Have you helped someone else out of the kindness of your heart only to find out that they were just playing you to get what they wanted – regardless of what it did to you in the process?
Research suggests that one out of every ten people get scammed in one way or another. This goes to show that scammers are everywhere. They’re on the internet sending you emails requesting money for fake organizations or telling you that you’ve won a contest you never even entered. They’re on the other end of the phone line feeding off your compassion, making you feel guilty enough to send them your hard earned cash.
While you can’t eliminate them from the world (as much as you’d like to at times), there are things you can do to protect yourself from becoming their next victim. So, if you’re approached by them (whether it be via email, phone or in person) and want to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of, just remember these seven things and you’ll do just fine:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
We all want to believe that we’re just one step away from inheriting a fortune from a relative we’ve never known. And, we’d all like to think that we’ve won a contest that resolves all of our money issues for years to come. However, the reality is that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Your chance of either of these scenarios happening is slim to none. So, while it’s great to wish for a landslide of money without any real work on your part or without losing someone that means the world to you, it’s not likely so don’t let your desire for an easy money solution short circuit your common sense.
Never give money to get money
Have you ever received an email telling you that you’ve got money coming to you, but you have to pay to get it? There’s millions of dollars in a bank account somewhere for you, and all you have to do is give someone a couple thousand dollars to get it released?
Although this says “scam” all the way, you’d be amazed at the number of people who fall for this trick. They drain their savings accounts and send it to someone in some other country and sit and wait for their fortune to arrive, which, of course, it never does.
If someone contacts you out of the blue and tells you that they need money to get you an even greater amount, don’t believe them. They’re just trying to make a living without having to do any of the work.
Don’t treat them like a friend
A good scammer will try to make you feel like they’re your friend. They will try to get you to like them, trust them and want to help them in any way you can. Often, they do this by joking with you and sharing bits and pieces about themselves (bits and pieces that are likely false and just meant to make you feel a connection).
You don’t have to be rude to the other person, but you also don’t have to be overly nice. The closer you let them take you in, the less likely you are to see when they’re taking advantage of you.
Don’t give them personal information
Some scammers don’t just stop at trying to get you to turn over your money. They try to find out more information to look for other ways to exploit you, or worse yet, to even hurt you. For these reasons, it is absolutely imperative that you don’t give out too much personal information.
For instance, if you live by yourself or your spouse is out of town then that is information you don’t want readily known. Sure, the person that is contacting you may be in another country, but they also may be just across town. Either way, they don’t need to know where you live, your daily habits or what hours you’re not home or home alone.
Not that you have to be paranoid and look at everyone like they’re out to get you, but you also don’t have to be an easy victim. Make it difficult for anyone shady to get into your life and they’ll likely leave you alone.
NEVER give out financial information
If you should not provide someone else your personal information, then it goes without saying that you should also never give out your financial information. Unless you’re applying for a loan, no one needs to know how much you make. And, no one EVER needs to have your bank account numbers or balances.
While this may seem like common sense, some people get caught up in either “helping” others or trying to collect on money that they’re told is theirs (for a small fee, of course). Don’t let yourself be one of these people. You work too hard for your money just to have someone else spend it.
Most scammers don’t just try to scam one person and call it a day. They keep going and going until they find someone willing to believe the lies that they’re telling. And then, they move on to the next person and the next and the next.
So, if you Google the person or organization they say that they represent, you’re probably going to find stories of others who trusted them when they shouldn’t have. At a minimum, you’re likely to at least find the same type of story being used.
Don’t be afraid to report them
You may be tempted to just ignore whomever is trying to scam you and, in most cases that’s enough to get them to go away. But, if they’re being persistent or trying something that you’ve never seen before, don’t be afraid to report them to authorities. While you may be smart enough to not fall prey to their ploys, there are others who might not be so lucky.
Even if the person can’t be caught, the police can warn the public so as to stop any further victimization. You can even do this yourself if you’re on any form of social media. The quicker the word gets out, the lower the number of people that will be taken advantage of.
Protect yourself, your family and everything you’ve worked for by following these seven tips. Don’t let someone else enjoy your years of labor when that is what you should be doing.