Many people laugh at scams. We see an email from a mysterious stranger. The note is full of odd phrases and terrible misspellings. We instantly share it on social media. But not all scams are so easy to spot.
Spammers get more sinister every day, and they use real-sounding email addresses, personal data, well-phrased letters, and actual corporate logos to lure their victims.
Most cons want to score fast money, but you’ll want to protect all your information from fraud, not just your credit numbers and bank accounts.
Here are some common scams and ways to defend yourself against them. You’ll want to share this know-how with your family members and friends on social media. It’s so easy to be taken by the swindlers.
- Job scam
Looking for a new job is stressful, and as the weeks turn into months, you may jump at any opportunity, no matter how dubious or grim.
Scammers know this, and they prey on desperate people. They send emails with headings like, “Your Résumé” or “Work From Home Job.” At first, these sound like exciting opportunities. Can you really make $1,200 a week sitting on your couch?
Employment scams are common, and you don’t have to be jobless to find their offers enticing. Many of their targets are the unemployed or underpaid eager for a change of pace. No matter what the location or time of year, scammers find a needy victim with bills to pay.
Mailed Check: In this scam, you apply for a job and get a response. Your potential employer mails you a check. It’ll be made out to you for $500 or so. Of course, that should be a red flag. Why would they pay you before you start working?
Reputable companies won’t do that. But scammers will call you or email you to say the mailed check was their mistake. They ask you to wire the funds back to them. If you fall for it, their bad check won’t cover the funds so that the money will come out of your bank account.
- Vacation scam
Yes, it’s possible to win a vacation, but if you don’t remember entering a contest, run an online check. If you’ve never heard of the company offering you round-trip flights and luxury resorts, be skeptical. In this case, scammers will initiate contact with you. They may call you, send you an email or post a vacation package on Facebook. Then they’ll ask for personal data, like a credit card number to “hold the reservation.”
Never give this information away unless you know for a fact that the company is legitimate. In the meantime, vacations are healthy and life-affirming, but they are best handled on your own or through a respected travel agency.
- Concert and theater scams
Similar to vacation scams, these scams start with someone contacting you, or you respond to an advertisement that you see posted online. The scammer says they’re selling tickets for a band you’ve been following for years or a hot show. They’ll excitedly tell you about the venue and the great value you’re getting.
The tickets aren’t free, but they are theoretically discounted. Once they ask you to wire money or submit credit card information, you may not even know it’s a hoax. Tickets can be easy to reproduce with the right gear. You may not know you’ve been taken until you’re turned away at the event because the tickets were fake.