Most of us probably think we could easily detect a scam if anyone ever tried to take advantage of us. And yet, the Stanford Center on Longevity reports that each year between $40 – 50 billion is taken via schemes, scams, and other fraudulent practices.
Some of the most common scams we hear about are telemarketing scams in which we’re told we’ve won a prize or we’re asked to send money to help a family member or door-to-door scams in which the fraudster comes knocking and tries to sell us home security systems, lawn services, or other services. But there are a plenty of scams that occur on a much grander scale and pop up when we least suspect them. Here are a few:
When investing. When you meet with an investment advisor, the assumption is often that they’re an expert in their field. You think they’re someone you can trust with your money otherwise how would they stay in business. But, unfortunately, that simply isn’t true. As CNBC shows with its article on the 10 most common investment scams, there are plenty of investment “advisors” who are all too willing to trick you into making bad investments so that they can reap the profits. The piece provides a great rule of thumb to follow: if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
When buying or selling a car online. The Internet has revolutionized the way we do many things—including how we buy and sell our vehicles. Prior to the Internet, it would have been very difficult to buy or sell a car to someone who lives several states away, but now it can be done with a click of a button. It can also be very easy to fall victim to an online car buying or selling scam.
The National Consumers League outlines different scams that are used to lure in unsuspecting car buyers. Often, buyers are asked to wire or transfer funds and after doing so never hear from the “seller” again. As this article shows, car selling scams are similar. Usually, the fraudulent buyer will respond to a seller’s post. They’ll tell the seller they’ll be receiving extra funds so that they can pay the shipper. Then, the seller is asked to transfer the extra funds before they’ve received their payment. The seller sends the funds but never receives a payment from the “buyer.”
When buying a home. Buying a new home is an exciting time. But it also opens the door to individuals who are more than willing to take advantage of your excitement. You might come across a great deal, but don’t rush the process or allow anyone to pressure you into rushing. This article delineates eight key steps for buying a home. When you follow these carefully and closely, and make sure everyone involved in the transaction does so as well, you can give yourself the time needed to make wise, careful decisions and protect your wallet in the process.
When doing your taxes. Doing your taxes can be stressful enough without having to worry that someone is going to try to trick you out of your money. But, unfortunately, that is exactly what happens. The complicated nature of doing one’s taxes creates fertile ground for scammers. For example, in one scam, a fraudster will call you posing as an IRS agent and will then tell you that you owe money to the government or that you’re eligible for a refund. As the article notes, you should never give out your personal information over the phone. Hang up and call the IRS yourself to inquire about any issues with your taxes.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to avoiding these common scams is that we can all be tricked. These schemes are designed to play on our emotions and vulnerabilities so you just never know what you might fall for. But knowing what these tricks look like is half the battle. When you can recognize the common moves fraudsters make, you increase your chances of avoiding a costly mistake.