10 Common Scams And How Not To Be A Victim

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Over $10.5 billion was lost to phone scams in 2019. 

I almost became a victim to scams twice last year. I take a lot of pride in thinking that I can spot a scam and would never fall victim to one, but I was so close. 

Scams happen everywhere and scammers are getting better and better at making scams look legit. 

Today’s post is a must-read. Share it with your friends and family. Scammers are horrible people and unfortunately good at what they do. We just need to be better so we don’t fall for these scams.

Before we get started, make sure to sign up for my free resource library and get tons of free printables to save money and build wealth.

1. Dating scams

I know what you’re thinking, dating scams?! That’s a thing? Yep. And people lose tens of millions of dollars on it every year.

Picture this, you meet this wonderful person online and you think you found the one. They tell you they were just diagnosed with cancer, hit by a car, or in need of money because they take care of their entire family. These people will invest months or even a year just to get you to really trust them. 

Almost guaranteed a scam, yet so many people fall for it. And it makes sense, right? How could this person you love and care for make something up like this?

If you’ve ever seen the show Catfish, you know all about this. Some people on that show sent thousands of dollars to strangers online thinking they were this beautiful woman they fell in love with when it’s really an old man who is scamming a bunch of people at the same time. 

Don’t send money to people you don’t know, especially on the internet. 

2. Phone scams

Did you know half of all mobile calls in 2019 were phone scams?

Phone scams are the most common method of scamming people. Fortunately, with the improvement of technology, you can see when a scam caller is calling because your phone will say “Scam Likely”. Scam callers usually have the same area code as you, making it look like someone in town is calling you. 

If you don’t know the phone number calling you, don’t answer. Wait until they leave a voicemail.

  • If the voicemail is threatening you or telling you that you owe the IRS money or you’re going to prison, it’s fake. 
  • You probably didn’t win a free vacation.
  • You probably didn’t win free money.

You can also block phone numbers. Any time I get a scam call, they immediately get blocked. 

3. Warranty scams 

This is one of the scams I almost fell for. As I’m writing this, I just received a warranty scam letter in the mail.

Anyone who owns a vehicle may receive a phone call or letter from a scammer who appears to be from a car dealer or manufacturer. The letter says your warranty is about to expire and that you need to take action ASAP in order to keep the warranty. When these warranty scams are done by phone call, they seem entirely legitimate. Somehow they know your personal information which makes you think it’s not a scam.  

Never give your social security, credit card, driver’s license number, or bank information unless you can 100% verify that these are real people. 

You can learn more about warranty scams here.

4. Email scams

Email is notorious for scams. So much so that there’s an entire folder for them labeled scams. 

Scammers have found a way to make it seem like they are from a company you trust. This could be a bank, credit card company, social networking site, or an online store you shop at.

Here are a few tips to not be a victim to email scams:

  • Use security software on your computer
  • Use multi-factor authentication for any accounts you log in to. I set up 2-step security by first entering my long password and then having a unique code sent to my phone or email any time I am logging into accounts. 
  • Set up software updates to go automatically so you can stay up to date with security 

Here is a guide by the FTC on recognizing and avoiding phishing scams. 

5. Craigslist scams

I love Craigslist. I found my current rental through Craigslist, but I was cautious. Rental scams are huge on Craigslist. You’re scrolling through Craigslist and have an amazing place to rent, but the landlord wants money upfront before even meeting you. Do not do this! Many rentals on Craigslist don’t even exist or even have people permanently living in these places. 

Craigslist also has people who say they’ll ship an item to you once you pay them first. Oftentimes this is a scam and you’ll never receive the item. 

Here are important tips for avoiding scams on Craigslist:

  • Never provide payment to anyone you have not met in person
  • Be cautious with items that involve shipping
  • Never wire funds – this is 100% a scammer if they ask you to do this
  • Never accept cashier/certified checks
  • Never give anyone your bank information

I recommend checking out this Craigslist Scams and Frauds guide if you frequent Craigslist. Craigslist also has a page on avoiding scams.

6. Work from home scams

There are many real work from home jobs, but there are just as many scams. If somebody is promising you thousands of dollars in the first month as long as you give them a huge sum of cash right away, it’s probably a scam.

It sounds great, doesn’t it? Make a bunch of money right away with this great opportunity. All you have to do is give someone a bunch of money to get started and it’ll take little to no work. Scam.

I recommend reading the FTC’s guide on work from home scams.

7. Competition scams

Competition, lottery, and gambling scams are one of the most common scams. 

Someone calls you and says you’ve won $1,000,000. Or you won a luxurious vacation to the Maldives. In order to get your prize, they tell you that you need to “pay taxes and fees” first. Scam.

If you ever have to pay money, wire money, cash a check and give them back a portion of the check, it’s a scam. 

Here’s a helpful article on prize scams by the FTC. 

8. Online shopping scams

Most people go online shopping these days. Unfortunately, scammers can create a shopping website that looks legitimate. Before making an online purchase on a website you’ve never shopped on before, google the company and make sure people have received their orders. You can do this by typing in Google: “company name + scam” or “company name + real company?”.

When making online purchases, opt to pay with a credit card. This is ideal because credit card purchases are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. This law makes it so that you can dispute charges and the creditor will investigate them. 

Never email financial information. Never share your social security number, credit card, or checking account information. 

You can learn more about online shopping scams here.

9. Check scams

Fake check scams can full someone who thinks they could never fall for a scam.

In a fake check scam, someone will ask you to deposit a check, then ask you to send some of that money to another person. There’s always a creative story that sounds legit behind all of this. These scams are great at tricking people because the check looks legitimate, even to a bank teller. Heck, it may even be a real check from someone who has had their identity stolen. 

When you cash this check at a bank, you fall victim to this. You’re stuck paying the bank back.

Here’s the FTC guide to spotting fake checks.

10. Small business/LLC scams

Do you have a small business or LLC? If so, you may receive a scam letter in the mail with an invoice saying you owe $100+ to an agency who will file your LLC renewal for you. This letter will look legit and formal. It’s a scam. 

LLC annual renewal fees are usually affordable, as low as  $10 in some states. You can find your state’s LLC annual fee by typing your state + LLC annual fee into Google. You can renew your LLC online and it only takes a couple of minutes. 

What to do if you have fallen victim to a scam

1. Report the scam to your state consumer protection office. If any money or possessions were lost in a scam, report it to your local police. 

2. Report the scam to the federal government. Doing this can help keep others from falling victim to a scam. 

3. Report the scam to the FTC

Here is more information on reporting scams via the U.S. government.

9 Things you can do to avoid scams

  • Scammers pretend to be government officials or charities, do NOT fall victim to this. No one from the IRS is calling your phone trying to arrest you. 
  • Before you make an online purchase, make sure the company is legit. Type in the company + scam on Google to see what people are saying about the company.
  • Scammers call you with a phone number that is often the same area code as yours. If you don’t know the phone number calling you, do not answer. Wait for a voicemail. Do not call back if it sounds suspicious. Look up the phone number on Google (and it should tell you if it’s a scam or not). 
  • Don’t pay upfront for anything. Scammers will make you think you won a free vacation or prize but you need to “pay taxes and fees first”. No. This is a scam!
  • Don’t make a purchase in a hurry. Take your time with purchases. If you think something doesn’t sound right, ask a trusted family member or friend what they think.
  • Do not answer robocalls (they should be marked with “Scam Likely”). If you answer a robocall, report it to the FTC.
  • Sign up for free scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.
  • Report scams. Doing this helps others who may fall victim to the same scam as you.
  • Teach your kids, grandparents, parents, and everyone about scams. More people need to know about this. Share this post with everyone. 

My sister also has a few posts on scams that I recommend reading:

Final note

Like I mentioned in the intro of this post, I almost victim twice to scams.

The first time was when I received an LLC renewal invoice in the mail. It looked legit. This company said they would renew my LLC for the great low price of $110. However, you can renew your LLC by yourself and it only takes less than a minute. In my state, it only costs $10 to do.

The second time was when I received a warranty notice in the mail stating I needed to renew my car warranty ASAP or I would lose out on a special warranty. Turns out its complete B.S. because I just bought my car and it came with a warranty.

Let’s do our best to put an end to scammers so people can stop losing money. Please share this post so people can see the different scams out there and how NOT to be a victim of them.

Have you ever fallen victim to a scam?