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Are You About To Be Scammed? 7 Red Flags

Posted By Miranda Marquit On 09/04/2013 @ 8:30 am In Personal Finance | 1 Comment

Online scams seem to be everywhere. From “work from home” scams to phishing attempts, fraudsters are out to get their hands on your hard-earned cash.

However, like many dangers, there are usually red flags along the way. Here are 7 red flags that might indicate that you are about to be scammed:

1. A Social Media Friend Asks for Money

Social media [3] scams are increasingly sophisticated. There are dating cons where someone cultivates a relationship with you and then asks you to wire money to resolve an emergency or ensure that you can meet. There are scams where someone poses as a friend you have on Facebook to ask for money. Anytime someone approaches you online for money — especially if they want you to wire the money — you need to be on high alert.

2. “Official” Requests for Personal Information

I once received an email that looked a lot like it was from Amazon. It claimed that something was wrong with my account, and that I needed to send login and password information to resolve the issue. I didn’t bite, thankfully. Understand that banks, the government, and other official business won’t ask you to send account numbers, login information, and other sensitive information by return email.

3. Links to “Fix” a Problem

A related issue in phishing [4] is that of setting up a link to “fix” a problem. When you over your mouse over the link, though, it might turn out to be an incomprehensible string of numbers and letters. Or you might see something like amazon.com.1234567.ru. That’s a giveaway that it’s not actually Amazon asking you to click. Also, watch out for URLs that hide behind shorteners. Don’t click from the email; instead, go to the official site or call the customer service number on the official site for the true story.

4. Something’s “Off” with the Subject Line

If there is no subject line, or if the subject line is vague, proceed with caution. Most of the people you know enter a subject line. Most business professionals enter a specific subject line so that you know what it’s about. Also, watch out for subjects that include a lot of exclamation points or caps.

5. Spelling and Grammar Problems

We all make mistakes. Some of the emails I send — even business emails — contain typos. However, if there are persistent spelling and grammar problems, and if you have serious doubts that the email writer is doing so in his or her native language, you might want to be careful. Official sources don’t usually sound like they don’t know how to write in your native language.

6. Urgency

Are you being pressured into something? Is the sender claiming that life hangs in the balance? Are you being told that if you don’t invest right now [5]¬†you will lose the opportunity of a lifetime forever? Anytime there’s this level of urgency to an “offer” or request for help, you need to be careful. Often, it means that there’s a scammer in the background.

7. It Seems Too Good To Be True

As always, the biggest sign that you are about to be scammed online is that indefinable feeling that something is too good to be true. You do need to watch out, though, since there are some scams that sound perfect reasonable [6], without making wild claims. Watch out for those that play on your sympathies, try to scare you into taking action, or that focus on some particular characteristic you have, rather than on boring facts.

What are some of the signs you recognize when it comes to online scams?

(Photo: Nick Page [7])


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URLs in this post:

[1] Tweet: http://twitter.com/share

[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/are-you-about-to-be-scammed-7-red-flags.html

[3] Social media: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/smart-social-media-protect-finances.html

[4] phishing: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/beware-phishing-text-messages-voice-mails.html

[5] if you don’t invest right now: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/5-ways-investment-scam-stinks.html

[6] scams that sound perfect reasonable: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/watch-reasonable-sounding-investment-scams.html

[7] Nick Page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27506472@N04/7849822584

Thank you for reading!