You may get a call saying you have a warrant for missing jury duty and you’re going to be arrested unless you pay the warrant using gift cards. Or they may say you have a relative who has been arrested in a foreign country and they will go to prison if you don’t pay their bail immediately using gift cards. Both of these scenarios are complete scams. You will never be asked to pay police fines using gift cards.
Free Trial Period
A caller might promise a Free Trial but then sign you up for products — sometimes lots of products — that you’re billed for every month until you cancel, and they will make it very difficult to cancel. Don’t fall for it.
Prize and Lottery
Have you been notified you won a prize or lottery but need to pay the registration, shipping, or taxes to claim your winnings? This is a scam. You will never have to pay money up front for winning a lottery legitimately. And be real … if you didn’t play the Costa Rican Lottery, you probably didn’t win the Costa Rican Lottery. Oh, and it’s illegal to play foreign lotteries by mail or phone.
Trying to sell something online? Beware of buyers sending you a check for more than the selling price and asking you to send them back the balance. These are usually stolen or forged checks. Just don’t do it.
Virtual Kidnapping / Ransom
You get a call your family member has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. You may even hear screaming in the background that sounds like your loved one. They order you to stay on the phone until the money is wired to prevent you from calling your relative to check on them. This is a scam, hang up and call your loved one. If you’re still concerned, call the police to check on them.
Are you using social connection sites to meet someone special? Scammers often pose as good-looking, wealthy suitors looking for love. Beware of someone who brags about riches, shows interest when they are much younger than you, or asks to leave the monitored site to talk directly via phone or email. These are common red flags that they are up to no good. And NEVER EVER send this special person money.
You get an email from an assassin who claims he’s been hired to kill you and he’s watching your every move. Fortunately for you, the hitman is willing to spare your life if you pay him. Oh, and you can’t call the police because he has people inside the PD working with him. Don’t believe this story, it’s a popular scam.
Sometimes door-to-door salespeople aren’t legit. By misrepresenting themselves, scammers can learn your name and the names of family members, determine how many people live in your home, what your schedule is, and even get the opportunity to case your house when they are invited in. If you didn’t call them, don’t let them in!
Important points to remember when you’re trying to determine if something is a scam:
- There is no prize!
- You won’t get arrested!
- You don’t need to decide right now!
- There is NEVER a good reason to send cash or a gift card!
- Government agencies aren’t calling you asking you to confirm your sensitive information!