The Worst Scams of 2012 and How to Avoid Falling for Them

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The Internet is vast and expanding everyday at a rapid pace. This can make keeping your identity safe and protected a daunting task because of online shopping, email phishing scams, and other online activity that most people partake in. The number of Internet scams and identity theft cases has most certainly increased and you need to know how to protect yourself and not become another victim.

If you have fallen for a scam, then you know firsthand that it can have a demoralizing effect on your life. Some online scams are pretty sophisticated and you can be drawn into the scam very easily nowadays. Here is a list of the worst scams of 2012 and ways to avoid them:

Mortgage Modification Scam – Homeowners that are facing a possible foreclosure have one more thing to worry about now: falling for a loan modification scam that promises to save your home. Mortgage Modification scams are changing every single day. Usually, people will seek out loan modifications in hopes of forestalling a foreclosure. However, scam artists have seized the opportunity to use phony loan mod schemes to prey on vulnerable homeowners. They will usually call or email you with an offer that sounds too good to be true (because it probably is). If you decide to get a loan modification, make sure that the agency you are using is a HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved agency. You can always use the www.mha.gov government website for more info about loan modifications and to find a trusted agency. Beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee in exchange for counseling services or the modification of a delinquent loan. Advantage CCS is a HUD approved housing counseling agency and our services are free.

The Nigerian Email Scam – Almost everyone has received an email from a member of a Nigerian family with tons of wealth, perhaps a Nigerian Prince or Princess. This was one of the biggest email scams to hit in-boxes in 2012. It’s a desperate cry for help and they use your emotions and kind nature against you. Another common email scam is from a woman in Africa or another foreign country, who claims that her husband has died and she wants to leave millions of dollars from his estate to a church. You will be promised an extremely large cut of their business or family fortune in return for your help. All you have to do is cover the “legal costs” and other “transfer fees” that must be paid to that person so that their funds can be released. Many people still fall for this money transfer scam. You’ll never see any of the promised money, because there isn’t any and you won’t be able to get your money back.

Phishing Email and Fake Websites – This is definitely the most widespread Internet and email scam out there today. “Phishing” is where “digital” or online thieves trick you into divulging your password or login info through convincing emails and websites that they built. These emails and websites will resemble legitimate credit authorities such as Citibank, eBay, or PayPal. They will most likely tell you that your account has been hacked and you must enter your login information to change your password. The email will ask you to click on a link. But instead of leading you to the real login https: site, the link will secretly redirect you to a fake website. You enter your username and password, then it’s done, they now have all the info they need. They’ll be able to access your account and steal your money. Tip: Use your mouse to hover over the link address in the email. The beginning of the link address should always have “https://”. Fake links will just have “http://” (no “s”) because the “s” stands for “Secure”. If you still aren’t sure, don’t click on the link or enter any info, make a phone call to the financial institution to verify if the email is legit or not.

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Weight Loss Trial Scam -We’ve all seen these ads and who doesn’t want to lose weight, am I right? Products claiming to be endorsed by the likes of Oprah and Rachael Ray are always just a mouse click away. Trail offers for weight loss pills or cookies are often too good to be true. If you read customer reviews around the Internet, these trial offers usually don’t work and the worst part is sometimes the products didn’t even get delivered, ever. Companies would fold up and you would have a very hard time trying to get your money back.

Friends or Family in Trouble Phone Call – This one is nicknamed the “Grandparent Scam”. The victim is contacted by the scammer who claims to be a family member travelling outside of the country and they need some money wired to them ASAP to help pay a lawyer or post bail. Financially stable seniors are usually forthcoming with money for their grand kids  Elderly people are also targeted because some may be “hard of hearing” and this gives the scammer even more advantage of getting their money.

Job Placement Scam – Record high unemployment numbers gives scammers the perfect opportunity to prey on a growing demographic. Posing as a job recruitment officer, thieves would require all job applicants to pay a fee to be considered for a job. They will just take your money and run! The second part of this is that they may try to gain access to personal information such as bank accounts and social security numbers for the purpose of “evaluating potential employees”. Never give out your bank account info or social security number unless you are 100% positive you are dealing with a certified and reputable company.

Lottery Scam – Most of us dream of winning the lottery, quitting our jobs and finally being able to enjoy the finer things in life. Chances are pretty good that you’ll receive at least one intriguing email from someone saying that you have just won a huge amount of money. Imagine getting a phone call from “Publishers Clearing House” stating that you’ve won their million dollar lottery. The catch: before you can collect your “winnings”, you must pay the “processing” or “wire transfer” fee of several thousands of dollars. Once you’ve finally realized that you have been scammed into paying $1,000+ to a fictional company, they are long gone with your money. Do not fall for this lottery scam.

Author: Lauralynn Mangis
Lauralynn is the Online Marketing Specialist for AdvantageCCS. She is married and has two young daughters. She enjoys writing, reading, hiking, cooking, video games, sewing, and gardening. Lauralynn has a degree in Multimedia Technologies from Pittsburgh Technical College.