Lately, we’ve become all too familiar with the term “identity theft”—it has become so easy for our money to disappear. It’s happening online, in stores, and in person. Try as we might, protecting our money has become much more difficult.
A lot of companies we deal with on a day to day basis request a lot of information, so it is hard to tell when our personal details are genuinely needed. Knowing a few of the red flags that identify the more common scams can help you differentiate, so read below!
Jason Hartman always says that if it is too good to be true, it probably is. Keep this in mind if you are browsing for a property to rent or buy. If a price is well below market, something is probably up. If the landlord in question claims to have moved elsewhere and asks that you wire funds, don’t believe them. A lot of scammers use other people’s listings, claim them as their own, offer and make leases, and collect deposits—all without owning the home.
If someone claims an association with Zillow or other real estate listing service, verify that they are actually working for or with that company. Be aware that companies like Zillow don’t offer money exchange services, so anyone claiming they do is fraudulent.
Requests for Money/Personal Information
If someone asks you to wire funds via MoneyGram or Western Union, think scam. You haven’t met the person, and there’s probably a reason they’re asking you to deal remotely. If you’re ever asked to provide a code sent by cell phone, be wary—you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
Similarly, don’t trust anyone who asks for bank accounts or social security numbers. Be sure to verify the reason for the request of this information—even if you’re someplace that you trust (like a doctor’s office). The less this information is exchanged, the better.
If someone’s appeal to you relies on your emotions, they’re probably playing you. Don’t trust everyone with a sob story, no matter how real it sounds. If you’re getting weird emails from friends or family that seem out of character and request money, they’ve probably been hacked. Emails with many typos tell a similar tale, so be careful.
If you’re able to confidently identify something as a scam, make sure you report it to the proper authorities. Many websites have a section to report fraudulent listings, etc, but you can also report scams to the FTC. Collect as much information as you can about the scam to ensure accuracy—and the safety of your fellow consumers. (photo credit: Jeff S. PhotoArt via photopin cc)