In the last six months I’ve had three clients (that I know of) that have been the target of financially-related scams. They have ranged from someone pretending to be a grandson that was in jail in New York and needed money wired to be bailed out, to a letter from Japan claiming that someone with my client’s namesake had died and they were trying to find the closest living descendent to claim the inheritance.
Regardless of the scam, the underlying goal often is not only to receive some type of payment and/or to gather personal and financial information in order to manipulate accounts at a later date. These criminals will stop at nothing to get what they want and will often prey on seniors.
The Better Business Bureau has a list of the top ten scams on its website.
The list of scams is ever-changing and the innovation and level of sophistication is astounding. It’s prudent to familiarize yourself with some of these common scams, but also to adhere to some principles when dealing with your finances and personal information. Below is a list from www.onguardonline.gov:
- Don’t send money to someone you don’t know.
- Don’t respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial information.
- Don’t play a foreign lottery.
- Keep in mind that wiring money is like sending cash: once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.
- Don’t agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money back.
- Read your bills and monthly statements regularly—on paper and online.
- In the wake of a natural disaster or another crisis, give to established charities rather than one that seems to have sprung up overnight
- Talk to your doctor before buying health products or signing up for medical treatments.
- When considering an investment, remember that there’s no such thing as a sure thing.
- Know where an offer comes from and who you’re dealing with.
The Federal Trade Commission’s website also has some helpful tips to help consumers and businesses minimize theft and resources for victims.