It’s sad to say, but every day someone comes up with a new scam to steal your hard-earned cash. So, here is a list of the Top 10 Scams For 2017 and things to be wary of along with some tips on how to safeguard yourself from becoming a sitting target for fraudsters.
- Fake News
Fraudulent or fake news is becoming an incessant problem on the internet and particularly social media. In some cases “fake” news is being deliberately generated and published to fool the masses for political reasons or financial gain. In other cases, fake news headlines are employed to persuade victims to click on links and download viruses and malware onto their mobile devices and computers.
TIP: It may be cliche, but don’t trust everything you read. Anybody can publish anything they want on the internet. Social media permits both fake and legitimate news to freely go viral. Study the initial source of all “news” content and be cautious of pop-up or unknown news providers. Simply because a news article has thousands or even millions of views, does not make it genuine. Use extreme discretion when clicking on links to news given to you by social media or email and be sure to routinely update your anti-virus software.
- Online Loans
Be cautious of deceitful online loan providers. Bogus loan companies with phony websites are known to scam people out of thousands of dollars. Most phony loan companies need applicants to pay fees prior to securing the loan and include items such as insurance fees, legal fees and interest payments. As soon as the “fees” are paid, the lender vanishes, no loan is given and victims wind up in even more debt.
TIP: Prior to applying for a loan, whether it’s in person or online, thoroughly research the business first. Be certain the company is a reputable, legitimate lender. Check out the company’s BBB Business Profile (bbb.org). Authentic financial lenders will not ask you to pay a fee for insurance, legal fees or administration fees before you get a loan. Usually, the cost of these aforementioned fees are included in the total amount of the loan and is not an extra sum you’re required to pay up front to secure the loan.
- Phony Customs & Delivery Charges
Don’t fall for bogus claims from phony delivery service providers saying that you owe delivery and customs charges for undelivered packages. Notices may arrive by phone, email or mail for unexpected deliveries. These notices are usually an attempt to solicit neighborhoods for vacationing or absent homeowners and/or to extort phony delivery and customs fees from gullible victims.
TIP: Be mindful of any anticipated packages or delivery services you frequently use (including the delivery service provider and the estimated delivery dates). Ask other businesses, family members or friends that are shipping you packages to inform you ahead of time that a package will be coming and which delivery service provider they are going to use.
- Bogus Apps
Exercise caution when buying online shopping or retail store apps. Fake apps are laid out to feel and look like they belong to authentic retail stores. Some bogus apps will overwhelm you with pop-up junk ads, while others will conclude with your personal information and credit card being stolen, or malware being downloaded onto your mobile device. In some cases, mobile devices have even been frozen and held hostage until you hand over some cash to the scammer.
TIP: Be extremely cautious when considering what apps to download. Read the customer reviews connected with the app really carefully and never click on a hyperlink in any email to download a new app. Go directly to the retailer website to obtain a link to the authentic app in the App Store. If you do choose to use an app, give the least amount of information as possible. Be very hesitant to link any credit card to any app. If you do link it and that app is bogus, scammers will steal all your account information and you money.
- Automatic Subscriptions
Many purchasers benefiting from trial offers or online deals for home care essentials, vitamins, vacations, health and beauty products and other items find themselves unintentionally signing up for pricey, seemingly never ending, automatic monthly subscriptions for products they don’t want. Be wary of hard to find, non-existent, or difficult to understand fine print hidden in the purchase contracts or terms and conditions. Offers that are too-good-too be true are just that and often surprisingly result in costly subscriptions, return shipping costs and cancellation fees.
TIP: Make sure you always read the fine print prior to making any online purchases. Nearly all free trials and online discounts come with some cost and are intended to seduce purchasers into becoming ongoing buyers of a service or product. Unscrupulous companies and scammers depend on victims not to have asked, searched for, or done their homework prior to making such purchases. Do not give your banking information or credit card to any business unless you are absolutely certain you understand the cancellation and return policies for a service or product.
6. Phishing Scams
No one is exempt! Countless computer virus and phishing scams disguise themselves as the websites or emails of legitimate companies and organizations. Utilizing the logo and good reputation of businesses, banks, charities, government agencies and non-profits, scammers send out an assortment of genuine looking, but bogus links created for you to click on so that they can put malware on your computer or pilfer your private information (such as account information and passwords).
TIP: Never click on any links within your social media accounts or open an email, or download any files unless you are positive you know for sure who it is from, what it’s all about and if it is genuine. If at any time you believe you may have become the victim of a phishing, internet, computer or email scam, make sure to have your computer scanned by a credible computer repair professional to determine if any malware exists.
7. Lottery Winner & Prize Scams
Prize winning and lottery scams come in multiple forms and shapes. Don’t fall for sensational offers of foreign lottery winnings, new technology, shopping sprees, a new car, exciting money prizes or dream vacations, particularly, if you don’t remember entering to win such prizes. Unanticipated lottery and prize scams depend on your enthusiasm to scam you into paying for fees to claim your prize, or into giving out private credit card, banking or personal information for purposes of stealing your identity.
TIP: It is illegal to win cash in a lottery from a country you are not a citizen of, and usually a resident. Genuine prize giveaways and lotteries don’t require you to pay taxes or fees prior to claiming your winnings. Keep track of all prize, lottery and contest entry forms that you complete. Be certain you know what items you might be eligible to win, when the prize will be declared and where it is coming from. Never wire transfer money to retrieve a prize. Be wary when phoning to retrieve a prize because some long-distance phone numbers charge a prime rate and can be very costly to call. Don’t hand over your personal private information or your credit card to claim a prize.
8. Third Party Application Services
Exercise extreme caution when appointing third-parties to help you with filling out and submitting applications for loans, grants and government services. An array of different companies and organizations offer “pay-for” services to help people with filling out applications for government services, debt consolidation, loans, passport applications and disability grants, as well as other government services. While many of these companies and organizations are genuine service providers, there are also quite a few scammers claiming to give similar services and setting their sights on naive victims.
TIP: Authentic “for-a-fee” application completion service providers usually require payment to help customers in guaranteeing that their applications are completed in full, submitted correctly and in a well-timed manner. Such services are typically meant to make the application process carry out smoothly for those with not enough time, disabilities or language barriers. Prior to hiring such representatives, it is crucial that you weigh the benefits against the costs, that you clearly comprehend the particular services you are getting, and that you fully understand the risks of giving out your personal information to a third party.
9. Fraudulent Tech Support
Consumers are vigorously being targeted (by online pop-ups, email and phone) by scammers masquerading as representatives of Apple, Microsoft or other Tech Support business. Victims are approached and notified that their computer has been infected with a virus. In order to “fix” the situation, the victim is led to a website, asked to give their credit card information for payment, and instructed to download an anti-virus program.
TIP: Computer manufacturers will never notify you if there is a problem with your computer. Computer virus scanning and maintenance as well as upgrades are the obligation of the computer owner. Treat all unwanted contact via pop-ups, email or phone, with suspicion. Never provide your banking or personal information to anyone unless you are certain you can trust the origin. Be sure to install anti-virus software independently and update it routinely.
10. Foreign Money Transfers
New spins on the Nigerian Letter scam persist in scamming naive victims. Watch out for emotionally charged social media posts, emails and letters from individuals in foreign countries asking for financial help, suddenly coming upon inheritance money, presenting investment opportunities or conveying the need to transfer money for any reason. In most cases, when an unfamiliar party asks for a wire or money transfer to an unidentified person in a foreign country, the story is false and your money is stolen.
TIP: Never, ever transfer or wire money or convey private banking or credit card information with strangers unless you are happy with having your identity stolen or losing all your money. Money transfers are for all practical purposes untraceable once it’s sent and received. Watch out for complex money transfer and check cashing schemes whereby money is deposited into your bank account or a check is given to you and you are then asked to write a check or send money to a different person. Identity theft and overpayment schemes are typical results from foreign money transfer scams.
The Bottom Line
If it’s too good to be true, 99.9% of the time it is. I know it’s cliche, but there is truth to this statement. Unfortunately, these top 10 Scams for 2017 are just the tip of the iceberg and I hope I’ve made you aware of a scam that you weren’t knowledgeable of before. My final advice is this – always keep your guard up, read the fine print and do your homework.
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