According to a recent Better Business Bureau (BBB) report, scams impact one in four households and one in five individuals each year, with more than 32,000 scams reported to the BBB in 2016 alone.
Verve wants to help our members stay financially fit, which is why we’re committed to sharing the latest financial scams, as well as stats about the most common scams to help you stay informed about potential financial risks.
Check out the Top 10 Riskiest Scams from the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker 2016 Annual Risk Report.
- Home Improvement. These scams typically involve a seemingly friendly owner or salesperson for a local home improvement company dropping by with a too-good-to-refuse deal. While the deal for getting your driveway sealed, roof repaired, etc. may seem great, do your research before signing a check by doing a quick Google search to read reviews, or checking the BBB’s website for a company rating. In some cases, the service is completed, but is done poorly, and homeowners are unable to reach the company and left footing the bill on additional expenses.
- Fake Check/Money Order. From travel sites to popular buy, sell, trade sites, buyers write a check out for an amount higher than the purchase price and ask the seller to send the excess back to the scammer. Unfortunately, the seller’s money is lost when the he attempts to cash the (excessive amount) check from the “buyer” only to have it bounce. Plus, in some cases, sellers have already sent the item and the check for the difference (excess) to the buyer, losing out twice in the same transaction.
- Fake employers will post work-from-home job opportunities for typing, stuffing envelopes, mystery shopping, etc. and ask for an application fee and then stop communicating with the applicant. Sometimes they also send a check in excess of the advertised pay and ask the employee to wire the extra funds back to them, similar to the fake check/money order scam above.
- Online Purchases. Sometimes fraudsters will charge online shoppers for products and then never deliver them. Other times, you’ll receive confirmation emails for something you never bought, which is how scammers collect your credit card information and rack up charges. If you receive a confirmation email for a product or service you never purchased, DO NOT click on the link and enter your information. Instead, go directly to that website or call the company to report the scam.
- Advance Fee Loan. In this scam, fraudsters target people seeking short-term loans to pay bills. The scammers ask for an application fee, then an insurance fee, and fee after fee adds up, but no loan is ever dispersed. If you are struggling to make ends meet, please call us at 800.448.9228 so we can review your account and help you as best we can.
- Investors are asked to deposit $500 with a promise that they’ll see their money grow by 18% within a matter of days. The downside is when investors try to withdraw the money, their account shows the transaction as pending for weeks. Always do your research by checking out Google reviews, or calling your financial advisor to see if the investment opportunity is legit.
- Romance Websites. Online dating scams often involve a love-interest who is never available for a video or in-person meeting and suddenly has family, medical and work emergencies pop up and asks for a loan. You wouldn’t loan money to a stranger, so take the time to meet your love interest in person before making a decision to help them financially.
- Tech Support. This tech scam involves a pop-up screen with a message that says your computer is infected. The pop-up typically won’t let you close it and includes a phone number to call to fix the problem. The downside is the fake tech team asks for a credit card number and charges for their “services.” Rather than entrust your computer’s health to some tech company you don’t know, give your tech support (be it your grandson, neighbor or local tech company) a call for advice on what you should do next.
- Family/Friend Emergency. Fraudsters pose as your family members in dire situations (like your nephew being locked in a holding cell in Mexico) and ask you to wire money to get them out. While the emergency may sound very real (and urgent!), ask for your family member’s location, processing number and ask the local authorities to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Tell them you need make a few phone calls (to other family members, an attorney, etc.), and ask for a phone number you can reach them at.
- Sweepstakes/Lottery/Prizes. In this scam, people receive phone calls or emails letting them know they’ve won a big prize, but first they need to pay a fee or taxes upfront to claim the prize. If the prize sounds too good to be true (and they’re asking for money to claim your winnings), take time to check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website to see if others have reported similar scams.
Take a moment to think (and do some research) before you commit to anything.
Be it an out-of-the-blue job offer, prize or investment opportunity, any time you are asked to make an immediate decision, ask for the caller’s name, company and callback number and let them know you need to talk it through with your family, do some online research and meet with a financial advisor first.
It’s Verve’s goal—in line with our guiding 7 Cooperative Principles—to provide education, training and information to help our members stay financially fit. Verve is committed to keeping our members educated when it comes to their finances by providing details on financial risks and ways to stay safe. Help your friends and family stay safe against these scams by sharing this blog post.