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Online Community & Resource for Active Silver Surfers

The Silver Life

Online Community & Resource for Active Silver Surfers

Spotting Scams

Cyber Security UpdatesCyber Security Updates

Recently, my Visa card company sent a guide to recognizing potential scams that come to our emails, texts and other media.

I have reprinted their listing of common scams in the hope of preventing a devastating financial loss for us as we traverse this increasingly complex electronic universe.

Common Scams

Payment scams

Be wary if you are urged to make a purchase with the promise of compensation, or if someone offers to make a payment for you, or provides you with bank account info with which to make a payment. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you use a payment method you are not familiar with, you run the risk of ultimately being held responsible for the amount paid.

Employment scams

Be vigilant in validating employment opportunities, especially when exclusively online or working from home. Be suspicious if someone claims to have overpaid you for a job, promises to reimburse for equipment, or asks you to send equipment to an IT dept. The equipment may never be returned, and reimbursements or overpayments may be illegitimate, leaving you liable for the funds. Never divulge personal information online to an unreliable source or through deceptive job opportunities.

Tech support scams

Tech support claims your computer has malware and requests payment to fix the defects or access your computer.

Impersonation scams

Scammers pose as a legitimate company (like Capital One) or a utility company and request personal information or a payment transfer in order to make things “right” on your account. They might also use a fake caller ID that could show up as a legit company’s number and/ or request remote access to your device. Scammer posing as a utility company might warn you to pay your balance within a limited time or else the utility will be shut off.

Fake rental

A house is legitimately listed for sale online, but scammers have set up a fake website and listed the house as a rental. You send your first month’s deposit to a scammer pretending to be the landlord/owner.

Fake websites

Legitimate-looking websites are being created by scammers, and a quick Google search will lead you to a real-looking phone number. When you call, they’ll try to obtain your sign-in details or other information.

Overpayment scams

You receive an overpayment for an item you’re selling, immediately followed by a request to deposit the check (which turns out to be a bad check) and then send the difference via a wire or gift card.

Check cashing

You’re approached outside a bank branch and asked to cash a check for someone who claims they don’t have an account or left their ID home. The bad check will be held against your account when it doesn’t clear.

Romance scams

If you are asked for financial support from a new partner in a relationship that’s been exclusively online, you’re likely a target of this elaborate scheme.

Charity scams

You receive a request to donate to a charity that you’ve never heard of and for which you can’t find an official website.

Debt relief

You receive a request for payment in order to establish a service relationship to pay, settle or get rid of debt.

FTC/IRS scams

Scam artists are pretending to be IRS officials to get your money. They’ll call, email, or text you claiming you owe back taxes or there’s a problem with your tax return. They even rig caller ID to make their call look official. They play on your fears.

Investment scams

You receive a request to invest in a business opportunity with promises of high returns and/or getting rich quickly.

Lottery scams

You receive a request to prepay fees or taxes in order to receive a large prize you supposedly won.

Grandparent scam

You receive a call or text message from someone claiming to be a grandchild or loved one asking for money to help with an emergency, plus instructions on where to send the funds.

Puppy scam

Scammers post fake litters online or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually an existing breeder) to take advantage of puppy sales (sans the puppies.)

Online Merchant/Marketplace scams

When responding to ads or interacting in marketplaces on social media, research sellers and products independently to ensure legitimacy. Notice the red flags like a high-ticket item for a price too-good-to-be-true or a buyer who “accidentally” overpaid you for an item or someone asking for personal information or redirecting to an unfamiliar/strange looking URL.

Mortgage closing

You receive an email or text message that looks similar to your real estate agent’s contact info that indicates there is a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells you to wire closing costs to a different account.

Business email compromise scams

You receive an email from your supplier/vendor requesting to send money to a different account. The supplier/vendor email appears to be familiar. But this could be a fraudster who obtained access to the network of your supplier/vendor.

They summarized as follows in no particular order:

  • Scams often start with either someone you don’t know or someone who has not been in contact with you for some time.
  • The person or entity contacting you wants you to take immediate action to send money quickly because “this opportunity is only available for a limited time or about to expire”. You may also be threatened with law enforcement action (an IRS action for instance).
  • The person may require something in the form of a complicated payment such as purchasing a gift card, giving your code to an nor card you have, or depositing a check and returning the overpayment.
  • Don’t allow remote access to anyone asking to fix computer defects or malware.
  • Make sure you’re speaking to a legit company and not scammers posing as one. Call back the legitimate number for the company, not the one they give you.
  • Research social media marketplace merchants & look for red flags like very low prices. Remember the old adage, If it’s too good to be true-it probably is.
  • Don’t apply for jobs with enticing perks when the application wants personal info.
  • Be wary of relationships exclusively online with someone who needs financial support.
  • Remember the old adage “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.

If you suspect you have been a victim of one of these scams, contact your bank, credit card company, and law enforcement immediately. Although it might be embarrassing to admit to our gullibility, expedient reporting may limit the damage as well as be helpful in apprehending the offenders and in saving someone else from the same scam.

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About the Author: Dennis F.

Dennis has lived or traveled in Australia, the United States and Asia. He is an Army veteran with a PhD in Child and Developmental Psychology. He currently lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina, USA, with his wife Nancy and two dogs. Dennis is keenly interested in antiques, particularly militaria and coins. He occupies his time researching and writing for The Silver Life and caretaking houses for the summer residents of the mountains. Dennis is a founding member of The Silver Life.

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