Scammers are getting incredibly sophisticated. Currently, one big way that people are trying to scam victims out of their money is by impersonation scams – pretending to be someone else in order to gain your trust and get you to share sensitive information or send money. Here are four ways to spot an impersonator scammer.
Are they threatening immediate action?
One way to spot an impersonator scammer is to look at whether or not they’re requiring you to act immediately. Did you get an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from your electric company saying that your account is overdue and you need to pay while on the phone with them or you will have your power shut off?
That isn’t how companies work. Yes, if your account is overdue, you may get a phone call from them, but they won’t demand you pay right away on the phone. A safer way to handle this would be to hang up and call the company back, not at the number from which they called you, but going online or to a recent bill and looking up their phone number. You can also check your online account to see if you actually owe money.
Are you being asked to send a gift card?
One of the ways to spot an impersonator scammer is when they’re trying to get you to send them gift card codes. No bill needs to be paid using a gift card code. Your grandchild isn’t calling you telling you they need you to give them money via gift card (more on that later). Gift cards are easy for scammers to accept because they’re untraceable. Once they have that code information, they’ve got your money and you aren’t going to get it back.
Are they claiming to be someone you know?
Did you get a call from someone who claims to be your friend or child or grandchild but they just don’t sound right? And their excuse is that they’re overseas or they have a bad connection, but the important thing is that they’re in a bad place and need you to send money immediately? Definitely be suspicious. When you think a loved one is in trouble, it’s easy to immediately worry and think you should give the money. Try to figure out if the person is who they say they are (they probably aren’t). Ask them questions that they should know the answer to, but that the general person wouldn’t know. Silly things, like what color is their bedroom carpet, or what was their favorite toy as a kid, or what was the name of the neighbor’s dog?
Watch out for romance scams
Don’t forget the impersonator scammers that do romance scams – pretending to be romantically interested in you, but completely unable to video chat and sometimes not even able to talk on the phone. Don’t send money to these people. Just don’t. Some of these scams can get incredibly detailed and it is understandable how people get sucked in, especially during the pandemic when so many people were stuck at home and missing human connection. If someone can never video chat with you, absolutely be suspicious.
- Five Obvious Signs of a Romance Scam
- 5 Tips To Protect Older Relatives From Online Scams
- Three Funniest Scams that are Too Obvious To Fall For
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.