We all like to believe we're invincible and impervious to a scam. Unfortunately, people all across the country are still getting scammed out of their hard-earned money every day.
This is because scammers and other con artists are constantly coming up with new malicious ways to deceive us. This means it's crucial that we all make sure we understand how these scams work. If you can recognise the signs of a scam, you'll be in a much better position to avoid it and protect your assets and identity!
While this list is in no way comprehensive, here are the four most common scams to know and avoid:
1. Dating and romance scams
- What it is: This might seem a little far-fetched, but dating and romance scams are all too prevalent. These work by the scammer first creating a fake identity online, either using social media or a dating app. The con artist will then leverage this fake profile to try and enter into a relationship with the victim, in an attempt to get their money.
- What to look out for: These types of scammers will try to ask for help with a physical injury or illness, travel costs, or a family emergency. They will also typically make excuses for being unable to meet, such as serving in the military or living in another country.
- How to protect yourself: Never give money to anyone you've only met online, even if you feel like you've established a level of trust. Also be sure to conduct a reverse image search on their pictures to make sure they're really who they claim to be.
2. Threat and penalty scams
- What it is: These types of scams revolve around the swindler calling or sending mail and emails claiming you owe money, when in fact you don't. Sometimes this will include a threat of arrest or deportation for failure to pay.
- What to look out for: Always be aware of any correspondence demanding payment, especially if it's from an unknown source. These scams typically involve unpaid speeding fines, tax debts, or overdue bills.
- How to protect yourself: Never feel pressured if someone claims you owe money. Always connect the dots and try to recall if you have any connection to the alleged missed payment or fine. Follow-up with the entity threatening you and request documentation of any claims. If the threat was made via email, don't open any documents attached to it.
3. Unexpected money scams
- What it is: You might know this as the Nigerian Prince Scam. This works by someone contacting you and informing you of money owed to you, and that you need to make an upfront payment to transfer the funds. But once you make this payment, the scammer disappears with your money.
- What to look out for: These typically involve something like a rebate or reclaim, inheritance from a long-lost relative, or just a large lump sum for absolutely no reason at all.
- How to protect yourself: As fortunate as it may seem, the chances that a large sum of money unexpectedly falls into your lap are beyond astronomical. Be extremely wary of anyone trying to give you money, especially if they need you to send them money first.
4. Computer and mobile scams
- What it is: Computer and mobile scams include the use of things like malware, which are like viruses installed on your computer; as well as keystroke loggers and spyware, which scammers use to capture everything you type and or see on your computer; or even ransomware, which either locks or encrypts your computer so that you can't use it until you pay a ransom, usually in bitcoin.
- What to look out for: These scams will use an email with a link or an attachment containing malicious software.
- How to protect yourself: Never download files, open attachments, or click links from untrustworthy websites or emails. Be sure to keep your passwords secure and regularly updated.
Feeling more protected? Use these tips to avoid signs of a scam in the future. If you feel like your financial accounts may have been compromised, pop into your local BOQ branch or contact us online straight away!