What is a scam & how do I spot one?

What is a scam? We’ve all heard someone say they have been scammed or believed someone was trying to scam them. But what does that mean?

ID-100215081A scam is defined as a dishonest scheme or fraud. Essentially, someone trying to rip you off by lying to you. So, how do you spot one? It’s easy to think, “Wow I would never fall for that”, until you’ve been put in the position many victims have faced.

Scammers routinely pray on our fears in order to believe their schemes. Typically, all scams will have these similar traits:

  • Fear
  • The need to act quickly
  • Some type of money wiring
  • An attempt to seem credible

Here’s a look at some of the more popular scam and a breakdown of how they work.

Rental Scams

Whether you are looking for a cheap place to stay during SXSW or during vacation, renting out a property can be a hassle.

Finding the perfect place is a lot easier thanks to online websites like Craigslist and Airbnb, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t be scammed.

Scammers list fraudulent ads on the popular websites and copy legitimate posting that are selling properties and then re-listing the properties as “for rent”. Some scammers will promise the consumer they can move right away without a credit check.

All you will have to do is send a deposit via money wire and the house keys would be mailed back.

Red flags for this scam include:

  • Request to send money via money-wire
  • No photos of the property
  • You can’t inspect the property prior
  • Low rent
  • The owner is out of the country or state

Lottery & Sweepstakes Scams

These types of scams play on your belief that you’re a lucky winner. In fact, the chances of winning the lottery or a sweepstakes is slim to none.

Many times the contest letter or caller will explain that in order to collect your winnings, you first have to send a small upfront fee to pay for processing or taxes. Following these instructions, victims wire the money or use a prepaid debit card but never receive their “winnings.”

Scam artists use the promise of prizes and large cash winnings to steal from honest people. Victims often get unsolicited phone calls, emails or letters notifying them that they have won a large sum of money or a prize.

Think of these tips when you receive a out of blue “winning call”

  • You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
  • You are required to give out your personal information
  • You have to pay to win