding call unexpectedly this could be a scammer trying his or her luck to find out more about you for dishonest purposes, although some companies actually do contact their customers for legitimate reasons from time to time. Here the customer has to verify the company’s identity by asking details only that company would know such as details of your service contract, bank account details or payment details.
This Is Too Good To Be True
An adage says “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Scammers will make a promise of large financial gains for very little effort or commitment but do not be moved by greed. Approach each claim rationally and ignore such offers.
Why Is My Personal Detail So Needed Badly?
What purpose would a strange caller need with your personal details? Often they would use your valuable personal details for con purposes so disclose less over the phone to a stranger particularly if they cannot verify who they are.
Why Is This Person In Such A Hurry?
One of the keys to recognize scams/cons is that the scammers tries to hurry in your decision making. The scammed is to think rationally and this involves time so do not be pressured or rushed into making a decision before you have had a chance to think your decision through.
Why Are They Being So Coy/ Protective About Themselves?
A legitimate business would always reveal its true contact details such as a physical address or actual phone number which gives customers assurance that they can be reached at anytime if required. If you notice the business operates via P.O box or through a number that is difficult to trace, that is shady and you might be at a loss if something goes wrong with any transaction.
Why Is Their Language So Poor?
If you sense that it’s just vague initial inquiry, e.g. asking about “the item” or they are using poor grammar/spelling, it is shady. This is probably because they are scammers trying their luck. Legitimate companies are much less likely to exhibit poor grammar or spelling in their communications. If you are contacted by someone trying to sound official but with poor language skills it’s better to just ignore them.
Why Are They Asking Me To Keep This Quiet?
The answer here should be obvious; they are doing something wrong. Any deal should not have to be kept secret so if the person you are dealing with asks you to keep your dealings a secret this is a warning sign for you to get out of the deal quickly. They are likely doing their best to keep you from seeking objective advice which would lead you to back out.
Protect Yourself From Falling Victim
Be alert to the fact that scams exist. When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses whether it’s over the phone, by mail, email, in person or on a social networking site always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Remember if it looks too good to be true it probably is.
Know Who You’re Dealing With
If you’ve only ever met someone online or unsure of the legitimacy of a business take some time to do a bit more research. Do a Google image search on photos or search the internet for others who may have had dealings with them.
Keep Your Personal Details Secure
Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place.
Never Accept The word Of A Complete Stranger
Whether it’s someone on the phone, the internet or your doorstep, never accept anything they say completely. If a stranger rings you to tell you there is something wrong with your computer, or knocks on your door and says your roof needs fixing, decline their services politely and get someone you know and trust to take a look.
Scammers will tell you some scary story, e.g. about your credit card being cloned or your bank account being raided in an effort to stop you from thinking clearly. In fact if the police have arrested someone with your cloned card or the bank has spotted a fraudulent transaction being made that’s a reason not to panic. Do not give out information about your card or bank account to the stranger on the line. In particular neither your bank nor the police will ever ask for a password or pin number.
Scammers try to get you to act in haste because most scams have a fatal flaw if you only stop to think. Many people who have fallen for scams say afterwards how stupid they feel because with hindsight it was obvious.
Don’t Let Greed Get The Better Of You
How come someone out there can tell you that you have won millions on a lottery if you didn’t already know that you had won anything or hadn’t even bought a ticket? Why is someone offering you shares in the next big thing, rather than ploughing their own money in?
Hence do not be so greedy to the extent where you fall for such cheap cons.
Don’t Get Involved In Anything Blatantly Illegal
If you agree to help in a dodgy scheme you are putting yourself at the mercy of someone who is openly willing to cheat. Don’t be surprised if you are cheated because of a scam and you won’t have the drive to inform law enforcement agencies.
Do Not Open Suspicious Texts, Pop-up Windows Or Emails
If unsure verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Don’t use the contact details provided in the message sent to you. Delete them if unsure.
Rules Of Thumb
You always want to protect yourself every second. Any-time someone wants to get access to your bank account that is a BIG No-No! If you receive any-thing in the mail stating you have won something and that in order to collect the funds you will need to deposit into your bank account. That check just gave some business or person access to your bank account. Only thing should be deposited into your account is from a well known entity (Your Job, Insurance companies which you had done business with “provided a phone number is provided on the check”, a Government issued check, but check and verify if the check was issued from the Government and also don’t just deposit any government check that came in the mail out of the blue/ you have no clue why the check came into your mailbox, personal checks – only if you know that person for sometime).
Red Flags: Any Pay-Day Loans Check that comes in the mail you never signed up for, Mystery Shopping Checks, Lottery Checks-only from State issued but if you did win the lottery you would need to go to the lottery division in that State where you purchased your ticket and most of the time it will have the address where you can claim your winnings, Insurance Checks from a unknown source, Credit Card Refund- Check (unless you had a credit card and with that bank but I will still call the bank before cashing the check to question why was it issued- make sure the customer service number on the check is a number you are familiar with. Any-time you are not sure visit your local branch, have your Branch Manager look at the check. Any time you feel something is not right about the possibility of being scammed it is better to be safe than sorry and consult with someone else you trust.
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