Unless you’ve been stuck on a desert island for the last 15 or 20 years, you’ve probably heard about the Nigerian prince email scam and probably have had a laugh or two about it with friends and family. The fact is however, some of those friends and family are still falling for this “pay me now, get millions later” scam that, if the Boston Globe is to be believed, has been around for over 200 years.
Of course most new scams today are a bit more cleverly disguised than this one, because let’s face it that makes them more effective, but it seems that even the oldest and most obvious of scams are still being used with, unfortunately, great success. Today’s blog will update you on four of the top scams that have been around for ages and should definitely be avoided like the plague. Enjoy.
The first is what’s known as the “grandparent scam”. The fact is, most scams work because they take advantage of people’s emotions including desperation, fear, greed and concern. With the elderly, concern for a family member is combined with confusion about the facts, something that makes it much easier to scam grandma and grandpa. Most of these scams involve making a call to an elderly person’s home and claiming to be a child or grandchild in trouble and needing money fast. This particularly cruel yet quite effective scam relies on the fact that the average grandparent will do anything for their children and grandchildren.
The “IRS phone call” scam is second on our list and typically involves a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative of the IRS and demanding a payment immediately, using the threat of police involvement and jail time to get the listener’s attention. If you receive a phone call like this you should definitely hang up right away and never share any important information with anyone claiming to be from the IRS unless you have made the call to their direct number yourself. You can also go to IRS.gov to look up contact information if you do have issues with your taxes, and always keep in mind that if you get an email claiming to be from the IRS it’s not from the IRS because they don’t send emails.
In third place on our list of top scams is the “Disaster scam”. This scam usually comes in two flavors, the “fake charity” scam and the “click trap” scam, both of which usually begin in the wake of a disaster like a tornado, hurricane, flood or fire. These scams take advantage of the average person’s propensity to give willingly to help victims of these disasters who, unfortunately, then become victims themselves. The fact is, if you’re keen on donating to an organization or charity that has been erected in the wake of a disaster, you should research it first to make sure that it’s legitimate because, unfortunately, there are plenty of fake organizations out there that will take your money in a heartbeat and donate it to their favorite charity, themselves.
Keep in mind that sometimes these “disasters” can also be things like the recent release of nude photographs of celebrities online.
Last on our list is the “Debt collection” scam. Like most other scams, this one starts when the victim gets a phone call from a fake debt collector. Since most people hate dealing with debt collectors to begin with, dealing with fraudulent scammers who, in most cases, are using threatening and relentless language, can be even more stressful. The fact is, even real debt collectors can sometimes be as unpleasant to deal with as fake ones but, no matter who’s on the phone, keep in mind that you’re entitled to written confirmation about any debt that you might have. If the caller refuses to provide that, the chances that you’re dealing with a fraudulent debt collector become much higher.
Hopefully this information will allow you to avoid these scams in the future, and your families and friends as well. In fact, sending a link to this blog to all of your contacts might be one of the best emails that they get today.