4 Scams You'll Want to Avoid

Scam artists are always on the prowl either creating a fake emergency, luring you with something too good to be true, or tugging at your heartstrings. 

Awareness is the key.  Understanding the different scam tactics will help you become more discerning if you come across one.  Here are a few common scams to be on the lookout for.

  1. The Grandparents Scam.  “Your grandson will be arrested unless you wire the bail money now.”  A scam artist will call and either pose as a police officer, attorney, or debt collector and tell the victim that their friend or loved one is in trouble.  Sometimes the scam artist will research the grandchild on the internet and social media to find personal information that they can use to impersonate the grandchild over the phone.  Scam artists will often target older adults, but this scam can happen to anyone.
    Tip: Call the family member or friend that you can trust to verify the emergency.
  2. Online Dating Scam. Love at first click? Signs of a scam include when that potential love interest insists on moving your conversation away from the dating website to chat, text message or through phone calls right away and then immediately deletes their dating profile. The scam artist will usually rush the victim into a serious relationship then have a sudden need for money.   
    Tip: Dating online profiles dressed up with fake profile pictures is a red flag.  Upload the questionable profile picture into a reverse image search engine to look for related images and see if that profile picture is found somewhere else. 
  3. Check Overpayment Scam.  Seller beware! A scam artist pretending to be an interested buyer will reach out to the victim about their classified ad or an item they posted in an online auction.  The scam artist would send a check for more than what they owe – on accident – and then request the victim to refund the difference back through a wire transfer.  In other incidents, the scam artist will conjure a reason to cut the check for more than the purchase price and then asks the victim to wire back the difference. It takes days for a check to clear and weeks to discover a check is fake, so in both types of incidents, the check bounces after the victim wires back the money.
    Tip: Never accept a check for more than your purchase price and suggest using a reputable online payment service instead, to the buyer. 
  4. Tech Support Scam.  Did you receive an unsolicited call about a computer virus from someone claiming to be from Tech Support?  These scam artists will pose as a technician from a reputable company and research your name and personal information from a public phone directory.  They will claim that your computer has malware or needs a software license renewal as means of tricking the victim into granting them remote access to your computer, installing malware, or entering credit card information to purchase bogus computer software.  
    Tip: Hang up if you receive an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be from tech support.  If the caller pressures you to purchase their software or charges a subscription fee, then this is probably a scam.

Any of these scams sound familiar?  Never wire money to someone you do not know.  Your financial institution may have great resources to help protect your personal information, but they are not responsible for recovering lost funds if the victim authorized the transaction (even if they were tricked into doing it).  If you encounter fraudulent activity, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  By recording your incident, the FTC can use consumer complaints to detect patterns of these scams to further their investigation.  Click to report your complaint: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

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