10 Scams You Should Be Aware Of

When it comes to your personal and financial information, it’s important to be aware of fraudulent schemes looking to obtain this private data. Check out our list of 10 scams you should be aware of and red flags to be mindful of.

  1. Government “Imposter” Frauds These schemes often start with a phone call, letter, email, text message, or fax supposedly from a government agency, requiring an upfront payment or personal financial information, such as Social Security or bank account numbers. Remember, federal government agencies won’t ask you to send money for prizes or unpaid loans, and they won’t ask you to wire money to pay for anything.
  2. Debt Collection Scams Be on the lookout for fraudsters posing as debt collectors or law enforcement officials attempting to collect a debt that you don’t really owe. Red flags include a caller who won’t provide written proof of debt or who threatens you with arrest or violence for not paying.
  3. Fraudulent Job Offers Criminals pose online or in classified advertisements as employers or recruiters offering enticing opportunities, such as working from home. But if you’re required to pay money in advance to “help secure the job,” or you must provide a great deal of personal financial information for a “background check,” those are red flags of a potential fraud.
  4. “Phishing” Emails Scam artists send emails pretending to be from banks, popular merchants, or other known entities, and they ask for personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other valuable details. The emails usually look legitimate because they include graphics copied from authentic websites and messages that appear valid.
  5. Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue Scams Today, many homeowners who are struggling financially and risk losing their homes may be vulnerable to false promises to refinance a mortgage under better terms or rates. Mortgage foreclosure rescue scammers will present homeowners with what sounds like the life-saving offer they need. Instead, the homeowner is required to pay significant upfront fees or, even worse, tricked into signing documents that, in the fine print, transfer the ownership of the property to the criminal involved. Common warning signs of fraudulent mortgage assistance offers include a “guarantee,” that foreclosure will be avoided and pressure to act fast.
  6. Lottery Scams You might be told you won a lottery (typically one that you never entered) and asked to first send money to the “lottery company,” to cover certain taxes and fees. Similar examples involve bogus prize winnings and sweepstakes.
  7. Elder Frauds Thieves sometimes target older adults to try to cheat them out of some of their life savings. For example, telemarketing scams may involve sales of fake products and services that will never be delivered. Warning signs include unsolicited phone calls asking for a large amount of money before receiving the goods or services, and special offers for senior citizens that seem too good to be true, like an investment “guaranteeing,” a very high return.
  8. Overpayment Scams This popular scam starts when a stranger sends a consumer or a business check for something, such as an item being sold on the Internet, but the check is for far more than the agreed-upon sales price. The scammer then tells the consumer to deposit the check and wire the difference to someone else who is supposedly owed money by the same check write. In a few days, the check is discovered to be a counterfeit, and the depositor may be held responsible for any money wired out of the bank account.
  9. “Ransomware” This term refers to malicious software that holds a computer, smartphone, or other device hostage by restricting access until a ransom is paid. The most common way ransomware and other malicious software spreads is when someone clicks on an infected email attachment or a link in an email that leads to a contaminated file or website. Malware also can spread across a network of linked computers or be passed around on a contaminated storage device, such as a thumb drive.
  10. Jury Duty Scams A thief makes phone calls pretending to be a law enforcement official warning innocent people that they failed to appear for jury duty and threatening an arrest unless a “fine,” is paid immediately. And to pay up, the caller asks for debit account and PIN numbers, allowing the perpetrator to create a fake debit card and drain the account.