Scams That Are Easy to Fall For

July 2017

Scams are so common today that most of us think we’ve learned to identify and avoid them. Well that may be true with some of the more well-known scams, but more and more scams are becoming less obvious and better disguised, making them easier to fall for. Every day, smart, savvy people get trapped by the following scams. Take a look at these scams and how they work so you can find out how to protect yourself from them.

Facebook Giveaways

We've all seen the Facebook giveaways that offer you a chance to win "___" just for liking, sharing, commenting, or filling out a survey. Fill in that blank with many items such as high-end vehicles, tech gear, smartphones, coupons, gift cards, vouchers, tickets, or other items. Many of these giveaways are scams. Some of the more recent scam giveaways include a Range Rover, iPhone 7, outdoor play house, $75 Aldi coupon, $50 Kroger check, $75 Safeway coupon, free airline tickets from many different airlines, and free a Sharpie Marker set.

Many of these scams are setup to collect your name, address, email address, and phone numbers. The impact can vary from an increase in junk emails/phone calls/messages, to stealing your identity.

Though there are several giveaway scams on Facebook, there are some legitimate ones as well. To find out if they are real, just look for the "blue tick" that symbolizes a verified Facebook page or the official Facebook page of a trusted brand. If you can’t locate this, it’s best to not participate in the giveaway to ensure you’re protecting yourself and others.

This article, 'No Harm Done?' Think Again!, from Hoax-Slayer provides more details.

Scams That Are Easy to Fall For

  • Facebook Giveaways
  • Charity Scams
  • Tax Scams

Charity Scams

There are thousands of charities in the U.S. who solicit donations in a variety of ways, such as mail, phone call, email, social media, television, and in person. Do you check out a charity before you donate? If you don't, your donation might go to a scammer. Scammers like to use emotional appeals or take advantage of disasters in the news.

The following tips can help you be an informed donor:

  • Never give in on an impulse, even if it's just a couple of dollars.
  • Check out the charity before giving. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance, CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, and GuideStar provide resources to help you assess charitable organizations.
  • Beware of names that are similar to well-known organizations. Scammers use similar names to trick people into giving.
  • Give by check or credit card not cash.
  • Keep a record of your donation.
  • Don't provide your financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call. Never send your financial information in an email.

This article from the FTC provides a charity checklist and signs of charity scams.

Tax Scams

Tax scams occur all year round, not just during tax season. Scammers use email, letters, and phone calls to steal money, personal information and financial information. Many of these are new twists on old scams. Scammers typically demand immediate payment and may use threats and other scare tactics to demand the payment be made.

This IRS article describes current scams relating to their organization.

You can recognize these scams by knowing what the IRS does and doesn't do. The IRS:

  • Initiates most contact through a letter or notice delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Sends you a bill if you owe taxes.
  • Doesn't initiate contact through email, text, or social media.
  • Doesn't request personal or financial information that they already have.
  • Doesn't threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, arrest, or other enforcement actions.
  • Can't revoke your driver's license, business license or immigration status.
  • Won't demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Nor will they ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Won't demand that you pay without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

This article from the IRS describes how you can know it's really the IRS calling or knocking on your door.



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