Scammers: according to the non-profit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), they’ve recently gotten bolder in their extortion methods, impersonating law enforcement on the telephone and even threatening people on the line.1
Scamming has been exacerbated even further by the pandemic, with scammers taking advantage of citizens in an already anxiety-inducing climate. Be aware of these five red flags when getting on the phone, checking your email, or using social media. This can help you avoid even getting trapped in a conversation with a scammer in the first place.
Red Flag #1: They Make an Identity Claim
Many scammers are now utilizing strategies where they claim to be a trustworthy source, such as a government agency or even your bank, in order to elicit information from you. If you receive an unusual call, text, or email with an unfamiliar hyperlink, this is a telltale sign that you might be in the process of being scammed.2
Never click on mysterious hyperlinks or respond to unsolicited messages asking for your personal information, especially if it involves money. For instance, many scammers are claiming to be government agencies providing an update on COVID-19 economic support. Do NOT blindly trust these claims.
Red Flag #2: They Need Your Personal Information Immediately
A scammer’s goal is to get your personal information as quickly as possible. Scammers are preying on people’s fears - especially during the pandemic. In addition to making a brazen identity claim, a scammer will often state that they need information or money immediately or you will face serious consequences. Be aware of this behavior instead of allowing it to induce stress.
If you’re already in contact with them and start displaying doubts, a scammer may even get aggressive about needing your information. This is another sign that you are dealing with a scam artist. A genuine source will never require you to reveal personal information like this.3
Red Flag #3: You Must Wire Money
Once a scammer receives money from you, their goal is to disappear with it, becoming extremely hard to track. If an entity is asking you to send money via a wire transfer or reload pack, this is likely a scam - because these payment methods are very hard to track.3 A reload pack is something that you purchase to add funds to a prepaid card.
Moreover, if someone is requiring you to send money quickly in an unorthodox fashion, they are likely a scammer.
Red Flag #4: It Doesn’t Apply
This is one of the more obvious strategies. For instance, a scammer may contact a teenager about car insurance when the teenager doesn’t even own a car in their name. Nonetheless, the frightening and urgent language of the call could get them stuck in an uncomfortable conversation with someone who is (in all likelihood) a scammer.
If somebody contacts you with an offer or issue that clearly does not apply to you, ignore the request or hang up the telephone as quickly as possible.
Red Flag #5: It’s Too Good to Be True
Unfortunately, getting a really good deal on something is often a sign that it may be a scam. A scammer will promise you something that seems far too good to be true as a way to draw you in. Even if a scammer’s website seems extremely official or a scammer approaches you in person looking very professional, this is often a ploy to gain your trust.
This is one of the easiest ways to get scammed, and it can happen in almost any area of business. Always stay wary of untrustworthy sources, and if you seem to be getting too good of a deal on insurance or even something as big as a rental property or a car, conduct more research on the identity of the source.
It’s much easier to get scammed than one would think. Make sure that you’re aware of the telltale signs of a scam and avoid allowing your fears to get the best of you in these situations. Getting scammed is a taxing and costly ordeal that nobody deserves to go through.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.