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It’s an unfortunate fact of life: scammers are out there. Millions of dollars are sent around the world every day, and wherever money travels, criminals will surely follow. Often, immigrant populations are put especially at risk of scams, as a number of them are designed to target those who send money abroad to loved ones back home. At Sharemoney, keeping you, your money, and your personal information safe is our top priority. Want to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones? We have you covered—keep reading below to learn more about different types of fraud and online scams!
Different Types of Scams
First things first…what is a scam? A scam is any type of dishonest scheme intended to swindle someone out of money or property. In the Internet age, all kinds of scams proliferate. Here are some of the most common frauds, and signs you should watch out for:
- Relationship and Romance Scams:
These types of online scams, also known as catfishing, occur when a fraudster poses as a potential love interest on the Internet in order to swindle money from their victims. These scammers often pretend to be U.S. soldiers stationed abroad, wanna-be models, and rappers, and they ask their victims to send them funds to support false needs. If you start an Internet-based relationship with someone, make sure to do some research about the area they say they live in, what they do, and what their needs are. And watch out for warning signs, which include: your love interest can only communicate via email, not phone or webcam; they profess love to you immediately; they ask for sensitive or private information (social security numbers, bank account information, etc.)
2. Mystery Shopper Scams:
This fraud takes place when you are solicited by an unknown party to “mystery shop,” for that party to assess the adequacy of another business. Generally, these scams involve this party sending you a check or money order that needs to be deposited into your bank account. However, these checks or money orders are fraudulent, and once you deposit one the fraudster has access to your bank account information. To avoid this type of fraud, if someone you don’t know is offering to send money to your account, stop communicating immediately.
3. Sweepstakes Scams:
If someone calls, texts, or emails you out of the blue to say that you have won a sum of money or a large prize from sweepstakes you don’t remember entering, it is too good to be true. This is a common scam, and upon your reply, the scammer will likely tell you that you need to pay taxes, fees, or make some other payment in order to claim your prize, but remember: this prize does not really exist. Never reply to unsolicited messages claiming you have won a prize, and if the scammer is posing as a large, well-known company, you may want to report the message to the company as well.
4. Relative and Grandchild Emergency Scams:
These scams occur when a fraudster contacts you posing as a family relative, and claims to be involved in an emergency that requires a quick, large sum of money to be transferred. Examples include — but aren’t limited to — being involved in a car accident, needing money for bail or to avoid jail time, being stranded in a foreign country, etc. These types of scams often target the elderly and the scammer will frequently try to pose as a grandchild, which is why they are sometimes called “grandchild scams.” The scammer may get in touch via phone, email, or through social media messaging apps, and will often ask the victim to maintain secrecy, along the lines of “please don’t tell my parents!”
Should you ever be contacted in this manner, one of the most straightforward ways to determine if the person is truly a relative is to ask them for information that would only be common knowledge among your family members. You can also ask other, trusted family members to confirm the truthfulness of a story you are given. If no one close to you knows anything about the information contained in these messages, it is likely a scam.
5. Rental Scams:
When looking for a rental property, it’s wise to look for several red flags that can alert you to phony or nonexistent property listings. A landlord should never require you to wire cash for a deposit, security, first month’s rent, or any other reason. You should also never hand over money until you have a signed contract in hand; anyone who requires money first is likely trying to defraud you. There are different ways to avoid these types of fraud: don’t succumb to pressure to rent a property you haven’t been able to see in person (or have someone you trust view for you), or one that the landlord refuses to show you beforehand. In short, if someone tries to gain money for a rental property sight unseen and without a signed contract, walk away as it is likely a scam.
6. Charity scams:
Most charities are working towards the greater good, but there are plenty of imposters out there who are looking to gain money from kindhearted people who want to donate money to a worthy cause. Always do your research on a charity before donating to them. Online verification sources such as Charity Navigator or Guide Star provide complete information and financials on thousands of charities across the country, so you know how your money is put to work within the organization. Never give money to a charity that reaches out to you, and asks you to send money urgently. Fraudulent charities will often also use emotional tactics to try and coerce you into giving them money. Be wary of dramatic language that is not also backed up by facts about how your money will be used.
7. Tech Support and Computer “Fix” Scams:
These types of scams occur when a scammer posing as a computer technician contacts you to inform you of a virus, security problem, or other issues with your computer. They may either ask for payment before “fixing” your issue and/or gain remote access to your computer, and whatever sensitive information you may store on it. This correspondence may come via telephone, email, or even pop-up messages on your web browser.
If you are ever contacted in any of these formats and asked to call a telephone number to resolve a computer issue, to circumvent being scammed do not reply, or call the number. Legitimate companies will never reach out to you in this manner. If you suspect a security breach of your computer, update your security software and change all of your passwords immediately. Call your software provider’s customer service line directly, or visit their retailers, who can provide advice on taking further security measures if necessary.
Sharemoney Works Hard to Keep You Safe
We know scammers are out there, constantly trying to find new ways to defraud hardworking and vulnerable people of their money. Sharemoney follows strict protocols in how we communicate and conduct business with you, in order to keep you safe. Please remember the following when transacting with Sharemoney:
Only communicate with our customer service team. Our sole customer service email address is email@example.com, and if we require additional information from you in order to complete a transaction, our communication will come from this address only. We will never contact you using another address. If you receive a communication claiming to be from Sharemoney from a different email address, it is a scam. Please do not respond to the message and contact us to report any suspicious email.
We will never ask for your login information. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from Sharemoney, and you are asked for your account login information, this is a scam. Please do not share the information and contact us directly to report suspicious behavior.
Never send money on behalf of someone you do not know well. Although it may be permissible to conduct transactions through a third party with the proper approval, senders should not accept money from a person they don’t know or trust.
Don’t use Sharemoney as a payment method for services/purchases. Sharemoney is designed to safely send money to friends and family abroad, not to purchase goods or make payments for services. If you are using the service to pay for goods or services, we cannot guarantee the beneficiary will honor the agreement, and we are not responsible for their actions and do not guarantee we will be able to recover your funds if they’re collected.
If you ever have any questions, or you receive a communication from Sharemoney that seems suspicious, you can always get in touch with us 24/7 at 1-866-819-0119 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may visit our User Agreement for more information: https://www.sharemoney.com/us/en/user-agreement
For more details, we recommend visiting the following government resources:
- Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force: offers additional information regarding protecting oneself against various frauds at http://www.stopfraud.gov
- Internet Crime Control Center (ICCC): report a crime at www.ic3.gov. The ICCC is a joint partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.
- Report fraud, identity theft, register for “do not call” and more at the Federal Trade Commission website
Stay up to date on the latest scams and security breaches, and learn how to better protect yourself at the fraud website administered by the National Consumers League
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