The Scam Formula
March 7, 2017
Scams often follow a similar formula.
They begin with a lie that sounds convincing.
For example, scammers may claim:
- You owe money to the IRS.
- A grandchild or other family member is in trouble and needs your help.
- There’s a virus on your computer.
- An arrest warrant has been issued in your name.
- You’ve won a sweepstakes or lottery.
- You’ve been selected for a federal grant.
After the initial lie, scammers generally try to convince you to give them money or personal information. Commonly, they’ll ask you to buy a gift card and provide the card’s numbers over the phone (so that they can drain the money), or they’ll tell you to send a wire transfer or money order. They may ask you for your checking account number or Social Security number, or they may give you instructions to allow them to access to your computer from their remote location.
Scammers also usually try to create a sense of urgency, saying you must act right away. They may claim that if you don’t pay within the next hour, police offers will show up at your door and take you to jail. Or they may claim that one of your family members has been in a car accident and needs money immediately to cover medical costs or attorney fees.
To protect yourself, watch for signs of a scam. Take a moment to think about a situation and talk to a trusted family member or friend before giving money or personal information