We all want the free car, the complimentary dream vacation, or the gratis golf clubs. But, as the saying goes, there’s no free lunch. And there’s most definitely no free washer and dryer. So, when you answer the phone and someone is telling you congrats, it’s yours for just covering the shipping charges – it’s probably a phone scam.
We all say we’ll never fall for it. But many of us do. Scammers know how to talk and how to persuade. They know how to tell us what we want to hear. But once you send in that shipping fee, they’re nowhere to be found. And neither is your money.
First of all, know this: no legitimate sweepstakes or lottery will ask you to send money upfront to claim a prize. If the person on the other end of the phone asks for a credit card number to verify your identity or any reason, hang up.
The Fake Check
If you’re selling an item, say on Craigslist, look out for a fake check scam. It goes like this: a crook calls to buy your, let’s say furniture, but wants to write you a check for more than the furniture requesting that you deposit the check in your bank and wire the extra $100 back to the scammer. Fast forward to the bank calling saying the check is fake. The lesson: never wire money to someone you don’t know, for whatever reason.
Phishing scams don’t just happen on the internet. You can receive phone calls from someone claiming to be a company representative, credit card company or phone company. They may ask for your bank account number or PIN. Don’t provide this information. Ever. They’ll use it to empty your bank accounts or run up fraudulent purchases on your card. It seems elementary, but people fall for it every day. Your real bank or credit card company will never ask for this information – they already have it on file. You can always call your company to double-check if there’s a problem.
This one doesn’t even have a live caller on the other end of your phone. Instead, an automated message (or robo-dialer) will click on when you answer the phone. The message will tell you that the warranty on your car is expiring. After the recording ends and you haven’t hung up, a live operator comes on the line and requests payment for a new warranty. Again, it’s a scam and you’ll be out a warranty and your money.
If you get a phone call about some great deal, make them prove they’re legit. Ask for paperwork explaining the policies before you make any payments. Most times, they’ll hang up and you won’t see any paperwork.
Make sure you never feel pressured to make a quick decision. Always ask for paperwork or documentation before sending money. Never give out your credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers to a telemarketer who has called you. And never pay for what is being touted as a “gift.”
For further protection, sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. Registering should prevent most unwanted calls from reaching you. And if you think that you’ve fallen for a scam, even if you’ve already sent money, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP.
© Fintactix, LLC 2022