Updated: Jun 1
With the increasing dependency on technology that we have today, we have now become more vulnerable to the possible threats of doing “business”.
While technology has been a remarkable advancement for us all, it has unfortunately also become a key tool for scamming.
Now you most likely know what a scam is in general, you may have even been targeted in the past without realizing it.
However, to give a brief & broad explanation; a scam is an attempt to deceive and ‘fraud’ an individual or organization, with the intent of receiving either a monetary payment, a high-value resource, or a critical piece of information (i.e. social security numbers, bank statements, or credit/ debit card numbers).
The more we improve in terms of technology, the more complex scams become. While scams advance and become harder to recognize, some common scams seem to never truly go away. It’s these common scams that pose the biggest risks.
Since scams target both individuals and companies (of any size), we decided to go over some of the most common ones, as well as address 5 ways to recognize a scam.
TYPES OF COMMON SCAMS
1. Advanced Fee Scams.
“Scammers may promise you some kind of benefit: a loan, a prize like a foreign lottery, a government grant, an inheritance, an opportunity to work from home, or more. The catch is, that they want payment upfront before you can receive your benefit.”
One of the most well-known forms of this is called the “Nigerian Prince Scam” or the 419 Scam. This scam has been adapted several times. It was used via traditional mail, fax, and email.
2. Tech Support Scams
“Out of nowhere, you receive a call or a screen pops up on your computer – may be from a reputable company like Microsoft or an anti-virus company. They tell you that you have a virus or an error, and they can fix it before you lose all of your data. But first, you have to call the number on your screen allow them access to your computer, and/or pay them a sum of money. Sometimes they will use a “scan” of your computer to try to convince you there is something wrong.”
It is important to not believe them and not give them access to your computer or electronic device. Tech support scams may be the most complex ones. The scammer can look on your computer for your personal or financial information, add malware that will infect your computer, or add spyware so they can get your information in the future.
Phishing is more of an overall term as many scams will most likely use a tactic that classifies as phishing.
“If someone calls, texts, emails, or mail you asking for your personal information—e.g., social security number, credit card number, bank account info, passwords—Do Not Give It To Them. Even if they appear to be a known company or claim to be from a trusted source, they may be scamming you to steal your identity or money.”
4. IRS/ Government Imposter Scams
“An IRS agent contacts you and tells you that you owe back taxes and must pay immediately. If you don’t, they say they will have the police come and send you to jail. There are variations of this scam, such as local law enforcement contacting you with a warrant because you missed jury duty, but almost always you will be asked to pay immediately via wire transfer or even gift cards and will be told to stay on the phone throughout the entire payment process...Or you may be asked for your personal information to confirm your innocence or to receive a tax refund.”
Dealing with any form of government or law enforcement can be stressful. That stress is exactly what they are relying on. It’s important to stay calm and focus on confirming whom you are talking to. If you think you really may owe on your taxes, go to the official IRS website to find a real IRS phone number to contact to confirm.
5. Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks
“The counterfeit checks in circulation today are high-quality forgeries. They might even fool your bank at first. You are asked to deposit their cashier’s check into your bank, keep some of the funds, and wire back the rest of the payment you owe – for a job, sweepstakes fees, online transactions, or more.”
Always beware of large cashier's checks from strangers. The victim who deposits the forged check could be charged with a crime.
These are only a few of the hundreds of possible scams out there. Knowing the details is important, especially for preventative measures.
Now, what if you are engaged with a scammer? Because of the way a lot of scams are conducted, you may not be paying complete attention. They can happen very quickly, which is why it's important to remember the 5 signs of a scam.
Five Signs of a scam
1. They contacted you
When you contact a business, you know who's on the other end of the line. But when someone contacts you first, you can't be certain they're telling the truth.
2. They dangle bait—usually money
If someone dangles bait in front of you—a big prize, a shopping spree, an easy loan — for nothing, they're probably lying.
3. They want your personal information
Anytime anyone asks for your personal information — bank accounts, social security number, etc. — you should be on alert.
4. You have to pay them first
If someone offers you a prize, debt relief, or employment — but first you have to pay an upfront fee to get it —you're probably being scammed.
5. You have to wire money or send gift cards
If you're asked to wire money or send gift cards to someone to receive a prize or pay off a debt collector that contacts you, stop. This may be a scammer trying to take your money.
There will always be scams and people that want to take things from you. However, being able to identify, react appropriately, and protect yourself from falling victim to scams is the best you can do.
While Guero’s Pallets’ is based in Illinois, the previously quoted information comes from texasattorneygeneral.gov. The information is used for general definitions that do not differ by state. If you believe you are a victim of a potential scam visit your city/ state’s official ‘.gov’ site.