One of the realities of living in an age where it’s possible to receive and send money quickly and easily, as well as providing opportunities to work from home, is that there are numerous scams out there aimed at separating you from your hard-earned cash. Scams surround us every day, and many of them are so clever and high-tech that it seems truly legitimate.
However, you need to be on your toes at all times, and in tune to the reality that not everyone is ready to give you a good opportunity. Instead, be on the lookout for scams at all times. In order to help you keep on top of the situation, Canada’s Competition Bureau has released The Little Black Book of Scams [PDF].
Top 12 Scams Affecting Canadians
The Little Black Book of Scams provides you with great insight into the scams you have to watch out for. There are a number of reasons that people fall for scams, whether it’s love, money, or just the wish that something could be true. You need to be on the alert if you don’t want to be taken in by these scams, detailed in The Little Black Book of Scams:
- Lotteries, Sweepstakes and Contests: Did you get an email proclaiming that you won a huge lottery prize, or a contest? This stuff doesn’t just happen out of the blue; chances are that someone is trying to get their hands on your bank account information. From online pop-ups proclaiming you won a sweepstakes, or emails insisting that you’ve won the lottery, stay away.
- Pyramid Schemes: First of all, understand that pyramid schemes aren’t just risky — they’re illegal as well. The pyramid scheme works when you “invest” a large amount of money in some sort of money-making venture. You are supposed to encourage others to join as well. The person at the top makes a lot of money, while those at the bottom are left with nothing. Watch out especially because your own unsuspecting friends and relatives might try to cut you in on it.
- Money Transfer Requests: All you have to do is help someone transfer their funds, and you get a nice, big cut of it. Unfortunately, this common scam results in you ending up giving up your bank account information, and seeing it wiped out. Also, watch out for overpayment scams, in which you are given a bad check for more than the required amount, and asked to refund the difference. Eventually the check bounces and you are in big trouble.
- Internet Scams: Watch out for email from spammers looking to infect your computer with malware, or attempting to get personal information and passwords. Also, watch out for fraudulent communications from organizations you trust.
- Mobile Phone Scams: The rise of cell phone use means that scammers are looking for ways to make money from your mobile habit. Some of these scams include hidden charges from certain numbers, as well as ringtone scams. Ringtone scams attract you by offering free ringtones that end up subscribing you to a costly service. Watch out for text message and missed call scams as well.
- Health and Medical Scams: Worried about your health condition? Concerned you can’t get in for a treatment you want? Watch out! Health scams try to provide you “cures” for different ailments, but really they are placebo pills, or complex and expensive “treatments” that are ineffective. Some can even be dangerous.
- Emergency Scams: You are contacted by someone who claims to be a loved one or close friend in trouble. They are stuck overseas and have been robbed. They need you to wire money to get them home. A quick search of the Internet can usually provide enough information to fool you into thinking you are speaking with someone you know.
- Dating and Romance Scams: The Internet makes it easier to connect with people. However, you need to watch out. There are scammers who work to get money from someone after establishing an online relationship. You might send money for plane tickets, or to help your online romance out of a tight spot. Once you send the money, the relationship ends — and you are left poorer, and with a broken heart.
- Charity Scams: This is sad, but true. There are scammers that pose as legitimate charities to play on your heart strings and get some money. Instead of helping someone in need, though, you’re lining a scammers pockets.
- Job and Employment Scams: Watch out for employment scams. There are classic work from home scams that promise to get you started earning money from home — as soon as you send a start-up fee or buy a system. Others might be secret shopper scams. While there are legit secret shopper jobs, there are also plenty of scams. Also, watch out for those tell you that the job is yours — once you go to a site and get your own credit report. You pay the money, the company gets a commission, and you have no job.
- Small Business Scams: Watch out for scams aimed at small businesses. This might be a false message that your domain is about to expire, or that you can be listed in a special “directory.” Also, watch out because business identity theft is on the rise.
- Service Scams: Someone shows up and offers to perform a service, such as roofing. You pay part of the money up front, and nothing comes of it. Other service scams include credit card interest rate reductions and antivirus software. Watch out for these service scams.
The Little Black Book of Scams also provides you with information about how to recognize each scam, and how to protect yourself from scammers. This is a great resource that everyone should read in order to arm themselves against the unscrupulous out there.