Ever since the Internet became a playground for the world’s most clever scam artists, knowing how to stay safe online has become an essential life skill. However, there is still plenty of fraudulent activity going on outside of your spam folder, so be on guard and check your credit report.
The five current non-Internet scams described below claim new victims every day, but you don’t have to be one of them.
Credit Card Skimmers
Skimmers are electronic instruments attached to retail credit card scanning devices. Fraudsters usually place them temporarily and retrieve them after several people have used the scanner. They are found at ATMs, grocery checkouts, gas stations and almost anywhere you can scan your own card. The skimmers illegally record your credit or debit card numbers and transfer them to gift cards that are then used to purchase items sold for cash. One way to spot skimmers at a gas station or retail store is to look closely at the card readers attached to the store’s other pumps or registers. If yours looks different from the others, pay with cash.
Home Improvement Scams
If you’re a homeowner who knows little about repairs, you can easily become a victim of fake contractors. The con artist will knock on your door and claim to have noticed a problem with your house. They’ll offer you a great deal on repairs, take your money and either pretend to fix your house or simply disappear. Your best defense against these scammers is to check their referrals, and verify that they’re legitimately licensed before agreeing to do business with them.
Fake Employment Recruiters
If you’re unemployed, you’re an easy target for scammers posing as job recruiters. They typically conduct their activity over the telephone. After promising you a great job or education opportunity and obtaining your personal information, they ask you to pay a fee for background checks, drug testing or study materials. Once they have your money, you’ll never hear from them again. If you receive an employment offer over the phone, ask for details in writing.
The Sucker List Scam
The “sucker list scam” targets individuals who have fallen for scams in the past. If you’ve responded to a scam through email, phone or snail mail, your name may be on a list that fraudsters sell to other con artists. One of them may call you and offer to help you recoup money you’ve lost by falling for a previous scam. The caller will then obtain your personal details or ask you to pay a fee for his or her services, which don’t exist. To avoid being fooled twice, never give out sensitive information or pay supposed fees over the phone.
Magazine Sales Scams
It begins with a knock on your door. A seemingly innocent young adult wants to sell you discounted magazine subscriptions to help raise money for a school, a charity or some other worthy cause. You’ll sign up and pay, but you’ll never receive anything in return. If you genuinely want to help a young salesperson’s cause, ask for contact information, so you can contribute directly to the organization itself after checking out its background.