As tax season winds down and the last waves of taxpayers file their tax returns, there’ll inevitably be some upset people. After all, tax fraud is always a concern, especially when people wait to file their taxes.
Unfortunately, tax fraud is just one type of financial scams that affects people each year. In fact, according to Experian, someone in the U.S. falls victim to a scam every 11 minutes!
Here are five financial scams to know so you can protect yourself better going forward.
One of the most popular scams people fall victim to is imposter scams. Imposter scams can take many shapes and forms but share the tactic of scammers pretending to be someone to trick a person into paying money.
The IRS phone scam is one recent example of an imposter scam, in which scammers pretended to be government agents threatening to arrest people for tax evasion if they didn’t pay a certain total. Other examples include census scams, which target social security numbers and other sensitive personal information. Then there are tech support scams, which typically target the elderly through email, phone calls, or pop-up ads offering some form of security or technical support.
Per CNBC, one in five people who reported an imposter scam in 2017 fell victim to one, losing a median of $500 each. These are just a few examples, however. Be wary of unsolicited contact from any organization or person, even those who claim to be someone you know.
It’s shockingly common to be in debt in America, and I don’t just mean mortgages Bad debt, such as credit cards. is rampant—and scammers are taking full advantage. While Freedom Debt Relief reviews and debtor accounts of other services illustrate that debt-assistance services are very much legitimate, there’s also no shortage of “firms” preying on debtors’ emotions to make a quick buck. For debt collection scams, it’s a red flag if the collector won’t provide detailed information about your alleged debt or the agency they represent. It’s equally troubling if they become aggressive, ask for payment over the phone, or ask for sensitive information.
To spot a malicious debt relief ploy, understand that a reputable company will never make you pay any money upfront or guarantee that your debts will be forgiven.
Who doesn’t like a restful vacation, especially when there’s a good deal to be had? This is precisely the thinking of con artists that leverage luxury vacations and other packages to get victims to surrender their trust and money.
Like any other type of scam, no legitimate company will contact you out of the blue, be unable to give you specific details, or pressure you to do anything. And if you’ve won a free getaway, you shouldn’t have to pay anything up front. Per CNBC, these types of scams carried the most significant financial impact in 2017 amounting to a median loss of $1,710 per victim.
Everybody buys online these days, and as such, online purchase scams are more prevalent than ever. Particularly on direct marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist, scammers try to buy things with bogus cashier’s checks. The amount they send is more than the product costs. The scammer says they’ve made a mistake and request a refund. The refund is given and the check bounces soon after.
If you’re buying something and a seller requests payment outside the site’s usual payment methods, then you’ll likely never receive the item. In general, never accept checks as payment online, and always take advantage of buyer and seller protections each marketplace offers.
Looking for a job is undoubtedly draining. Even more so considering that a substantial chunk of online job advertisements are scams. In some cases, these phony job ads may be easy to spot. However, if someone’s desperate for work and the offer sounds attractive, the scam can be tough to resist. There are a few things you can do to safeguard against job scams, though.
For starters, never accept a job from a company if you’ve never submitted an application or had any formal discussions. You should also never give a company any sensitive personal or financial information. And if the job responsibilities seem minimal compared to the pay offered, that’s another red flag. Finally, avoid any job opportunities that charge you for training or aren’t clear about the compensation provided.
The best way to protect yourself against scams is to know that you are as susceptible as anyone. When we think of scams, we tend to discount the efficacy of the scammer, but the reality is these people are very good at what they do. They dupe people of all ages and backgrounds into handing over money every day.
Approach any unsolicited contact with caution, especially from unknown senders. That means screening calls from random numbers, hovering over a link to see its destination before clicking, checking the sender’s domain address in an email, and asking someone you know if they sent you a message. If any mention of wire transfers, cashier’s checks or other payment outside standard payment modes are mentioned, that’s another clear hint to stay away.