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Email Prize Scams
One of the most common internet scams out there can be found right in your email inbox: it’s the promise of a prize you have “won” and need to claim. Fake prize emails come in a variety of disguises, free magazines, free iPhone prize, lottery money, etc. They tell you that before you can claim your prize, you need to follow a number of steps, some of which ask you to send money so they can ship your prize out to you since for some odd reason it’s located in a different country. After a couple weeks, you realize they’re never going to send you your prize and kept your “shipping” money. Because of their ever-changing disguises, these phony prize emails have been scamming people out of their money for years. The only thing you win out of these prize emails is an empty wallet.
Either you or a friend has probably fallen for this common Craigslist scam since everyone uses the site to list items they no longer use. To be specific, this scam targets people who list higher priced items with wide dimensions such as a car, bike, or furniture. You will receive an email, or possibly even a text, from someone in a different country claiming they want the item you listed and will send you a check for more money than what you’re asking for to cover for shipping costs. They tell you to deposit the check (it’s fake) and then send them back some money for their shipping company, usually around $500. Later, you will find out the check was fake and you send them your real money and the item you shipped out to them.
Fake Shopping Sites
The worst thing about these scam sites is that it’s disguised as something so real. It’s almost impossible to see the cracks in these fake shopping sites. They’ll offer great products at great prices, which is too good to be true. After buying products, you will quickly realize your credit card information was stolen and you will never get the products you ordered.
Credit Card Phishing Sites
Credit card phishing sites are very similar to fake shopping sites in the way that they essentially look real and professional, but the key difference is that credit card phishing sites attach themselves to real websites. Because of this, it’s almost impossible to catch the transition from real website to the fake one. These sites will send you an email and will link you to real sites, but within that same email will be a link to theirs and you won’t even know it. They will steal your credit card info as soon as you enter it in.
Text Message Scams
These scams are annoying because they never come in single ones. They come in multiple texts throughout the month and for a variety of reasons. They may text you saying you won tickets to your local improv theater or maybe your health insurance says you won a raffle for a free vacation. The texts look professional, but they’re from fake people trying to get your personal information when you claim the prizes. If you actually did win something, they would have called you over the phone and from a number actually associated with the place you’re winning the prizes or tickets from.
Problem With Your Account Messages
These messages can come in the form or emails or texts. They claim something went wrong or there is a security issue on one of your financial accounts such as PayPal or your online banking. They will link you to the sites, which is actually a link to their fake phishing site disguised as the real ones. Once you are there, you will try to log in to fix the “issue,” but in reality, you’re giving them your online financial passwords.
“Mugged While Traveling” Scam
There are multiple variations of this scam. A phony family member will either call, email, or text you saying they got mugged while traveling and need money to get back home. Another variation will be a phony family member you haven’t heard from in a long time claiming their car was in an accident and they need a wire transfer to get a rental car to get back home. These scams will easily fool you because they claim to be your own family members, and sometimes relatives you haven’t heard from in a long time so you can’t be sure it’s really them or not. These scams rely on your friendliness and can easily gather information about who the family member they’re trying to be when they pretend to reminisce with you about those good old times. You might end up sending them money or even your credit card info and then later realize that your great uncle Greg actually passed away many years ago.
Charity and Disaster Relief Scams
These scams rely on your empathy for others. They claim to be charities helping out the poor or victims of natural disasters. These scams pop up in droves after a huge natural disaster has taken place and you can find it being circulated on the news. They will link you to their website where they collect your money and your credit card info. The only victim here is you.
Update Application Downloads Scams
These scams are disguised as messages on websites that tell you your flash application or some other application is out of date and needs to download an update. When you are taken to their site to update the application, you are actually downloading malware and viruses that can collect your personal information, including financial ones.
Phony Online Dating Sites
These scams cater to single people looking for a chance at love through online dating. Since online dating has become popular among singles and successful couples, scams are trying to cash in as well. Phony online dating sites will even use bots to pretend to be people on the site to chat with you. They will ask for gifts of money and other materialistic items. Some sites require you to make a payment before you can even use their site.
Tips to Avoid These Common Scams
- Always check that the URL is the real one you are looking for.
- Check where the email is coming from and gather whether it’s from a phony email or person, or the actual company
- Only shop on sites that accept PayPal or other secure methods of payment.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and you should always take extra measures to ensure something – is legit or to cross reference the information being given to you.
- If you never entered a prize pool to begin with and suddenly you won a lottery you never even heard of, then all of their prizes are fake.
- To ensure applications actually need an update, you can visit their website directly rather than being linked to by other shady sites.
- Never give your credit card information to anyone over the phone or through an email.