How to Avoid Common Money Scams and Sleep Better at Night

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We’ve all been the target of at least one financial scam over the course of our lives. Some of us aren’t even aware of it! Financial frauds lighten wallets in the U.S. by billions of dollars each year. Understanding the most common scams will permit you to spot them easily.

There are many types of financial fraud, but the most common require little in the way of skill and resources. Let common sense be your guide.

Keep your money by avoiding these common scams:

1. Phishing scams.

These usually come in the form of emails, but can utilize the telephone. In this fraud, the scammer is after personal information, usually account numbers or passwords. They may pose as a utility or credit card company. An email inquiry will often include a link to a fake website.

If you think the email or call might be legitimate, don’t respond to the caller or email! Instead, contact your bank, utility company, or creditor directly and ask if there is anything amiss with your account.

2. Scams involving weight loss products or other outrageous health claims.

You’ve seen the outrageous commercials and ads on the internet. You may have even received snail mail regarding these products.

Many offer free trials, but require your credit card information. If you don’t cancel in time, you’ll be charged every month for a product that may or may not work. These automatic payments can be extremely difficult to cancel, too.

Avoid outrageous claims and free trial periods, unless you know the company is legitimate.

3. The Nigerian prince email.

Surely you’ve received an email from an exiled Nigerian prince that promises to share his billion-dollar fortune with you. All you need to do is pay a few fees and give up your social security number and bank account information.

There are numerous scams that follow this general theme. Avoid buying into any outlandish offers that you receive via email.

4. Charitable or disaster relief scams.

It’s not unusual to find people knocking on doors after a recent disaster. Unfortunately, some of them are only interested in acquiring your money for themselves.

Make a phone call and validate any solicitor and organization before handing your money over.

5. Requests to overpay.

This happens often with online auctions. You’ve just sold your old recliner for $50. However, the buyer wants to pay you $250 and requests that you send the extra back.

There are several stories to support this odd request. You’ll receive a counterfeit check or money order, lose your money, and possibly even your chair!

6. Scams that involve free prizes.

There’s usually an administrative cost you’ll be required to pay or a premium phone number you’ll have to call and pay an excessive rate.

7. Lotteries.

The lottery is random. There’s nothing anyone can do to increase your odds. Your only option for increasing your chance of winning is to purchase more tickets.

8. Odd payments.

You can be quite certain that a money order from an African bank is counterfeit. By the time your bank notifies you that it’s bogus, your item is long gone. Accept payments from the normal sources and avoid this common scam.

We’re exposed to financial fraud on a regular basis. Recognize the most common scams and use common sense.

A Nigerian prince isn’t going to share a billion dollars with you! Remember to avoid giving personal information over the phone or clicking a link in an email when you didn’t initiate the transaction directly.