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Let’s talk about some common signs of a scam. During
this time of year all types of scams seem to increase.
The digital age has exposed us to a wide variety of
scams that ordinary people are being affected by globally.
It is a common misconception that only foolish
people fall for scams, when in fact there are a number
of highly educated and intelligent people that fall just
as easily into the traps of some of the more clever
scam artists. Some scams are well known and easily
avoided, but there are a number of much more convincing
scams due to the targets being carefully researched
and selected. There are however, a number of common
elements that point to an offer or request being a scam.
Below are 10 warning signs that offer or request you are
receiving a scam.
1. Being offered money you weren’t expecting:
As a general rule it is your responsibility to find
assets you are entitled to, not the other way around.
Whether it’s an inheritance from a relative you have
never known, receiving a grant you have never applied
for or winning a lottery you have never entered, if
someone is offering you money you weren’t expecting,
proceed with extreme caution. Google search the
person and company they supposedly work for, call the
business directly or even do a Google search with the
word “scam” at the end to see if it has been previously
reported as a scam.
2. Links that ask for personal or private information:
Legitimate businesses will never contact you and ask
for personal or private information. Scammers, however,
can set up websites that look just like the legitimate
website of the actual business. They will send you an
email asking you to “click” on a link and log in to verify
information. When you do this, they collect both your
login information and any personal information you
If you get an e-mail from a bank or any other business
you generally do business with asking you to
verify information, never click on any links they provide.
Instead, either call the business to verify or go directly
to their website via your own saved link or a search
engine link.
3. Be wary of spelling and grammatical errors:
While even the most legitimate and well-established
businesses can occasionally let a spelling or grammatical
error slip through their rigid inspection, scammers
often reside in a foreign country and do not speak
English as their primary language. If you get an e-mail
that is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors,
there is almost a 100% chance it is a scam.
4. Request of Fees:
One common scam it to request a fee to release a
huge sum of money. These fees can be for taxes or a
processing fee, but if they genuinely had money to give
you, they could just hold the fee back from the total.
Never pay fees or make payments to any business or
company you haven’t thoroughly investigated and vetted
as being legitimate.
5. Check domains carefully:
In addition to setting up fake websites, scammers will
also set up fake e-mail addresses that seem to be from
a legitimate company. The domain is the information
after the @ symbol in an e-mail address. If you receive
an e-mail from a business that seems in any way odd,
the first clue is if the domain is from a free e-mail service
such as Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook. While some
legitimate businesses might use a free e-mail host, it
is rare. You can go to the company website through a
search engine and e-mail the individual directly, rather
than simply clicking on the reply button.
Most legitimate businesses and individuals will also
have a social media presence that you can check as
well. If you can’t find a clear and distinct trail of information
about the person or business, it’s probably a scam.
Never click on any links until you have thoroughly verified
the sender. Clicking on links in e-mails can put your
computer at risk at being infected by a virus or other
types of malware.
6. Suspicious addresses, no address or PO Box:
Genuine businesses have genuine addresses that
have been verified and registered. While some legitimate
businesses will have a PO Box as a mailing
address due to the high volume of mail they receive,
they also have a legitimate street address. If anything
seems even a little amiss, it’s worth it to do some additional
investigation before responding, clicking on a link
or giving any information.
7. Requests for remote computer access:
If anyone calls you claiming to be a technician and
requesting remote access to your computer, be very
suspicious. The best thing to do is to hang up and look
the business phone number up yourself and call them
to verify.
If you have posted your resume or interest in a job
on social media be very careful. Scammers will answer
these posts by asking you several questions posing as
a legitimate company. They will try to convince you they
do represent a legitimate company and hire you. They
will ask for your personal account information in order
to mail you a check for your services. Scammers will
remote deposit a fraudulent check into your account.
Once this occurs they will tell you to quickly withdraw
the money and send them the majority and tell you to
keep a small portion of it. They will tell you what payment
method to use when sending them the money.
They will typically have you send the money to a foreign
country. By the time it is learned the check is fraudulent
the money has been withdrawn from the account.
8. Untraceable methods of payment:
Legitimate businesses use legitimate methods of payment
like banks. Even when they use online services
you can check with that service to see if they are a
verified sender or not. Scammers prefer untraceable
payment methods as mentioned above. Do not send or
even receive money from any source you are not 100%
sure of.
9. Urgency:
Words like “immediately”, “act now”, and “time sensitive”
should all be Red Flags. While a genuine business
making a genuine offer may only extend the offer for a
limited time, it will be more than enough time for you to
verify the legitimacy of the business. Scammers want
you to act immediately before you have time to check
them out or rationally contemplate the likelihood of their
outrageous offer being legitimate.
Never give into the urge to act swiftly or immediately.
Remember, scammers are often master students of
psychology and human behavior and know the “buzz
words” and “key phrases” to use to get you to act
quickly and respond irrationally. The best thing you can
do when faced with a “once in a lifetime opportunity”
is to take a step back, take a minute to think clearly
and rationally and do some careful research before
Hopefully these few signs of a scam will be beneficial
to you. Of course there are many other signs to look
for but I feel these are most common. Remember, if it
seems too good to be true, it’s not worth the risk.
Have a Great Holiday Season!!
Clay Perry
Texas First Bank Security/Fraud Manager

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