5 Ways to Spot Scammers in 2022

Posted by: Joseph Kuo | February 18, 2022

Title Image: Stop Scammers
Scamming has been exacerbated even further by the pandemic, with scammers taking advantage of an already anxiety-inducing climate. Be aware of these five red flags when checking your email, voice mails, or social media. This can help you avoid getting trapped by a scam.

Scammers keep getting bolder and more sophisticated with their extortion methods. From impersonating credit card companies to sending phony bills, there is no shortage of ways scammers will try to steal your identity or separate you from your money.

Scamming has been exacerbated even further by the pandemic, with scammers taking advantage of an already anxiety-inducing climate. Be aware of these five red flags when checking your email, voice mails, or social media.

Red Flag #1: They Make an Identity Claim

Many scammers use strategies in which they claim to be a reputable, trustworthy entity, such as a government agency or even your bank, giving a legitimate-sounding request for you to “verify your personal information” by going to a link in the email. In the past, such emails were easy to recognize due to being poorly written, but scammers now put out much higher quality fake messages that are copied from actual official communications.

Never click on email links or respond to messages asking for your personal information. For instance, many scammers claim to be government agencies claiming that you are eligible for additional COVID-19 economic support. Do not blindly trust these claims. A legitimate entity you have an established relationship with should already have your info and thus would not need you to re-send it. Never click on links in the email or text message; instead, go to the claimed entity’s web site directly and check it out yourself.

Another example of this type of scam is the social media friend/connection request of someone with an attractive profile picture and a message claiming to have known you from school or a past company. Once you add them, they look through your profile for information they can use to steal your identity.

In one variant, a scammer copied my friend’s profile picture from her account, created a fake profile, and then “re-added” her friends claiming that she had to reset her account. The scammer then posed as my friend to start posting referral links to merchandise.

For cases like this, do not engage. Unless you actually know the person or they give details that verify the connection they claim, do not add them or respond. If you get a sudden recommendation from a friend who usually doesn’t make that sort of post, check with the friend first to make sure their account wasn’t cloned or hacked.

Red Flag #2: The Scammer Need Your Response Immediately

A scammer’s goal is to get your personal information as quickly as possible, before you have a chance to think about what you are doing. Especially due to the pandemic, scammers prey on people’s fears. In addition to making a brazen identity claim, a scammer will often state that he or she needs information or money immediately, or something negative will happen to you or your family (or “your account will be deleted”). This sort of scam often comes via phone, where the scammer will try to talk you into hasty action. Be aware of this behavior instead of allowing it to induce stress.

I once got a voice mail from “UPS” claiming that they had a package for me, but that there was a fee due and unless I called them back today to pay this fee over the phone, the package would be returned. Instead of calling the number listed on the voice mail, I went to the actual UPS web site and called the official number listed there, quickly exposing the cover story to be a scam.

If you are already in contact with a potential scammer, they may even get even more aggressive about needing your information. This is another sign that you are dealing with a scam. A genuine source will never require you to reveal personal information in this manner.

Red Flag #3: Unusual Payment Methods

Once a scammer receives money from you, their goal is to disappear with it, becoming extremely difficult to track. If an entity is asking you to send money via a wire transfer or cryptocurrency, this is almost definitely a scam because these payment methods are tough to track and impossible to reverse.3

Red Flag #4: The Scammer Give Vague or Incorrect Details

This is one of the more obvious indications of a scam. For instance, a scammer may contact you about your son being in the hospital  when you only have a daughter. Or they give very general information without specifics that could apply to just about anyone. Oftentimes the message won’t even mention your name. Nonetheless, the frightening and urgent language of the call is meant to get you to respond hastily in the heat of the moment.

If somebody approaches or calls you with an offer or issue that clearly does not apply to you, hang up or get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

Red Flag #5: It Is Too Good to Be True

Unfortunately, getting an excellent deal is often a sign that it may be a scam. A scammer will promise you something that seems far too good to be true to draw you in. Even if a scammer’s website seems extremely official, or a scammer approaches you in person looking very professional, that is often a front to gain trust. This is one of the easiest ways to get scammed, and it can happen in almost any area of business. If you seem to be getting too good of a deal on insurance, a car, or a luxury item, do more research on the identity of the source.

Even if the offer does turn out not to be fraudulent, there will still usually be some sort of catch. A common example is the heavily discounted vacation at a luxury five star resort…that requires you and your spouse to sit through a long sales presentation. Always read the fine print.

It is much easier to get scammed than one would think. Make sure that you are aware of the telltale signs of a scam and avoid allowing your fear to get the best of you in these situations. Getting scammed is a taxing and costly ordeal that nobody deserves to experience.

 

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