September 23, 2015

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Scam Alert: Do You Know How to Spot a Scam?

Have you fallen for scams such as those that offer for free airline tickets? It seems like, every time your turn around, there’s yet another scam that you need be aware of – each one attempting to steal a bit more of your personal information.

Understanding the details behind different types of scams can help you identify them — an important skill, given how sophisticated scammers have become. Although many scams are aimed at short-term financial gain, they can also have long-term identity theft repercussions. Just one successful scam attempt can take years to untangle and put your financial health at risk.

We want to help you stay informed of threats like these. In the months ahead, we’ll be regularly updating our blog with “Scam Alert” posts similar to the ones that we’ve written on caller ID spoofing, charities that don’t exist, and IRS scams.

Types of Scams

Before we dive into the specifics of each scheme, there are several common tactics that should trigger your “scam alert” sensor. Here are some aspects they tend to share:

  • Urgency: Scammers rely on short timeframes, because that limits how much their victims can research an offer. They emphasize that if you don’t act immediately, you’ll lose the offer. Some scams even employ scare tactics like threatening arrest if you don’t give information right now.
  • Sound-alike company names: The free airline tickets that we recently wrote about were being offered by “US Airlines,” which doesn’t exist. Scammers were relying on a mash-up between US Airways and American Airlines to sound like a familiar company.
  • Handling fees: When scammers offer something for “free,” they emphasize there’s only a small fee to pay in order to process your prize. That gives them your bank or credit card information as well as other details they can use for identity theft.
  • Recovery services: Often, scammers claim that some aspect of your financial profile or computer operating system has been damaged, and they’re willing to help — for a “small fee,” of course.
  • Emotional appeal: From fear to love, many scams are designed to play on your emotions. Charity scams tug at your heartstrings, IRS scams prey on your tax-related anxiety, job-posting scams tap into your optimism about finding a new career. This leads to victims acting impulsively, like clicking on pop-up ads or opening email attachments from unknown senders.

Be Ready for the Next Scam

At some point, no matter where you live or what you do for a living, a scammer will come your way — through a phone call, letter, or email. Staying aware and being ready will help you avoid falling into their trap.

Expect to see regular posts from us covering the ins and outs of some popular scams. Know of a scam that we should be writing about? Leave a comment below or reach out to us on Facebook and tell us about it!

Judy Leary

President at IdentityForce
For Judy, identity theft protection is in her DNA—her dad started IdentityForce’s parent company in the 70s, and in the 80s, she and her brother came on board. She loves her dedicated team and how much they care about every member, partner, and supplier. In addition to protection against identity theft, Judy is passionate about travel (Aruba is her “happy place”!) and giving back. She volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association, Mazie Mentoring Program, and Sunshine Golden Retriever Rescue. She’s also a proud mom to 2 grown daughters and 3 rescue dogs.

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