Cons, scams, grifts: call them what you will, they’re all the same. When a would-be thief employs deceit, subterfuge, and charm to part you from your money, instead of stealth, they’re engaged in a scam. Some people are more artful about it, trying to scam people in-person through wit and charm. Others are blunter, using technology like cellphones or email to try to deceive you.
In either case, if you know what to look for, you can avoid most of the common scams.
Most online scams are pretty simple to spot. If something seems too good to be true online, it is. Ridiculous deals on hard-to-find items, promises of riches if you send a few bucks and tantalizing offers for dream vacations are usually just the bait to a not-so-elaborate scam. Whether you’re receiving emails from so-called “princes” who have money they’d love to send you, or just looking at a well-recreated copy of a login page that exists to phish for your login and password, you need to know how to spot the fake.
Make sure you disregard any fishy emails from accounts you don’t know. Likewise, only shop on trusted sites. And, when you input your login info, make sure the site’s URL in the address bar looks right. Some scammers will go to extreme lengths just to steal your login info.
Whether from actual robots or real people with advanced auto-dialing programs, scam calls are annoying. They’re also, usually, pretty easy to spot. When someone calls your phone out of the blue demanding money, odds are good that they’re not on the up-and-up. Extra red flags if they’re asking for the money in the form of gift cards, a common hallmark of phone scammers.
When you get a cold call from a person who says you owe them money, odds are good that you’re safe to just hang up on them. If it’s actually official business, the business in question should contact you via mail with normal communication. If it isn’t official business, why waste your time?
Real-life scams can often be the hardest to detect, as con artists often work hard to evade detection. However, there are some red flags to look for: high-pressure tactics, bizarre behavior by people near them and unlikely scenarios that don’t naturally occur are all hallmarks of the most common in-person grifts. Our rule of thumb: keep your wallet in your front pocket and your bank account info secret, and don’t give any money to anybody you don’t trust.