Protect Yourself: Watch Out for These Common Scams

Posted on January 31, 2019

man in mask using laptop

It’s a sad state of affairs when everyday people need to worry about being scammed or conned out of their money. But the truth is, scams are everywhere. There are a lot of unsavory characters looking to steal your identity and separate you from your hard-earned money.

Everyone needs to understand what scams are out there and how to protect themselves from getting taken advantage of and losing their money - or their identity. Learn about these common scams and how you can protect yourself from them.

419 Fraud - or the Nigerian Prince Scam

You may have seen reports of people being emailed by a “Nigerian prince” offering something that sounds too good to be true: millions of dollars for doing something very simple.

It goes something like this: a person gets an email one day from Nigeria, or some other distant country. The person sending the email often claims to be royalty, or a government official. They have a large sum of money that they can’t get out of the country without your help. If you’ll assist them, they’ll pay you handsomely.

If you fall for it and start to work with them, then they’ll eventually start saying that in order to get the money out, you’ll have to pay taxes, or a fee, or a bribe to government officials. Something will go wrong that your money is needed to fix. It’s usually a relatively small amount, especially when compared to the millions you’ll get.

But over time, you’ll realize that your bank account has been drained - or you wise up and cut off all contact. You’ll never receive that money, and the scammers will disappear forever.

The gist of the Nigerian scam is this: someone promises a large sum of money if you help them move the money from point A to point B. You may have to pay a little here and there to make it happen, but what’s a few thousand dollars versus millions?

If you get an email that sounds anything like that, it’s a scam - and you should delete it.

The Lottery Scam

We all want to win the lottery, so when we get an email saying we’ve done exactly that, we can’t help but get excited.

The email tells us that we won the lottery, or we were chosen as winners in a drawing (even if you never bought a ticket or entered into the drawing). All you have to do to claim your prize is to provide personal information, or perhaps send a little money to cover any expenses associated with the lottery.

Of course, there was never a lottery or a drawing. You’ll give them money - or worse, your banking information - and you’ll get nothing in return. It preys on our desire to obtain money, especially for not doing anything at all, which is why it works so well.

The IRS Scam

No one wants to mess with the IRS. So when we get a letter, phone call, or email from someone claiming to be the IRS, we tend to pay attention.

There are a few types of scams from scammers pretending to be associated with the IRS. One of the older types is a letter, email, or phone call threatening the recipient with legal action stemming from a tax audit unless they pay a fine. Or, they declare they’re auditing your account and need your personal information - like your Social Security number - to complete the audit.

More sophisticated versions send you an email from the IRS containing a document called a “tax transcript.” Once you open the document, your computer becomes infected with malware that can wreak havoc on your system and accounts.

The IRS will never request personal or financial information from you via text, social media, or by email. And they’ll only call after you’ve already received notices from the IRS through the mail.

Visit this page to learn how you can tell if the person trying to contact you is actually from the IRS.

Scams abound. You have to be vigilant to protect yourself from financial ruin by those willing to do anything to cheat and swindle you out of your money.

Visit our Information Security page, or contact us to learn more about how we can help secure banking.