Are you vulnerable to scams? And how do we avoid financial scams? Financial expert Sharon Masler tells us.
Financial scams are everywhere. They can be in the form of fake emails and texts asking you to click on a link. It can be on Facebook Messenger asking you to send money to a friend in need, or someone posing as an admirer, threatening voice calls saying you owe the IRS, scary letters or even someone showing up at your house unannounced.
The most common victims of these scams are seniors, immigrants, and students. There can be different types of scams: Covid 19 scams, banking scams, telephone scams, census-related fraud, investment scams, government grant scams, lottery scams, charity scams, pyramid and ponzi schemes, identity theft and ticket scams.
Even during the pandemic, scammers are around calling, emailing or texting people offering certain promotions or benefits that can be attractive to anyone.
Telephone scammers are all about stealing money and personal information. They pretend to be someone who invites you to invest your money, receive trial products, or free grants. These include calls from people pretending they are the IRS saying you owe money and threatening you of jail time or lawsuit.
Charity scammers take advantage of people’s kindness and generosity. They pose as charity representatives and will try to get your personal information for a so – called donation. This usually happens during a time of disasters and tragedies.
These bank scammers will attempt to log into your bank account.
These hackers will send you a legitimate looking email asking you to click a link that will eventually allow them to hack your contacts and system.
These investment scammers will promise you big returns on your investment. They are very savvy in making everything look legitimate with big believable presentations and they can be in the US and other countries.
Social media scams
These social media scammers will pretend to be you on Facebook messaging all your friends asking for money.
Senior citizens love scams
These senior citizen love scams will prey on the seniors and pretend that they are interested in them, getting their attention, giving them praises until the seniors fall into the trap and give their bank information when these so-called admirers ask for money.
Whatever scam it may be, your clue is whenever someone asks for your personal information, unless they are from legitimate institutions, you have to be extra careful.
Tips to avoid financial scams:
1. Do not readily or quickly give out your social security information. If you are a sole proprietor business, apply for a Taxpayer ID number (TIN) with the IRS at www.irs.gov so that when clients or vendors ask for your business ID, you are giving out the TIN and not your social security number.
2. The IRS will never call to threaten you so that should be a big warning sign to watch out for. Initial conversations with the IRS will always be through physical mail not phone calls or emails. So never entertain any IRS email or phone call unless you get contacted through physical mail first.
3. If in doubt, never give out your banking information, home address, or credit card information to strangers.
4. Watch out for initial deposit requirements for investments. We have seen clients losing millions of dollars who fell into these investment traps.
5. Be careful about these government grant scammers, they will pretend to give you a grant but will ask for your bank information to “deposit” the grant. Never give out your bank information unless you have verified the source of the grant.
6. When in doubt, never click on an email link. You might just allow these hackers to get into your private system and hack your contacts.