Beware! 15 Common Scams That Can Steal Your Money

One of the worst things that can happen to you financially is to become the victim of a scam. Losing your money is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the issues created by scams. You also lose your sense of security since scams often mean that your personal identity has been violated. Victims of scams may also feel embarrassed because they think it’s their fault that they got scammed. The truth is that scams can happen to anyone. The good news is that you can do a lot to protect yourself. Knowing what the most common scams are can help you to avoid becoming a victim.

Here’s a look at fifteen scams that you should know about:

#1 – Advance Fee Scams

There are so many variations on this scam that it’s hard to report on them all. Basically, however, this involves a request that you make advance fee payments before receiving a product or service. For example, you might be contacted and told that you are set to receive a large sum of money but that you must pay some of the tax fees in advance. You should never pay fees in advance for something that you’re winning. Alternatively, you may be offered a great product at a discount but have to pay “fees” first.

Get more information on advance fee scams from the following links:

  • 86-year-old woman becomes victim of advance fee scam
  • Pensioners scammed out of millions in advance fee scam
  • Work-at-home advance fee scams
  • How to properly spot an advance fee scam

#2 – Checks for Overpayment

This is a fairly simple scam in which a person sends you a check for something that you’ve advertised, but the check is for larger than the amount that you requested. They want you to send the difference back to them. The problem is that the check that they sent you is going to bounce and you’re going to lose out on whatever amount of money you send them (plus you might have to pay a bounced check fee). This scam may target people who are renting out a room in their house or selling a product online.

Get more information on overpayment scams from the following links:

  • FTC Warns of check overpayment scam
  • Babysitter’s ad results in overpayment scam
  • Be suspicious about wiring money back after cashing a check

#3 – Coupon Fraud

If you find coupons online and then print them to save money in stores then you may end up becoming involved in a coupon fraud scam. There are a lot of people who are manipulating the bar codes on coupons and then uploading them for others to download from the Internet. When the coupons are cashed in, the money goes to the scammer. You probably won’t lose any money this way but the manufacturers end up losing a lot, which ultimately results in raising prices for everyone.

Get more information about coupon fraud scams from the following links:

  • How promo codes and mobile coupons help combat coupon fraud
  • Huge coupon scam suspected
  • Spamlaws information about coupon fraud
  • Coupon scams a multi-million dollar crime
  • Massive coupon fraud cases cost manufacturer millions

#4 – Emails from the IRS

Everyone gets a little bit scared if they’re contacted by the IRS. After all, this usually means that the government believes you’ve been cheating on your taxes. Scammers prey on this fear by sending out phishing emails that make it look as though the IRS is contacting you for information. These emails request your personal financial information and then use that information to steal your identity. The IRS never sends out unsolicited emails as a way of contacting you, so don’t respond to emails that claim they’re from the IRS. Similar scams involve emails from your bank or your credit card company.

Get more information about IRS email scams from the following links:

  • IRS warnings about tax scams
  • U.S. bank email scam
  • Don’t respond to IRS email scam
  • IRS warns of new email scam

#5 – Foreclosure Scams

If you’re having trouble making house payments then you may find yourself tempted to become a victim of a foreclosure scam. There are several variations on this one, but basically it involves someone contacting you about a possible home foreclosure and offering to help you out. Instead of helping you, they take your money.

Get more information about foreclosure scams from the following links:

  • Top 3 foreclosure scams
  • Avoiding foreclosure scams
  • Mortgage foreclosure rescue scams

#6 – Home Reappraisal Scams

What would you say if someone called you up and told you that they needed access to your home to do an audit for home reappraisal? Many people are saying “okay” in the hopes that the reappraisal will lead to saving money on their mortgages. However, this is a scam. The “auditor” comes into the home when no one is there and may steal items or information from the house. Never let people into your home unattended even if they present themselves as professionals.

Get more information about home reappraisal scams from the following links:

  • Auditor warns about home reappraisal scams
  • How appraisal fraud is costing you money
  • Be wary of potential reappraisal scam

#7 – Inheritance / Lottery Scams

There are a lot of scams out there designed to prey on your desire to win big sums of money. After all, most of us have a bit of unrealistic hope that someday we’ll win the lottery or get a huge inheritance from a long lost relative. Emails suggesting that our big pay day has finally come are almost always scams. They either ask for payment to process the winnings or they offer to send you an overpayment check to cash (and then the check bounces and you’re out whatever money you sent them for overpayment).

Get more information about inheritance / lottery scams from the following links:

  • Phony inheritance scams fraud information
  • False promises of inheritance – email scam fraud
  • Inheritance scam victim warns others
  • How the lottery winning scam works when check is enclosed
  • Fraud victim advocacy: lottery scams

#8 – Money Request from “Friends”

If you receive an email or social networking message from a friend of yours and it’s asking you for money, then you might be about to be scammed. Scammers are now stealing personal email accounts and contacting friends saying that they’re in an emergency and need some cash. Most people want to help their friends so they don’t think twice about wiring the money that’s been requested. You should think twice. Ask yourself if the friend would really contact you, if the email sounds legitimate, and if there’s a way to confirm that the request is real before you send your money to someone that you think you know.

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Get more information about money request scams from the following links:

  • New email scam hits Santa Clarita
  • Scam alert: false friends on Facebook
  • Beware of email scam offering to rescue friends

#9 – Mystery Shopper Scams

This scam preys upon people who want to earn extra money by working as a mystery shopper. They receive a check that they are supposed to deposit and use for doing their shopping. Then some of the check is supposed to be sent somewhere else as a “processing fee.” The problem is that the original check is fake, so the money spent shopping is your own money, the processing fee is your own money, and the bounced check fees are left for you to pay. There are other job offer scams that operate the same way, but the most common one is the mystery shopper scam.

Get more information about mystery shopper scams from the following links:

  • Mystery shopping scam targets Work-at-Home Moms
  • Don’t fall for this mystery shopper scam
  • Savvy student recognizes mystery shopper scam
  • 3 tips to avoid mystery shopping scams

#10 – Nigerian Letter Fraud

This can take several forms, but usually you receive a letter or email from someone who is reportedly trying to transfer large sums of money out of Africa. They ask you to assist them with this transaction for a percentage of the profits. This requires you to send them your personal financial information which results in the theft of your identity. It is astounding that anyone is still becoming a victim of this type of fraud since it’s so well-known, but there are still people out there who are getting scammed this way.

Get more information about Nigerian letter fraud from the following links:

  • Crimes of persuasion: Nigerian scams
  • Nigerian fraud letter scam samples
  • The Nigerian letter fraud scheme
  • Tips for Avoiding Nigerian scams

#11 – Pet Scams

How sad is it to think that you’re about to get a new puppy and find out that you’re just getting scammed? That’s been the case for a lot of victims who answer an online ad for a puppy and end up paying for a puppy they never receive or a puppy that is ill or dying. There are also versions of other scams that involve pets (including overpayment scams and even Nigerian puppy scams!)

Get more information about pet scams from the following links:

  • 7 top pet scams that cost money and animals’ lives
  • 5 pet scams to avoid
  • Pet scam stories from the ASPCA
  • Different types of pet scams
  • Advance fee scam exploits puppies

#12 – Phone Scams / Robocalls

This is your basic scam that gets recycled again and again by scammers. They call your phone number and do something to get you to give them your private financial information. They may offer you a product for sale and take your credit card information for the (fake) purchase. Alternatively, they may tell you that they’re calling from your bank or credit card company to confirm some details of your account. In recent years, these have come to be called “robocalls” because the calls are made automatically through a robotic service that keeps dialing you back again and again. Successfully avoid this scam by never giving your financial information to someone who has called you.

Get more information about phone scams / robocalls from the following links:

  • Behind a massive robocall scam
  • Verizon battles car warranty scam callers
  • Big robocall scam shut down
  • Tips to avoid telemarketing fraud

#13 – Rents Too Low to Be True

A common problem that is cropping up is the theft of rental home ads online. Scammers take real rentals that are available and re-advertise them at a much lower cost. They then steal money or information from the people who respond to the ad. Either they ask for financial information to get approved for the rental (and then use it to steal the person’s identity) or they ask for a payment up front for a property that they aren’t actually allowed to rent out. If a rental price looks too low to be true, then there’s a good chance that it’s a scam.

Get more information about low rental price scams from the following links:

  • Rental scams commandeer real ads from Internet
  • Craigslist home rental scam investigated
  • scam alert
  • Latest Internet scam: homes for rent

#14 – Theft of your Twitter Account

One of the most recent scams to make headlines was a Twitter theft scam. A series of Tweets were circulated which led people to a fake blog which looks like the original Twitter page. People who signed in here had their Twitter identities stolen and then their accounts were used to further spread the link. No monetary value was stolen from victims of this scam, but it points to the fact that Twitter users should be careful when signing into their accounts. Social networking sites are likely to be a key area for the development of new scams in the years to come due to their wide-ranging popularity.

Get more information on Twitter scams from the following links:

  • Twitter gains upper hand on latest scam
  • Tips for avoiding Twitter scams
  • Phishing scam spreading on Twitter
  • A Tweeter’s guide to Twitter scams

#15 – Threats for Ransom

There is a really frightening scam happening now in which scammers issue threats of violence against individuals if they won’t pay them. In some cases, the threat is a direct threat to kill the individual if money isn’t paid. In other cases, the victim is contacted by someone claiming to have kidnapped a loved one and seeking payment for the individual’s release. These scams may happen via phone call, email, or even text message. This one is typically happening in foreign countries (particularly in Asia), but it could be a problem anywhere. To avoid becoming a victim of this scam, you should contact police immediately if you receive any threats.

Get more information about threat scams from the following links:

  • I almost fell prey to a kidnapping scam
  • Mobile phone users targeted by fake hitman
  • Ransom scam moves to webmail
  • Child kidnap scam

-Kathryn Vercillo

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