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1. Social Security Scams

Using robocalls or cold calls, the victim is advised to call the Social Security Administration immediately. They are advised that their social security number is involved in suspicious activity and will be suspended unless the victim pays a fine/fee.

Social security scammers may suggest the victim is a subject of a criminal investigation. By paying the fee, the scammer can straighten out everything. Of course, the fee needs to be paid by Money Gram, prepaid debit card, Bitcoin, or other irreversible payment methods. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

2. IRS Scams

A variation of the Social Security scam. Here, the scammer represents himself as an IRS agent advising the victim that they have seriously delinquent unpaid taxes.

Threats of an immediate levy on your bank account or even arrest are made unless an immediate payment is received via wire transfer.

Of course, there is no past due taxes, but America’s fear of the IRS causes many to pay a little to avoid a larger financial loss or criminal action. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

3. Debt Collection Scams

Collection calls are never pleasant experiences but a call from a scammer can be downright frightening. Claiming you have a seriously past due balance, the scammer will say he represents an attorney and is ready to file legal action to get a judgment against you.

They’ll use common credit card names like Visa and Capital one which nearly everyone has or had in the past to lend legitimacy to the claim. They will call you names and try to shame you into paying the debt.

Like all scams, payment needs to be by prepaid methods that give the scammer immediate access to the cash and anonymity. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

4. Lottery Scams

According to the FBI, the Jamaica Mega Millions lottery scam is one of the oldest and widespread scams on record. The victim is notified by phone or email that they have won a foreign lottery and all they have to do is pay a fee for foreign taxes, duty, or some other official-sounding fee to collect their winnings.

Often, they will want your bank account info and social security number as well. This scam costs you the “fee” and sets you up for identity theft. Also, it’s illegal for an American to participate in a foreign lottery! Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

5. Car Wrap Advertising Scams

You’ve seen them on the streets. Private cars, vans, and SUVs with advertising on their sides. There are legitimate car wrap advertising opportunities but the number of scammers far outnumber them.

They advertise jobs on job boards and social media offering to pay for simply driving to and from work with advertising on your car.

They pay in advance. They’ll send you a check for your first month plus a couple of thousand more to pay the car wrap specialist they have chosen. You deposit the check and then send your own check to the car wrap shop, who is actually the scammer’s accomplice.

In a few days, the original check bounces and you are out the amount you sent to the car wrap shop. This is an old check fraud scheme with a new twist. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

6. Apartment or House Rental Scams

Finding a new rental apartment or house is never easy. Imagine you find an ad for a place that has everything you want, is in the right neighborhood, and a dynamite monthly rental cost.

You apply and learn that you can’t see the inside because the owner is out of town.

The low price is explained as a way to find the right “caretaker” for the place because the owner plans to return to it in a couple of years. There may or may not be a lease. There is most definitely a deposit required.

You send the deposit in exchange for the owner sending the keys. The keys never come. The “owner” doesn’t own the home. It was plucked off a real estate site and fraudulently posted on CraigsList or other online boards as a rental property.

7. Online Dating Scams

Everybody needs somebody and many turn to online dating sites to find that one and only. Scammers prowl those sites looking to enter into profitable relationships.

When someone contacts you, rather quickly falls in love, claims to be temporarily outside of your area. Deployed in the military, working for a humanitarian group overseas, or working on an oil rig – it’s a scam. Do not fall for it!

They are after your money and will hit you up for travel expenses, tax duty on a gift, made up hospital bills or other reasons. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

8. Grandparents Scams

You’d think this would be hard to pull off but it happens thousands of times per year. Thanks to social media it’s easy to track family connections.

Once a scammer has selected a grandkid grandparent pairing, the grandparent will be contacted by phone or email saying the kid needs emergency money now for bail, airfare, medical bill, or some other urgent issue.

The money needs to be wired now! Some scammers will even impersonate the grandkid and plead directly to the grandparent.

9. Technical Support Scams

Technical support scammers want to sell you service to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. They use a number of ways to contact marks including cold calling, pop-up windows on your computer, and search ads and listings.

Often using logos from trusted brands in their pitch, the scammers will require prepayment via re-loadable money cards, wire, or gift cards. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

10. Pets for Sale Scams

Another heartless scam aimed at animal lovers looking for free or cheap pets on the internet. The scammer will post an adorable photo of a pet and offer it for free. Further, they will say the only reason they are giving it away is that it belonged to their recently deceased child.

With the hook set, they will then demand funds for air transportation and equipment and insurance required by the airline. Once the money is received (by wire or other prepaid methods) the scammer disappears. There never was a pet, just a greedy con artist. Read the full article here.

11. Counterfeit Merchandise Scams

Knockoffs have been around as long as there have been successful brands. There are a host of things that you can do to determine if an item is the real Mccoy but that assumes you actually have an opportunity to touch and see the item.

Today we shop on platforms like Shopify and Craigslist where you might see an image of the item, a familiar logo, and an amazingly discounted price. Apparel, shoes, and electronics are favorite bait and may be advertised as overstock or out of season specials.

You buy it and you get a shoddy fake. These sites often have no contact info or restocking charges that are nearly as much as you paid in the first place. You need to be able to spot these fakes before your desire for a great deal overcomes your common sense. Learn how to recognize fake online stores in 5 steps.

12. Grant Scams

Free money from the government? That should be enough to alert you to a scam all by itself. But the FTC reports thousands of Americans fall for the “fake grant” scam every year.

This breed of scammer uses advertising in local papers, national magazines, and even hacked social media accounts of friends and family members announcing special government grants for almost anything.

Home improvements, small business, education, house down payment, even for simply paying your income tax on time are all available through “government grants.” All you have to do is pay a fee for processing and the free government money will be on its way shortly.

Of course, there will be no grant money and the scammer will disappear with your “processing fee.” Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

13. Fake Check Scams

The fake check scam is a method used in many scams. It involves receiving a check from the scammer, depositing it in your account, and then sending part of it to a third party (via your personal check).

The scammer’s check will eventually bounce, and the bank will look to you to make it good. The fake check scam, or check fraud, is at the heart of several scams notably the secret shopper, car wrap scam, and personal assistant (employment) scam. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

14. Employment Scams

Being out of work is always stressful and in these uncertain pandemic times, people will grab at any work at home opportunities. Scammers will post jobs on legitimate employment sites as well as social media listings like Craigslist advertising lucrative stay at home positions, The scam takes on several forms.

The scammer may represent himself as an agency and require a fee for arranging the interview with the fictional company. They may even guarantee you’ll be employed. Or, they may ask for your checking account bank information to set up a “direct deposit” of your paycheck once you are hired.

For personal assistants, the scammer will represent himself as the employer and send you a check for your pay plus a much larger amount.

You will be instructed to purchase prepaid gift cards and provide the PIN numbers to the “employer.” The check you receive will bounce and you will be out the price of purchasing the cards. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

15. Re-Shipping Job Scams

This one could send you to jail for participating in criminal activity. In this scheme, the scammer advertises for a work at home shipping agent who will receive packages at their home and then ship them overseas.

The packages they get will come from legitimate sources but paid for with stolen credit card accounts. Another scenario calls for a “procurement specialist” who will receive access to the “employer’s” bank account to reimburse the victim for the supplies he or she buys and has shipped to the employer. Of course access will be denied and the victim will be ought what he spent on the goods. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

16. Binary Options Trading Scams

The FBI calls binary options tracing scams one of the most difficult to track and prosecute because of its international spread and the financial sophistication of the scammers. They advertise high returns, low risk, and outstanding customer service.

In reality, these trading platforms are not regulated and are designed to rig the transaction against the investor. Options trading is risky to start with but trading on unregulated platforms is seriously asking for trouble.

17. Cryptocurrency Exchange Scams

Cryptocurrency represents the Brave New World of currency trading. If you don’t understand it, don’t be tempted by the stories of remarkable gains. The currency is traded in exchanges and the scammers who run fake exchanges simply want you to transfer your Bitcoin from your wallet to theirs.

They promise great opportunities and low risk but now that your cryptocurrency investment is in their wallet, the transaction is irreversible and untraceable. You need to be able to spot the telltale signs of these fraudsters before you invest a dime.

18. Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

Obama Student Loan Forgiveness programs don’t exist despite that lead headline in many student loan forgiveness ads. There are two legitimate government-sponsored student loan assistance programs and very few people qualify for them.

That doesn’t stop scammers from charging fees to assist victims qualifying for nonexistent programs. Money spent on help getting student loans forgiven is money down the drain. You need to spot the scam before you fall for the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness program.

19. Mystery Shopping Scams

Mystery shoppers are used by some retailers to evaluate the operation in a specific department. The shopper makes a purchase and then reports on the transaction. Typically the shopper gets to keep whatever the purchased item was and get a small fee as well.

There are legitimate mystery shopper opportunities but there are far more scammers. Scammers run ads for mystery shoppers on job boards and social media. Most pitch the idea of registering with their agency to get the job. There is a fee however, for certification training and registration.

The training is worthless and no jobs ever appear. Another version involves hiring the shopper and having them check out a store’s money transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram.

The scammer sends a check to be deposited in the shopper’s account and then the shopper uses his or her account to send the wire to a third party (scammer). The original check then bounces and the bank wants their money back. Read the full article here.

Identity theft risk: High
How scams lead to identity theft
Can I get my money back from scammers?

20. Fake Online Stores

When it comes to e-commerce, the internet is still the Wild, Wild West. E-commerce sites pop up overnight and appear on Shopify and other platforms.

The scammers offer dirt cheap discounts on brand name merchandise. Some sites are “original” many mimic known trusted sites using similar URLs and graphics.

Some will actually sell you product but when you get it you’ll discover you bought cheap, shoddy, knockoffs that weren’t worth the price. Others will take your payment and disappear. Either way, you are out of money. Learn how to spot these scammers and prevent personal loss. Learn how to recognize fake online stores in 5 steps.

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FAQ

Fraudulent websites can be easily spotted by looking out for these 5 red flags. Learn about them by visiting the following this link: How to tell if the website is a scam in 5 steps.

Absolutely! Not only you should report the scammers to the FTC and IC3, but you may also want to expose them online. Websites such as SCAMGUARD™ allow victims of fraud to tell their stories and warn the public of fraudulent schemes.

Yes. If scammers are in possession of your personal information, they can use that to steal your identity. For more on this subject, please read: How scams lead to identity theft.

There are various ways in which scammers gain access to your personal information. One such way is by purchasing consumer data on the darknet. When a website is hacked, which happens quite often, hackers steal databases containing personal information and sell that to the highest bidder. This information is then used to steal identities, ruining lives in the process. For more on this subject, follow this link: How scams lead to identity theft.

It depends on the method of payment. For more on this subject, please read: How to recover your money if you’ve been scammed.

Most scam artists reside outside of the US and use threats to exact more money from their victims. Nevertheless, all threats should be taken seriously, especially if scammers have your name and address.

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