Scams are increasingly popular on social sites and online transactions. The fraudster perpetrating them can be very persuasive but with a little knowledge about the most common scams, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.
You receive a check for something you sold over the Internet, but the amount of the check is more than the selling price. The buyer then instructs you to deposit the check and either send the difference back to them or transfer it electronically. The check they send will be returned by the bank because it is fraudulent or drawn on insufficient funds but often not before the victim has already sent the "difference". It may also be a scam if the check you receive is from someone other than the person buying your item because it may be stolen.
Social Site Scams
Social Site Scams occur when a hacker gains access to an individual's social networking accounts or their e-mail and pretends to be them. The hacker then sends out e-mails or posts messages saying they are traveling abroad and are now stranded because they were robbed. They plead for their friends and family to send money for some urgent need like needing to buy a plane ticket or pay a hotel bill. Once this money is sent it is often irretrievable.
Someone you meet through an online dating site or chat room asks you for financial help. This could be for a variety of reasons such as an emergency or to come see you in person.
Recognizing these popular scams goes a long way in helping to protect you from becoming a victim. Here are some basic tips to follow.
- Go with your gut instinct. If it sounds suspicious, it probably is.
- Don't accept payments for more than the amount of the service with the understanding that you send the buyer the difference.
- Don't accept checks from individuals you've only met online
- Never give out your personal or bank account information to a stranger.
- If someone who appears to be your friend asks for financial help through a social site, e-mail or text message, call them or find other means to verify that the request is legitimate.
Learn more about other common scams like lottery and job scams on our Security Tips page.
Learn how to report a scam.