Check out this semi-official looking letter I received from a scammer.
I see where there are a lot of consumer complaints of getting ripped off. I started to toss this, but then thought it might be a good reminder for all of us to resist the temptations of well crafted scams. Of course, this isn’t well crafted, but there are many that are.
The first rule of avoiding scams is: No company wants to give something away without an expectation of gain. Companies do offer giveaways, but these are always tied to publicity. They figure the cost of the prize is worth the buzz of excitement when customers come to their site to give their email addresses, phone numbers, or share the news with their social networks. This gives them free publicity or it expands their marketing lists for others who can be emailed or called later.
No one wins a contest without entering. Companies don’t comb through the phone book to look for someone at random and offer them a free prize with no strings attached. Here are a few more scams that people fall for that simply amazes me.
King Eddie from the Republic Zandazina Coganisia has gone into exile. He is trying to smuggle money out of the country and found someone who has the exact same name – yep, it’s me. Eddie Snipes has such a strong African ring to it, I should have known that I had royal ancestors in that country. All I have to do is give my bank account and he’ll wire millions to me. For my troubles, I can keep 10%. Either that, or he’ll just take 100% of my account for being stupid enough to give him my bank account.
I’ve also won the European lottery, British Lottery, and Irish lottery. Multiple times. This is impressive since I’ve never played the lottery. Call 1-800-GULLIBLE to claim your winnings.
The FBI asset recovery division has millions waiting for me to claim what some drug dealing relative has left behind.
Scams go on and on. Some are very creative. Some look like official emails from your bank warning you that someone has tried to rip you off. Now you need to click this link to verify your info and prove you are the owner. Of course, you are clicking on a link that is designed to capture your information.
Another one that floats around is Gerber’s desire to give their money to your baby’s college fund. All you need to do is provide your child’s date of birth, full name, and Social Security Number. Can you say, “Identity theft?”
The scam I received today was supposedly from US Airlines – a bogus company. Out of the goodness of their heart, they randomly found a citizen that they could give $1,350 worth of flight vouchers to. Other than the obvious – no company is itching to give away $1360 dollars, there are a few clues that show this to be a scam.
No address. No official company letterhead would fail to have a return address on the envelope and a corporate address on the letter. The letter has grammar problems and does not use accepted corporate styles – i.e., companies don’t use ‘th’ after the date numbers. There is no fine print or disclosures that are required by law. The letter gave no reference to any contest I entered or how they selected me. There are other issues, but you get the point.
The bottom line is, don’t respond. If you email back, you confirm your email as valid. If you call, they will record your phone number and try to capture personal info or sell you something.
Scams are designed to sound appealing. They will create fear in order to get a knee-jerk response, or greed to make you want what is being offered. You’ll be offered an iPad, latest phone, money, trips, or other winnings. Anytime someone asks for personal info or they require you to pay upfront, terminate communication immediately. No company will send you a legal notice by email. No legitimate company will call you to ask for PINs or account numbers. If you are in doubt, ask for a call back number and verify who you are talking to. Call your company and verify the number you have been given.
Finally, never buy a high priced item online for impossible discounts. I’ve seen people reposting this on Facebook: This company made a mistake and I bought an iPad for $49 dollars. Act fast before they fix it.
Facebook is a scammer’s paradise. Many links on the side or posts by friends take you to sites where you are fooled into logging in and providing your email address or Facebook account to a third party. A friend signed up for information on how to get free grant money. All they had to pay was shipping. Within a few days, five or six charges showed up on their credit card from various daughter companies. It took weeks to stop the charges from coming in.
One recent scam a family member connected to gave access to invite friends to join their ‘community’ through your email. It was made to look official and all you had to do was log into your email. But you are authorizing your account to this ‘community’ and now they will spam your friends with your email.
Use caution and be suspicious of everything online – unless you are certain you are dealing with a reputable company. Don’t be scammed.
Eddie Snipes 2013