Finance Globe Blog

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Financial Scams in 2019

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Financial scams are extremely common now. They put a lot of people at risk and in many cases you can lose a lot of money. With the advancement in technology, scammers are getting smarter and that makes it much more difficult to identify the scam before it is too late. As we enter into 2019, below are a few scams to keep an eye out on.

  • Crypto Rip-Offs: Cryptocurrencies are so common now due to the big success of Bitcoin. Now new coins offer an initial coin offering (ICO) to support a new cryptocurrency in exchange for cash. Now there are many fake initial coin offerings where a investor will send over cash for fake or non-exsiting coin offerings. Given there is no real regulation in the crypto market, most lose that cash and can never get it back.
  • Online shopping scams: There are now lots of websites where people pay for a product, but never receive the product. You should always check the seller and only purchase from reputable websites. 
  • Lottery Scams: Lottery financial scams are not new, but they surprisingly work well on some victims. The scam bascially is telling a person they have won the lottery, but in order to receive the money, they have to pay a one-time fee. This fee is a transaction fee and is supposed to cover insurance, taxes, etc. The reality is the scammer will continue to try and charge you until you stop paying into the scam.
  • Unusual forms of payment: If you are buying anything on the internet and the seller asks for an unusual form of payment, such as wire transfers, gift cards, or venmo, be very wary. These are usually untraceable forms of payments, and you will likely not get your money back.
  • Advance fee loans: This form of scam is especially tricky if you are not financially savvy. Scammers offer “guaranteed” or “pre-approved” loans, but prior to receiving it, you have to complete a credit application for a fee! The reality is you will never receive the loan and you lost out on the application fee.
  • Look-alike websites: As you shop online, be wary of look-alike websites that have similar URLs, but are just slightly different. If you are not paying attention, you may end up giving this fake website personal or financial information. 
  • Tax/IRS scams: As you are getting ready to file your tax returns, a lot of tax or IRS scams pop up at this time of the year. This could include phishing emails, calls from the IRS (which aren’t really from the IRS), letters in the mail, or even perpetrators impersonating themselves as a tax preparer. Make sure you do your diligence during the tax season and send your financial information only to people you trust. 
  • Grandparent scam: I hate this one personally, and many families have been impacted by this scam. Bascially a person calls your grandparent claiming to be a grandchild in trouble. This could include being in an accident, hospitalized, or arrested. This scammer needs money immediately and asks your grandparent to send you money. Sometimes they can reference family members or friends, which they find through social media. Be very careful about this, and talk to your grandparents about this potential scam
  • Fake vacation listings: Another common financial scam is the use of fake vacation listings. These fake listens do not exist or gets double booked and you lose out on your money and your vacation! The scammer gets your credit card information and uses it to book the place and can also use it on other purchases before you find out it’s a scam. I would only book on reputable websites and it never hurts to call to confirm the company and website is legitimate.
  • Fake charities: Another very common form of a scam is through fake charities. This can be sent to you via email, text, call, and now through social media. I always call them directly and reach out to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to confirm the charity is legitimate and a non-profit.
  • “Can You Hear Me” scams: This is a new scam given the huge growth in voice technology. Now you can provide your signature, authorize payments and even move money around using just your voice. So if hackers record your voice and impersonate you, your money may be as risk. I would recommend to never answer a phone number you don’t know, and let them leave a message on voice mail. This also helps you avoid random sales calls!
  • Fake shipping notification: This appears as an email supposedly from a big retailer and asks you to click on a link to confirm the package. Once you do, the link can install viruses into your computer and will steal your personal information. 

There are so many scams out there that I did not even mention. You have to be very careful in today’s world, and even if you are careful you may end up getting scammed anyway. The best rule of thumb I can give you is to keep an eye on your financial activity and if you see some unusual transactions, call your financial institution immediately before it gets worse.

Has anyone been a victim of any of the scams I mentioned? Please share your story.

 

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Comments 1

Wanderer on Sunday, 10 February 2019 07:40

A good read and somewhat sobering to say the least. Who can a person trust?

A good read and somewhat sobering to say the least. Who can a person trust?
Guest
Wednesday, 20 February 2019