We’re always warning you about scammers trying to steal your money. One day, it’s an email from a Nigerian prince saying he has money for you; the next day it’s the IRS screaming that you are going to be arrested!
The point is that scammers are always changing. Once you’ve figured out their tricks, they adapt and change.
One thing that doesn’t change, though, is their motivation. Scammers are going to figure out how to get your money, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.
It’s important that you know what scams are out there and how to spot them. Here are three of the worst scams so far this year.
Jury Duty Scam
Scammers love to scare you. That’s why this scam is so effective.
They pretend that they’re from your local courthouse and say you’re going to be arrested for missing jury duty! Once you’re panicked, they ask you to confirm your identity with your Social Security number. They’ll steal your identity and use it to sign up for credit cards, apply for loans and possibly steal your tax refund.
What you need to know: Your court will not call you if you miss jury duty. They will most likely send you a follow-up letter. More importantly, they will never ask for your Social Security number. Hang up! Then, call your courthouse if you have any lingering concerns.
Your phone rings in the middle of the night. You panic! What happened? Who’s hurt?
Scammers are heartless. This scam is so effective because it plays into your worst fears. They’ll call you late at night and tell you that they’ve kidnapped your spouse, son, daughter or friend. They’ll give their name and perhaps some personal details about them.
Worse, they say your loved one will be dead in an hour if you don’t pay the ransom. A lot of bleary-eyed, panicked people comply.
What you need to know: Hang up on the caller and immediately call the person they said they kidnapped. If you can’t locate that person, call 911.
Spear Phishing Email
We’ve told you about phishing email scams. That’s when scammers send you emails that look like they’re from companies you trust, like Apple or PayPal.
They’ll include a link in the email. If you click on it, it takes you to a fraudulent but real-looking site where they ask you to input your personal information or credit card number.
Spear Phishing takes this scam one step further. It’s nasty. They send you an email that appears to be from a family member or friend. The scam works the same way, with the scammers asking you to click on a link.
What you need to know: Do not ever click on a link in an email unless you first confirm with the person sending it. Call them and ask them if they sent a link before you click on it.