Scammers keep getting bolder and bolder with their extortion methods. From impersonating landlords to illegal debt collection tactics, there is no shortage of ways scammers will try to separate you from your money.1
Be aware of these five red flags when getting on the phone, checking your email, or using social media. This can help you avoid getting trapped in a conversation with a scammer in the first place.
Red Flag #1: They Make an Identity Claim
Many scammers are now utilizing strategies in which they claim to be trustworthy sources, such as a government agency or even your bank, to extract information from you. If you receive a strange call, text, or email with an unfamiliar hyperlink, this is a telltale sign that you are being scammed.2
Never click on mysterious hyperlinks or respond to uncertified messages asking for your personal information, especially if it involves money. For instance, many scammers claim to be government agencies providing updates on COVID-19 economic support. Do not blindly trust these claims.
Red Flag #2: They Need Your Personal Information Immediately
A scammer’s goal is to get your personal information as quickly as possible. Scammers prey on people’s fears. In addition to making a brazen identity claim, a scammer will often state that he or she needs information or money immediately, or something terrible will happen. Be aware of this behavior instead of allowing it to induce stress.
If you are already in contact with a potential scammer and start displaying doubts, a scammer may even get aggressive about needing your information. This is another sign that you are dealing with a scam. A genuine source will never require you to reveal personal information in this manner.3
Red Flag #3: You Must Wire Money
Once a scammer receives money from you, his or her goal is to disappear with it, becoming extremely difficult to track. If an entity is asking you to send money via a wire transfer or reload pack, this is likely a scam because these payment methods are tough to track.3
Moreover, if someone is requiring you to send money quickly in an unorthodox fashion, they are likely scammers.
Red Flag #4: The Scam Does Not Apply to You
This is one of the more obvious indications of a scam. For instance, a scammer may contact a teenager about car insurance when the teenager does not even own a car in his or her name. Nonetheless, the frightening and urgent language of the call could get them stuck in an uncomfortable conversation with someone who is likely a scammer.
If somebody approaches or calls you with an offer or issue that clearly does not apply to you, get out of the situation as quickly as possible.
Red Flag #5: It Is Too Good to Be True
Getting an excellent deal is often a sign that it may be a scam. A scammer will promise you something that seems far too good to be true to draw you in. Even if a scammer’s website seems extremely official, or a scammer approaches you in person, looking very professional, that is often a front to gain trust.
This is one of the easiest ways to get scammed, and it can happen in almost any area of business. Always stay wary of untrustworthy sources, and if you seem to be getting too good of a deal on insurance or even something as big as an apartment rental or car, do more research on the identity of the source.
It's safe to say that all of us have been targeted in a scam in one way or another. Whether it be financially, or spiritually. Just like scammers trying to separate you from your money, the enemy is the ultimate scammer who will attempt to steal anything he can from you. He will try to scam you not only out of your finances, but also your joy. The good news is that we can be prepared for these fraudulent attacks when they come.
John 10:10 (NLT) says "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy." That would be pretty disparaging news if that was the way things ended. But we must read on..."My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." Read that again. How drastically that verse changed! We can hold onto this with full certainty knowing his promises never fail! (Joshua 21:46) Many things in life can be hard to distinguish as real or fraud, but this is a promise we know is authentic from the most trustworthy source of all.
Because of this, not only can we be aware of the enemy's deception tactics, but we also can know that his purpose will always fail in the light of Jesus. When the next time comes that we are targeted for a scam, we can be on guard and well equipped to not fall into it.
Evergreen Financial Group is a Fee-Only Financial Planning and Investment Firm located in Billings, MT serving clients in Montana, Wyoming and virtually across the country. Evergreen Financial Group specializes in working with Christian families, including young professionals, Current and Future Retirees and Church Staff Members.
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