Scammers are more sophisticated than ever. The FTC reported that Americans lost about $1.48 billion to scammers in 2018 alone. Scam phone calls are so commonplace, that many of us do not even answer the phone if we do not know the number (good advice!).
While there are a lot of scams targeting seniors, younger adults get tons of these scam calls and emails as well. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs of a scam, because once that money is gone, you cannot get it back. News outlets and the FTC often report the latest scams, but unfortunately, as soon as one scam is identified, three more pop up in its place.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? Education is the key.
You need to know the signs of scams, and the most common and popular scams going around. Even if you never get scammed, you can share this information with your friends and family to make sure that they are aware as well.
Here are some free videos and presentations you can use to educate yourself:
AARP has a great series of video presentations on common scams and how to spot them. The 30-minute videos are in the style of a news story, featuring discussions from experts from the FTC, FCC, and AARP. If you watch the upcoming videos live, you can even submit questions to the presenters in real time. Watch the videos here.
California Elder Justice Coalition has their first video up in a planned series called Awareness Snapshots. These short, ten-minute videos provide good information on specific scams to watch out for. The first one is about investment scams. Watch it here.
Western Union has a whole page with scam resources, but their videos are a great way to get a very quick overview of common scams. These animated videos are 1-2 minutes long, and warn against romance scams, grandparent scams, lottery scams, and several others. Check out their videos here.
There are lots of free resources about scams and how to protect yourself — not just videos. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a lot of resources on how to protect yourself and what to do if you are a victim of a scam. The Federal Trade Commission is the place to report scams, but it is also a great resource center. The Federal Communications Commission also has several guides on scams to watch out for.
CCSLS’s Top Five Signs of a Scam
- Secrecy. Whether pretending to be a grandchild who claims it will be embarrassing for them to tell their parents they need money, or an investor who ensures you that your family will be thrilled by the amazing amount of money you’re about to get, scammers often ask you to keep it “just between us.” If you’re making a big financial decision, tell someone about it!
- You have to pay money to get money. If you have won a sweepstakes, you do not have to pay “taxes” or “fees” in advance. If you have to pay, it’s a scam.
- Threats to put you in jail. If they tell you that there will be a “warrant for your arrest” if you do not pay, it is a scam.
- Pressure to pay today or the offer ends. Any legitimate company will give you an offer that lasts more than one day.
- Something feels off. Trust your gut. And remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is!
Scammed? We can help.
Depending on the situation, we may not be able to get your money back. However, we can help you check your credit reports, report the scam to the FTC and FBI, and provide guidance on your next steps. Even if you are embarrassed, it is very important to report because because every report helps law enforcement go after the scammers. Call us for details.