Popular Scams You May Have Already Fallen For

Popular Scams You May Have Already Fallen For

Criminals Are Still Better at Stealing Than You Are at Protecting

The old scams are still as effective as ever, but there are plenty of new ones to look out for (especially online). According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost over $488 million to imposter scams in 2018. Avoid becoming part of that statistic by learning how to avoid these popular scams.

These are some of the most popular scams you may have already fallen prey to and how to avoid them in the future.

Moving Scam

When was the last time you had a stress-free time moving to a new house? Moving scams operate best when we’re stressed out and distracted. Here are a couple of ways they’ll try to get their foot in the door.

A company will give you a great quote over the phone before coming over for the heavy lifting. Then, the scammers keep the furniture in their truck and hold it ransom at twice the price. They’ll run off with your belongings in the worst case scenarios.

They’ll give you a bunch of bogus reasons why they boosted the initial quote. Extra-heavy furniture and extra items that “you didn’t mention” are common. Some will cite “company policy” to shrink wrap everything while charging obscene amounts for each roll.

How to avoid this scam:

You’ve probably already checked your next potential moving service through bbb.org (Better Business Bureau), but it’s still worth mentioning. If you can’t find their company listed in the BBB (which is often the case for Craigslist ads and random flyers), then steer clear of them. Go with the well-reviewed companies and always trust your gut.

Some businesses will have good reviews, but maybe their movers are acting a little shady. Maybe they gave you a quote on the phone without looking at your furniture, or maybe they seemed to be looking for valuables. Regardless, be on the lookout and don’t let them give you the runaround when you ask questions or try to pin down a price. Also, take note of how they treat your furniture — if they’re treating your sofa poorly, then they’re treating you poorly, too!

Information Phishing

Popup ads and classic email scams are easy to spot — when was the last time you fell for a Nigerian prince scam? But, the real information phishing threats have become more deceptive over time.

Scammers send scary sounding emails claiming to be from your bank or online marketplace account (Amazon, eBay, etc.). “Your account will be suspended” or “confirm your email” are common titles to draw your attention. These links are bogus; the forms you’d fill out go straight to the hacker.

Another place phishing is popular is on social media. Those questionnaires your friends are posting — you know the ones, they ask for your kids’ names, your wedding date and your grandmother’s cousin’s sister’s maiden name — those can be started by scammers. If any of those questions sound familiar, they are, they are the same type of questions you’ll find as security checks on various accounts. If your friend wants to know what street you lived on in 3rd grade or your first pet’s name, invite them over for coffee and reminisce, don’t tell them on Facebook.

How to avoid this scam:

You wouldn’t just hand over your wallet to a stranger because they asked you to. You need to protect your online information with the same scrutiny and attention to detail you give to your ID card and tax documents.

Also, the only time you should ever “confirm your email” is directly after setting up an account or changing personal information. You can always report suspicious messages to the website owners or your internet service provider (ISP).

Fake Free Wi-Fi

This scam usually pops up at coffee shops, airports, trains and other public spaces. Many of these locations offer complimentary Wi-Fi for their customers. Hackers will set up a fake network for you to connect to that’s linked directly to their laptop — now they have access to your personal data.

How to avoid this scam:

Double, or even triple, check with employees to ensure you’re connected to the right network. Now you’re safe to do some light browsing but still, err on the side of caution. Avoid purchasing anything while connected to a public network. Your local coffee shop’s Wi-Fi doesn’t have the same security standards your home network does.

Work From Home Fees

Are you struggling and need to pick up a side gig to make ends meet? I’ve been there. And one way to balance it all is to look for work-from-home offers. Hey, few job offers are more tempting than the ones you can “do from the comfort of your home.” But there are scammers that thrive on this need.

Sometimes they’ll send a check for a few hundred dollars, claim it’s a mistake, and ask you to wire them the money directly from your bank. The check’s a dud, which leaves the victim short a couple hundred. Other companies ask for “activation,” “training” or “starter” fees before vanishing into thin air.

How to avoid this scam:

Employers pay YOU — not the other way around. Brush off anyone who wants you to pay for “startup” or “registration” fees. Also, as lovely as free money is, don’t play the scammer’s game with checks that’ll just bounce. Throw it in the trash and report them to the BBB.

You’ve outsmarted plenty of scammers already, and that’s an excellent accomplishment. But, it’s easy to get complacent in victory while the scams you once recognized change and evolve. Diligence and humility are truly the best defenses against fraudsters.