Information is power, as they say. And in the world of finance, understanding what and who to avoid can save consumers a whole lot of time, trouble and money. Unfortunately, there are many nefarious forces online looking for ways to make a dishonest buck off of vulnerable people, the elderly, and well-intentioned folks who get sucked into their scams.
You’ve likely heard once or twice never to give sensitive or personal information to anyone, over the phone or online, who you don’t know. Even if you think you have all your bases covered, it never hurts to know what scam artists are up to – and the latest tricks to avoid.
Common Scams to Know About & Avoid
A scam is any type of fraud that attempts to get people to fork over their hard-earned dollars – or personal information – under false pretenses. The internet has only given these fraudsters more ways to trick people. Oftentimes, they will try to convince an individual to send money to someone posing as someone they are not. You may be asked to wire money or use an online payment service so they can fraudulently obtain your money.
Here are some of the most common types of fraud to look out for:
Fake Prizes. This is one of the oldest in the book. Americans were swindled out of $227 million due to fake sweepstakes, prize and lottery scams in 2020, according to a recent report.
Usually, the victim is told that they have won some form of prize money and that they must send money to cover the taxes or fees on the winnings. If you receive a check for part of the winnings, be careful. Often, once your money is sent the check will bounce. Look out for these scam artists.
Relationship Scams. Sadly, many of us are suckers when it comes to love. Romance scammers were up almost 80 percent compared to 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission, and these types of scams have cost victims $1.3 billion in just five years. This typically happens when victims are led falsely to believe that they have a romantic relationship with someone they met online. If someone on social media who you’ve never met starts referring to you as their fiancé, boyfriend or girlfriend, swipe left!
Financial Services Such as Advanced Fees & Prepayments. The victim is asked to pay upfront fees for financial services that they don’t end up receiving. Be wary of sending transactions for payment of any questionable upfront fees. Examples might include ones for credit cards, grants, loans, an inheritance or investments.
Fake Emergencies. These are some of the worst scoundrels of all, as they prey on the generosity of strangers. In these cases, people are lured into sending funds to assist who they believe is a friend or family member in distress. If someone you know contacts you through social media or online describing an urgent situation that requires a money transfer to be sent immediately, always double check. These types of messages should be treated with suspicion. Always verify the identity of the person making such a request through other means, preferably the phone or in person, before sending a dime.
Anti-Virus Scams. Finally, beware of phone calls, emails and messages on social media from anyone claiming a virus has been detected on your computer. Often these messages come from well-known computer or software companies. Be suspicious of anyone you’ve never met offering to remove a “virus” from your computer for a small fee (often by credit card or a money transfer). Chances are there is no virus.
If you are concerned about viruses or other software problems, you’re better off bringing your device to a reputable service that can check it out in person.
Chicago’s South Suburban Auto & Financial Services (SSCE)
There will always be people attempting to take advantage of others financially. But there are many ways to protect yourself financially, starting with the use of services that are established and trusted. Chicago’s South Suburban Community Exchanges (SSCEs) is an established neighborhood provider of common financial and auto-related services. And there are many different services, all provided conveniently under one roof. To name just a few:
- Electronic Bill Payment
- Check Cashing
- Prepaid Debit Card
- Auto Title & Registration
We’re here to serve you and help you achieve your financial dreams – safely – with an array of services. Find your nearest location or check out our other services online to find out what else we can do for you and your family.