Watch Out for Disaster Fraud, Shopping Scams, and ‘Like Farming’

Watch Out for Disaster Fraud, Shopping Scams, and ‘Like Farming’

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Criminals are working overtime to separate you from your money and valuable personal information. From carelessly clicking “like” on a Facebook post to pledging your life savings in an investment scheme, anyone could be vulnerable to these scammers.

Online Shopping Scams on the Rise for Holiday Shoppers

Usually, criminals target senior citizens. They’re less likely to be tech savvy, more likely to have money in savings, and relatively easy to scare with high-pressure tactics. However, a new type of online scam is targeting a younger demographic.

Online shopping scams offer deals that are too good to be true. Literally. Often, these fake shopping sites are advertised on social media, where they get passed from person to person. If you see an ad with unbelievable prices for designer goods or the hottest toys for the holidays, you’re probably looking at a scam.

Be a savvy shopper and avoid clicking links from social media. If you do, double-check the site’s URL in your address bar to make sure that you didn’t get duped.

FEMA Warns of Scams Following Storms

In the wake of every disaster, scammers look for opportunities to target people who are already struggling. It’s despicable–and distressingly common.

The Gulf Coast endured two hurricanes in the span of six weeks. California and Colorado are both battling historic wildfires. Parts of the Midwest are buried in an early snowfall. In short, the weather has been making everyone’s lives difficult–and scammers know it.

Two categories of fraud tend to pop up after a disaster. The first is focused on fake crowdfunding efforts. Always give directly to an organization you trust, such as the Red Cross, instead of donating to individuals on social media. Never send a wire transfer or prepaid gift card, as those are almost impossible to track.

The other type of post-disaster scam targets the victims directly. Fake contractors may try to pressure people whose homes were damaged to pay sky-high rates and then disappear with the money. Others may even pose as disaster relief officials who claim that you need to pay a fee in order to get aid.

Think Before You ‘Like’

If you’re a Facebook user, then you probably liked pages and posts without really paying attention. You see something that seems funny or interesting, click a button, and then move on with your day. The problem is that some of those pages might be traps designed to collect your information.

For example, the “Free RV” scam is very common on social media. A post pops up with the chance to win your very own motor home! You like and share it without giving it much thought. Maybe you click the link and enter your personal information to win. Maybe you hastily click through the permissions you’re granting without realizing that the scammers will get access to your friend’s list and other info.

Use good judgment and pause before you click anything on your computer, phone, or tablet. At best, you might end up with irritating spam messages. At worst, you could accidentally download malware or open yourself up to identity theft.