While the widespread use of the internet has made life easier for many people and businesses, it has also given rise to a multitude of scammers, all seeking to separate you from your hard earned cash. The ease of use and relative anonymity of the internet emboldens those who are unscrupulous and makes it harder for honest, trusting people to separate legitimate offers from those seeking to rip them off.
Most people are now aware of the ‘Nigerian Email Scam’. However, that’s just one of many scams that have been popular in recent years. There are several more that are more effective and less widely known. Here are three common scams you might not be aware of and how to avoid them….
Work from Home Scams
Every day, millions of people seek ways to increase their income; for many of them, the internet is the option of choice. But while there are legitimate ways to earn extra money from home, there are several scams masquerading as legitimate opportunities. These typically come as offers of steady income for work at home medical claims processing, online searching, international shipping, rebate processing, envelope-stuffing, or assembling crafts and other items.
These usually require you to pay a membership fee, purchase a ‘starter kit’ or other supplies with the promise that you can be your own boss and earn thousands of dollars every month from home. Legitimate home-based business offers explain everything in writing ahead of time, including what will be required of you, how much you be paid, the method by which you will be paid and who will be paying you, as well as full disclosure of any fees you must pay or supplies you must purchase. Before committing any money to a home based business offer research them online and run its name by a consumer protection agency.
Money Transfer Scams
Money transfer scams are popular and come in a variety of formats. The same reasons that money transfers are useful and convenient for legitimate purposes is also what makes them popular with scam artists. The money is received very quickly and is free or inexpensive to send. Unfortunately, it’s also impossible to stop a transfer or retrieve the funds once it is completed.
Some suspicious requests include people who insist on wire transfers for payments, online love interests requesting money, or requests from advertising rental properties online. Another version of this involves someone requesting that you deposit a check into your bank account and wire them the money back, typically with the offer that you keep an amount as a fee.
The safest way to send money for free online and protect yourself from these scams is to only deal with people you know and businesses with which you have an established relationship.
Guaranteed Credit Offers
These scams often come from third parties claiming to represent a lender and offering you a guaranteed credit card or loan as long as you pay a substantial processing fee, often hundreds of dollars.
Legitimate lenders will never ‘guarantee’ anything before receiving your application. They may state you have been pre-qualified to apply for the offer but they will clearly state that issuance of the credit will be dependent upon your application. While there may be a required application fee, they are typically no more than $50, and are never requested ahead of identifying the name of the lender.
Scammers are constantly getting more creative in their efforts with new scams being introduced practically daily. The best way to prevent from being taken advantage of is to exercise caution and good judgment, verify everything you are told, and remember the old adage, if it seems too good to be true then it probably is.