By Kim Komando USA TODAY
Many people laugh at scams. We see an email from a mysterious stranger. The note is full of odd phrases and terrible misspellings. We instantly share it on social media. “The Prince of Nigeria wants to send me bars and bars of gold!” we write, along with laughing emoji. “Should I take it?”
But not all scams are so easy to spot. Spammers get more sinister every day, and they use real-sounding email addresses, personal data, well-phrased letters, and actual corporate logos to lure their victims. The savviest con artists work remotely, coaxing money out of people they’ve never met in person.
In this era of rampant data theft and cyber-crime, it’s more important than ever to be aware of swindlers’ stories because the effects can be felt for months or years. Most cons want to score fast money, but you’ll want to protect all your information from fraud, not just your credit numbers and bank accounts.
Here are some common scams and ways to defend yourself against them. You’ll want to share this know-how with your family members and friends on social media. It’s so easy to be taken by the swindlers.
1. Job scam
Some people joke about being “between jobs,” but there’s nothing funny about unemployment. Looking for a new job is stressful, and as the weeks turn into months, you may jump at any opportunity, no matter how dubious or grim.
Scammers know this, and they prey on desperate people. They send emails with headings like, “Your Resume” or “Work From Home Job.” At first, these sound like exciting opportunities. Can you really make $1,200 a week sitting on your couch?
Employment scams are common, and you don’t have to be jobless to find their offers enticing. Many of their targets are the unemployed or underpaid eager for a change of pace. No matter what the location or time of year, scammers find a needy victim with bills to pay.
This year, I’ve noticed a rise in two different types of job-related scams. These can look very convincing if you don’t know how to watch out for them.
Mailed Check: In this scam, you apply for a job and get a response. Your potential employer mails you a check. It’ll be made out to you for $500 or so. Of course, that should be a red flag. Why would they pay you before you start working?
Reputable companies won’t do that. But scammers will call you or email you to say the mailed check was their mistake. They ask you to wire the funds back to them. If you fall for it, their bad check won’t cover the funds so that the money will come out of your bank account.
Upfront Fees: Some fake companies will require an “activation fee,” or even upfront costs for “training” and “materials.” If you’re dying for work, you might convince yourself that this is normal because you need to “spend money to make money.” Don’t rationalize. Legitimate employers should not require fees.
2. Vacation scam
Many Americans get morose about vacations. They don’t have much time off, travel is expensive and complicated, and they’ll only return to mountains of unfinished work, so why bother?
So when you receive an email about an all-expenses-paid vacation package to Hawaii, you may do a double-take. Did you win some sweepstakes? Have you truly been randomly selected? Is this hotel handing out astonishing promotions?
Yes, it’s possible to win a vacation, but if you don’t remember entering a contest, run an online check. If you’ve never heard of the company offering you round-trip flights and luxury resorts, be skeptical. In this case, scammers will initiate contact with you. They may call you, send you an email or post a vacation package on Facebook. Then they’ll ask for personal data, like a credit card number to “hold the reservation.”
Never give this information away unless you know for a fact that the company is legitimate. In the meantime, vacations are healthy and life-affirming, but they are best handled on your own or through a respected travel agency.
3. Concert and theater scams
Similar to vacation scams, these scams start with someone contacting you, or you respond to an advertisement that you see posted online. The scammer says they’re selling tickets for a band you’ve been following for years or a hot show. They’ll excitedly tell you about the venue and the great value you’re getting.
The tickets aren’t free, but they are theoretically discounted. Once they ask you to wire money or submit credit card information, you may not even know it’s a hoax. Tickets can be easy to reproduce with the right gear. You may not know you’ve been taken until you’re turned away at the event because the tickets were fake.
4. Moving scam
Late summer is one of the busiest times of year to move into a new home. Whether you’re a student switching apartments or a parent moving to a better school district, you’ll probably find yourself migrating on a sunny weekend in August.
Fake moving companies may call you, or drop you an email, or leave a flyer on your doorstep. In the ugliest situations, the company will quote a number verbally, move you into your new home, and then demand far more money than you expected. There are some cases of “movers” packing all your worldly possessions into a truck and then driving off with it.
Do not fall for this scam. Most moving companies will offer to come to your home to see how much furniture they’ll need to move. They will give you a written estimate. They are bonded and have insurance. You get the point.
Here’s how to stay safe: Check BBB.org to see if the moving company is a reputable business. Then, have the movers come to your house before the move. Ask them for a final estimate before you pay.
5. Owed money scam
Everybody loves automatic payments because they save time writing checks or looking up charges. But as the years wear on, you may have forgotten to pay up. Cards expire, payments fail to go through, and we forget about them. We may even miscalculate our taxes, resulting in a bill and monthly fine.
So when we receive a letter in the mail marked “Urgent: Payment Requested,” we often think we’ve done something wrong. Did you forget to pay a cable bill in 2007, and should you send a check for $72.89 now? The information is so specific, why should doubt the letter’s sender? The last thing you want is a collections agency on your tail, so why not just pay the fee and get it over with?
In this case, you should make sure the collector is real. It is perfectly reasonable to receive a letter from a collections agency, especially if you’ve moved a lot or are forgetful about paperwork. But before you send any money, spend a few minutes to see whether this company is legit.
Speaking of money, there is one legitimate way you may get money back that you totally forgot about.
Bonus: No scam! Find your unclaimed money
Right now, there’s an estimated $41.7 billion currently held in government unclaimed property programs, and some of that unclaimed money could be yours. Maybe you forgot to get that deposit back from the electric utility when you rented your first apartment. An insurance company may have issued you a refund on a policy but couldn’t find you. You might have been enrolled in a pension plan that was discontinued.
In addition to utility refunds and insurance payments, unclaimed property includes abandoned savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, mineral royalty payments and contents of safe deposit boxes. Whew!
4 Common Facebook Scams and How to Avoid Them
Added on August 16 by Admin written by Dave A. Schippers
Email used to be the delivery method for scams and malware. The good news is, many people are aware of the scams and digital dangers in the email arena. The bad news is many digital miscreants have recycled and updated their digital scams when they followed the masses to Facebook. Below, I’ve compiled some digital dangers commonly employed against us.
Common Facebook Scams
Fake Links/Click Jacking – Fake news, free giveaways, etc. can be delivery methods for malware. Just like email scams of the past, these leverage stories, news or offers that catch your attention. The point is to have you click on a link or share something that propagates malware. Examples include:
- Direct Messages with links or attempts to get you to look at something.
- Links resulting in another login request for Facebook/Email Provider – this is to harvest your account.
- Surveys – Some surveys on Facebook are created to harvest information about users for identity theft/account hijacking/spear phishing (crafted attacks).
Fake Accounts – Fake Facebook accounts can fall into many different types of scams. Examples include:
- Account Cloning – I’ve seen this approach grow in frequency in the last year. Indications of a cloned account are a second Facebook Friend Request – if you’re already connected on Facebook, you should not receive a second Facebook Friend Request. The old email trick – “I’m in jail in a foreign country, can you send money?” has migrated to Facebook with a different twist.
- Friend of Friend/Relative – Some fake accounts are created and operated to entice you to trust them. Within a short period of time, they promise money or ask for it. Many scams revolve around large sums of money if you provide a fee or personal data.
- Romance – Another common scam are requests to “be friends” or “…get to know you”. I’ve seen many people fall for these accounts. They can be grouped into two primary categories:
- For the Lulz – Some people create and operate fake accounts for their own personal needs or dysfunctions. They may not ask for money and simply crave attention. I’ve seen men pretend to be women and women pretend to be men in the digital world.
- For the Money – These scammers are versed in spending time to build up a dependency. They may send you small amounts of money to build up their credibility. Eventually, it leads to needing money from you. Once this starts, they go for everything they can get. Many of these scammers know how to pull your heart strings to get what they want.
Your Employer – Sometimes it’s not about exploiting you, but who you work for. Cisco’s 2016 Annual Security Report listed malware delivered via Facebook scams as a top delivery method to compromise organizational networks. Great cybersecurity measures are easily compromised by enticing someone to click a link at work. Some employers block Facebook for these specific reasons.
Protecting Yourself – There are some key steps to protect yourself:
- Setup Security – Many people think their accounts are secure and details hidden. Many people lockdown their posts, but leave photographs, check-ins, etc. open. These are all great data sources for scammers to use against you. Lock everything down and test the setup. Open only the functions that you need to. (If you have security minded friends or family, ask them for help. Sometimes a second set of eyes spot missed settings.)
- Real World Suspicion – If you wouldn’t do it in the physical world, don’t do it in the digital world. If you met someone on the street who said they lived in your neighborhood 20 years ago and ten minutes later asks for your Social Security Number to give you $2000, you’d be suspicious. You should use the same scrutiny and judgement, and more so, in the digital world. Just because someone says something is true, does not mean it is. It just means they said it. “Never assume anything is true until you verify it yourself.” If it sounds too good to be true, 99% of the time, it is not true. Be cautious.
Here are some other scams that are currently going on.
- You get an Email or Texted saying you won a Smart TV and just take a short survey and just pay $12.95 for shipping. Bingo they now your Credit card or Debit card information.
- You get an Email or Texted saying you won an Apple iPhone 12 or a Samsung Galaxy they claim there from Best Buy again take a short survey and pay $1 Bingo they now have your Credit card or Debit card information.
- You get a text message saying there’s a problem with shipping your package saying delivery failed insufficient postage. You say to your self I didn’t order anything. Every one who has bought from Amazon, eBay or Walmart on line that at checkout they collect all fees. So again Bingo they now have your Credit card or Debit card information.
- You just won $5,000,000 from PCH and boy do they put a slick presentation up looking just like PCH.COM. All they ask is for you pay for all of their Accountant Fees up front first. Bingo they just took your money and had a good time. Per PCH they never tell anyone in advance that they have WON or collect Account fees.
- You get a text message that your extended car warranty is about to expire. What you don’t have a extended car warranty in the first place. Bingo here they go again.
- I get Emails, all the time, saying that I have been accepted into this fantastic money making Affiliates Marketing program. Just watch this Video. Boy do they try to make such a fantastic presentation with falls testimonials, like I made $500 the very first day using this Website program I got. And you can get all this, today, for just $39 dollars. Well the fact is once you pay that initial fee then comes the BIG Whammy. Oh you mean you want me to sped hounders of dollars for your coaches, for you to get the SEO ratings at the top of Google Search? Yes I am a legitimate Affiliate of Amazon. As this website you are reading this post on is all hand built from the ground up. Yes it has taken hounders of hours of work and research to put all of this together. So the bottom line is there’s no such thing as a Magical cheap website. The truth is there is NO such thing as Easy Money.
My Closing thoughts
First be very suspect of these types of scams. Do your research first before you get bitten Do a Google search on what they are trying to get you to do. The internet has some very valid information on all of these scams. So sit down have a cup of Coffee or a glass of Whine maybe a Beer or two and don’t get silly faced on Whiskey before you jump on the Scam Wagon.
There is an old saying ” there a sucker is born each day.” So don’t fall for these Scams.
Like Porky the Pig says “That’s all Folks.” So we will see you in the next Cartoon coming soon in a Theater near by you. So stay tuned for the next episode.
Caveat Emptor. Caveat emptor is a Latin phrase that can be roughly translated in English to “let the buyer beware.” In this case of Scams lets say it means “Let you beware of Scammers.”