Despite advancements in technology and cybersecurity, scams continue to pose a significant risk to consumers. In this era of information overload, it’s startling to see the various absurd scams working. Here are 18 scams you should watch out for.
“Your Computer Has a Virus” Scam
This scam often starts with a pop-up warning on your computer screen, claiming your system is infected. While the message appears urgent, complying usually leads to software downloads that are malware in disguise. Always double-check such warnings with your antivirus software.
Fake Job Offers
Scammers often send unsolicited job offers via email, targeting job seekers with too-good-to-be-true positions that require an upfront “training” fee. Beware, as paying this fee often leaves you jobless and poorer.
Phony Tax Collectors
People posing as IRS agents insist that you owe back taxes and must pay immediately, often through unconventional methods like gift cards. Always remember the IRS will never demand immediate payment over the phone.
Social Media Quizzes
These seemingly harmless quizzes that ask for your favorite color or birth month can be data-mining traps. While they may tell you your spirit animal or dream job, the data collected is often used for identity theft or sold to third parties. Exercise caution about what personal information you share online, especially in seemingly innocuous quiz forms.
You receive an email or phone call claiming you’ve won a lottery you never entered. The catch? You need to pay a fee to collect your winnings. Always remember legitimate lotteries never ask for money upfront.
Emergency Family Assistance
A call or email arrives, usually late at night, from someone claiming to be a relative in immediate danger. They insist that they need money wired quickly for an emergency. This is often so well-executed that it seems legitimate. Always verify such urgent requests by contacting your family members through known, verified contacts to confirm the situation.
These scams often start on dating sites, where a person you’ve never met professes love quickly and then has a financial “emergency” that only you can resolve. Be wary of online relationships that move too fast and involve money.
Scammers often take advantage of people’s generosity, especially after natural disasters or during holidays, by posing as charity organizations. These faux charities often have names similar to well-known organizations. Always validate a charity’s legitimacy through third-party sources like Charity Navigator before donating.
Used Car Scams
Scammers post fake listings for used cars at incredibly low prices. Once you pay, the vehicle doesn’t exist or is in far worse condition than advertised. Always see a car and its papers before making any payment.
Home Repair Scams
Bogus contractors offer to fix a visible home issue for a low price, then either vanish after taking a deposit or perform shoddy work that necessitates more repairs. Always check credentials and get multiple estimates before hiring.
Tech Support Scams
Here, scammers pose as tech support agents for legitimate companies, guiding you into installing malicious software that steals data. Always contact tech support through official channels.
Fake landlords advertise properties they don’t actually own on rental sites, even providing compelling images and descriptions. After you pay the deposit, they suddenly become unresponsive or vanish entirely. Always meet the landlord in person, inspect the property, and verify property ownership through public records before making rental agreements or payments.
“Free” Trial Scams
These scams often offer promising free product trials, requiring a credit card for “minimal shipping fees.” What’s not evident is that they’ll start charging you a full subscription fee after the trial period, which is hidden in the fine print. Always read the terms and conditions carefully and check for reviews of any free offer before giving your card details.
Advanced Fee Fraud
You receive an unsolicited email or message claiming that you’ve inherited a significant fortune from a distant relative or won an international lottery. However, to unlock this “fortune,” you must first pay legal fees or taxes upfront. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
These emails look like they’re from trusted sources and prompt you to share sensitive information like passwords. Always double-check the email address and contact the organization directly to confirm.
Gift Card Scams
In this scam, fraudsters pose as tax authorities, utility companies, or even tech support, asking you to make payment for services via gift cards. They then sell these gift cards or redeem them. No legitimate service will ever request payment in gift cards; always be suspicious of such requests.
Bogus Investment Schemes
These scams lure potential investors with promises of high returns with zero risk, typically claiming insider information or a revolutionary business model. Investors are usually drawn into Ponzi schemes or fraudulent investment opportunities that guarantee profits but deliver nothing. Always conduct thorough research and consult with financial advisors before making any investment.
Extended Car Warranties
You receive a call or mailer warning you that your car’s warranty is about to expire. The sense of urgency is palpable, and they push for immediate action. Before committing, always verify such claims with your car’s dealer or manufacturer. These offers are often from third-party companies not affiliated with any recognized brand.
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