Online scams come in all shapes and sizes. From popups to emails all the way to social media, scammers don’t discriminate. It’s extremely important that you understand the warning signs of an online scam.
You’re asked to wire money.
Scammers like wire transfers for the same reason you do — because it’s fast and efficient. If someone is asking you to wire them money, especially if this person approached you through social media or other unprofessional means, it is a scam. Never engage with anyone who asks you to send them a wire transfer.
Additionally, if someone asks for your payment information upfront before giving you any details about their offer, this is a major red flag. Instead of asking for your money before giving you any information about their investment opportunity, they should be able to give at least some details about how their program works and what it offers before asking for your personal information.
The deal is too good to be true.
Promises of high profits or a quick return on investment. If the deal they’re making sounds too good to be true, it probably is. They may promise high profits or a quick return on investment, but in reality, they can’t guarantee this any more than an actual company could. Be wary of supposed “get rich quick” schemes that offer little or no risk.
The site has no address, phone number, or contact information.
If the site has no address, phone number, or contact information, this is a likely indicator of an online scam. Scammers don’t care if their fake business has a real address or contact information, as long as they can perpetuate the scam.
You’re asked to pay with gift cards.
If you’re asked to pay in gift cards, this is a huge red flag of an online scam. Gift cards are very frequently used in online scams. The reason is that once someone redeems the gift card and the money’s gone, it’s almost impossible to get it back. If you pay with cash or a credit card and don’t receive what was promised, you can dispute the purchase with your credit card company or bank. When you pay with a gift card, that isn’t an option.
You receive an unsolicited email, text, or pop-up message that looks like it’s from a company you trust.
The request comes out of the blue. Someone you don’t know contacts you and asks for your help. If it’s an email, it might come with an official-looking logo and an urgent request to click on a link or open an attachment. If it’s a phone call, the person on the other end might claim to be from a government agency or some other authority figure looking for information or help with something important — but only if you act immediately.
There are typos, poor grammar, spelling mistakes, or other red flags on the site.
Scammers may be quick to respond to your initial inquiry, but if you ask questions about the product or service they’re selling, they’ll often have little or no information to give. That’s because they’re just trying to rip off as many people as possible in a short amount of time, and that requires responding quickly. As a result, their responses will often contain grammatical errors and other clues that something isn’t right.
The site asks you to download something.
If the site asks you to download something or attempts an automatic download without properly explaining what you are downloading, they may be attempting to infiltrate your computer systems with malware. Do not download anything you are unsure about.
You don’t remember visiting the site, but there’s a charge on your credit card or bank statement.
If you don’t remember visiting the site, but there’s a charge on your credit card or bank statement, this may be a sign of an online scam that is affecting your card. You should also check your credit report regularly for unauthorized charges so that you can dispute them before they affect your score.
The site looks “off,” especially if it’s a known brand or company.
You don’t recognize the website. If the site looks “off,” especially if it’s a known brand or company, it could be a sign of an online scam. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated with website cloning in an attempt to steal private login information. If the site doesn’t have HTTPS encryption, do not input any information.
A trusted business is asking for information they should already have (like your account number).
If a trusted business is asking for information they should already have (like your account number), this is a red flag. Scammers often send out emails and text messages pretending to be big banks stating that your account was compromised. In the message will be a link that will take you to a fake website or cloned website to steal your information. If you have concerns about your bank charges, contact your bank directly, do not click any links.
Scammers are using a variety of methods to reach their victims. However, online scams have some common threads: the use of precise, personalized language and threats that play on your emotions. Whether you’re looking to buy a new car, meet up with someone online or purchase an item over the internet, these warning signs and prevention steps will help you steer clear of online scams.