Don’t let scammers make an ‘April fool’ out of you

APRIL FOOLSEver had the wool pulled over your eyes or taken a wooden nickel? It can happen to the best of us, but with a little knowledge and a bit more caution, you can avoid becoming a scam artist’s next “April fool.”

The scammer might try to get you with a phishing email asking you to click on a link; a phone call telling you your computer has been compromised; or he might show up at your door, claiming to be a contractor ready to trim your trees or pave your driveway. These clever cons make it very difficult to discover if they are who they say they are.

April Fool’s Day is a chance for BBB to remind you about the  scam artists who will try to cheat you out of your hard-earned money. While the details of modern scams are constantly changing, the characteristics of a scam victim are pretty constant. Understanding what scam victims have in common can help you avoid becoming the subject of an April fool’s prank and falling for the next scam that comes your way.

Many times con artists will try and build your trust through emotion, or by offering something that seems too good to be true (because most often it is). Sometimes scammers focus their efforts on the most vulnerable and trusting, because they know they will be able to gain that trust quicker with less effort. However, with technology today, we’re all vulnerable.

Here’s what many scam victims have in common:

  • They take someone at their word. They don’t do their homework, ask questions or check with BBB.
  • They let themselves get emotional.  They are often times motivated by fear, greed, romance or excitement.
  • They don’t recognize common persuasion tactics. Whether it’s stroking the ego, making false promises or putting on the pressure, scammers are great liars. Don’t fall for their stories, get the facts at checkbbb.org.
  • They act impulsively.  They download files, click on pop-up ads, sign-up for trial offers and open emails from unknown senders.
  • They are afraid of being rude. They don’t want to hang up the phone or shut the door.
  • They don’t protect their personal information. They don’t shred documents or keep things locked up. They use the same password for every account.
  • They live alone or are isolated in some way.
  • They are worried about money.  They may have recently lost their job or have increased debt.
  • They don’t read the fine print. Perhaps they left their reading glasses at home.
  • They want so much to believe the lie that they hush the logical “voice of reason” inside them.
  • They rush into decisions.  
  • They are embarrassed.  They won’t tell anyone about being scammed so the scam (and the scammers) continue.

Consumers can avoid the most common scams by:

  • Research before you buy or sign a contract at bbb.org/central-texas.
  • Never wire money, especially to an organization or someone you don’t know.
  • Never pay money in advance for major repair work or for job applications.
  • Use a credit or debit card instead of cash as these offer more protection.
  • Never click on links or open emails from people you don’t know.
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