By Dylan Bartlett
When you enter adulthood, there are many life lessons you’ll learn along the way. It’s impossible to know how to handle every situation without living through a few first. That’s why so many people of all ages fall for scams every day.
Scammers take advantage of people to make a profit. Some may prey on specific age groups, but everyone is at risk of falling for a scam even if you’ve never experienced it before. There are many ways for scammers to steal personal information or money — so how can you know when something’s a real emergency and when it’s not?
Check out these seven common scams and easy ways to avoid them. Once you learn about some of the most frequent ways scammers approach people, you can identify common patterns and spot them in new future scams that come your way.
1. Phony Credit Card Fraud Calls
Credit cards can be a great resource or a burden on people, depending on how you handle your money. Either way, they’re always a high-stakes financial resource. Whenever you use a credit card, it affects your credit score and your future finances. Purchases can also leave you with high monthly bills.
The chance of paying more in interest or tanking their credit score makes people panic when something potentially goes wrong with their credit card. Scammers engage that fear to get people to do things they may not do otherwise.
You could get a call from someone pretending to work for your credit card issuer. They’ll let you know they’ve spotted a strange purchase and need your three-digit credit card code or billing ZIP code to verify it. Your credit card company will never call and ask for your personal information. Always call your issuer to confirm that they’ve reached out to you if you have any questions.
2. Free Prizes for Seniors
Anyone older than 50 typically has a savings account they’ve built over the last few decades. It’s their nest egg that cushions their retirement life, which scammers would love to have for themselves.
Seniors may receive a phone call offering a free prize if they hand over credit card or bank account information. This is also known as “telemarketing fraud,” which you can avoid using simple tips like researching the company or checking with your local law enforcement agencies.
3. Counterfeit Prescription Medications
Sometimes people receive counterfeit prescription medications without realizing it. A thief may steal the medication delivery sitting outside your front door to sell it for a profit.
Drug addicts may also work in pharmacies, where they can switch out drugs with no one noticing. Keep an eye out for any changes in your regular medication.
Check the packaging, notice any strange odors and call your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns.
4. Low Garage Repair Prices
Criminals looking for an easy way to break into homes may pose as garage door installers or maintenance specialists. They could call your home and offer extremely low repair prices or post an ad about it online.
When you enlist their services, they charge extra last-minute fees and demand payment before any work begins. If you pay, they could leave with your passcode information and come back later to grab valuable belongings they spotted during their visit. An easy way to stay aware of garage door scams is to compare costs.
See if any legitimate businesses in town have competitive rates or coupons. If the prices are significantly higher for local maintenance specialists, you may be interacting with online or telephone scammers.
5. Pyramid Scheme Businesses
Sometimes it’s tricky to identify pyramid schemes as scams, but they definitely qualify. You may get an invite from a friend who sells products from their home.
They want you to join their team and make money just like them. Although you trust your friend and have watched their business flourish, they’re most likely part of a pyramid scheme. Also known as “multi-level marketing” companies, these businesses require people to buy into the company by purchasing products and selling them for a profit.
A standard job wouldn’t make someone pay to get hired, so that’s the first sign you should recognize to prevent yourself from getting wrapped up in a scam.
Verify What You Can
Some scams are easier to identify than others. Giving out your Social Security number on the phone could give you red flags, but watching a friend take a vacation using their work-at-home business profits may not.
Always do your research and verify everything you can to avoid common scams when they come your way.