How to spot an online scam? Being vigilant is key, but you need to know what to look out for.
Realising that you have wasted or, even worse, been conned out of your money is one of the worst feelings imaginable. The sense of embarrassment and shame when you have to tell your loved ones that you are unable to make that trip, or that you cannot afford to go out for that meal you planned a while ago is degrading.
The word scam is used to refer to a fraudulent or dishonest scheme, the sole purpose of which is to cheat the consumer. This can be by selling mislabelled products or misleading services, making investments or becoming concerned in apparently fail-safe business propositions. You can avoid the majority of scams if you remain vigilant, and know exactly what to look for. Be mindful that if a consumer has had bad experience with a business, they may try to deter people from utilising their services by spreading malicious rumours. The same with competitors, they also may try to discourage people from using other’s in their industry services by targeting them on the internet.
We’ve put together a simple checklist, with the help of Money Catch, to follow should you be concerned that you are at risk of being scammed.
- Was the offer unsolicited? With a claim of being specially selected are deceitful.
- Do you have to respond quickly? Demanding a fast response is often a sign that the business wants to make as much profit as possible before moving on to somewhere else.
- Do you have to ring a premium-rate number or a “one ring” phone scam? If so, it is highly probable that after making the phone call, you will never hear anything back.
- Are you being asked for your bank or credit card details? This should be an immediate warning sign. You should never give out your bank or credit card details over the phone.
- Is the business reluctant to give you its address or contact details? A secretive company is never a good sign. If they are not willing to share details other than email addresses, then stay well away.
- Are they asking for money upfront? Always be extremely sceptical before handing over money, and if in doubt, ask a family member or a close friend what they would do if they were in a similar situation.
- Is the email address a generic one or from a Gmail account when from a specific company or person? If an email is not directly addressed to you or you don’t know who the person is or what it’s related to, it’s probably a scam.