People have found countless ways to scam others out of money. Phone scams are becoming increasingly common—many lose money from these scams, and some even their life savings. In some scams, they are threatening and try to scare you. Others may act friendly and helpful. No matter what way they choose, scammers are sure to try to get your money or even personal information to commit identity theft. Today, I will discuss some of the most common lies scammers tell and how you can avoid getting scammed.
There are many very common types of scams-
- Extended car warranties
Scammers may find out when you bought your car and what kind of car it is. They will then use this information to convince you to buy overpriced or worthless service contracts.
- Prize and lottery
A scammer may call you and say you have won the prize you most likely did not sign up for and that you must pay shipping charges, registration fees, or taxes. After you pay these fees, you will learn there is no prize.
A caller may pretend to be someone you trust, like a family member, a government agency, or someone claiming you have problems with your computer. With this scam, they may even change the caller ID to a fake number to seem more convincing.
- Debt relief and credit repair
With this scam, you will get a call from someone offering to fix your credit, forgive student loans, or lower your credit card interest rates. However, after telling you this, they will say you must pay a fee first, which will cause you to lose your money and ruin your credit.
- Business and investment
In this scam, the caller may guarantee big profits from an investment, give business coaching, or offer to help start your own business.
This scam is just how it sounds. The caller will try to get you to donate to a charity, but always check the charity out before deciding to donate.
- “Free” trials
Scammers may tell you they can give you a free trial, but they will sign you up for lots of products, and you will be billed every month until you cancel.
- Advanced fee loans
Scammers target people with poor credit histories and promise a loan or credit card, regardless of your credit history, for a fee upfront. Legitimate lenders do not make guarantees, especially if you have no credit, bad credit, or bankruptcy.
Now that you know how someone may try to scam you, you may be wondering how do I stop a scammer. If you have already answered the phone, the best thing to do is hang up. If it is a robocall, do not click any buttons. The robocall may say it will let you speak to an operator or remove you from their call list, but it may cause more robocalls. Your phone carrier may also offer call blocking to avoid these calls altogether. Lastly, do not trust your caller ID. Scammers can do spoofing, where they choose whatever name or number they want to show up on your caller ID.
When answering the phone, remember there is always a chance it is a scammer. Make sure never to send money to someone you do not know or have recently met. Never ever give your bank information to anyone unless you know with whom you are dealing.
In addition, banking fraud is an unfortunate fact of life these days. So when shopping online during the holiday season, or any time of year, always be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, and do your part to avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim.
Since time is of the essence when it comes to catching unauthorized transactions, it’s essential to regularly review your bank statements or online banking transactions. Doing so will ensure you catch questionable charges right away. When reviewing your monthly checking account statement or online activity, you may notice a purchase you didn’t make. If you find any unauthorized transactions in your checking account, it’s crucial to handle the situation immediately. The process can be slightly different when fraud involves a debit card rather than a credit card. If you discover a fraudulent charge, you should contact the bank immediately and speak to its fraud department.
Avoid scams by protecting yourself. Follow these tips:
- Avoid answering unfamiliar phone calls, letters, or emails.
- Never give out personal information.
- Keep operating system and virus protection software up-to-date on computers and mobile devices.
- Use safe and secure WiFi connections and avoid public WiFi.
- Make sure the websites you are using are secure.
- Ensure all accounts have strong passwords.
Though there are many forms of scams, the objective is to steal your money or information. Therefore, please don’t ignore any suspicious signals; report them immediately! The longer you wait, the more time-consuming, costly, and exhausting it can be to rectify the situation.
Written by Vicki Hayman, MS, University of Wyoming Extension Nutrition and Food Safety Educator