January 9th, 2013
In a prior post, we talked about what you need to do if your identity is stolen. In today’s post, we’ll look at some common scams going around currently, and resources for learning more about them.
Scammers rely upon the natural trust of people. A good rule of thumb is always to trust but verify.
This sounds like a great idea: be paid to shop and report back on your experience. And there are legitimate companies out there. Unfortunately, there are many more scammer companies.
From the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
Don’t Pay to Be a Mystery Shopper
Dishonest promoters use newspaper ads and emails to create the impression that mystery shopping jobs are a gateway to a high-paying job with reputable companies. They often create websites where you can “register” to become a mystery shopper, but first you have to pay a fee — for information about a certification program, a directory of mystery shopping companies, or a guarantee of a mystery shopping job.
It is unnecessary to pay anyone to get into the mystery shopper business. The certification offered is almost always worthless. A list of companies that hire mystery shoppers is available for free, and legitimate mystery shopper jobs are listed on the internet for free. If you try to get a refund from the promoters, you will be out of luck. Either the business won’t return your phone calls, or if it does, it’s to try another pitch.
Don’t Wire Money
You may have heard about people who are “hired” to be mystery shoppers, and told that their first assignment is to evaluate a money transfer service, like Western Union or MoneyGram. The shopper receives a check with instructions to deposit it in a personal bank account, withdraw the amount in cash, and wire it to a third party. The check is a fake.
By law, banks must make the funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. It may seem that the check has cleared and that the money has posted to the account, but when the check turns out to be a fake, the person who deposited the check and wired the money will be responsible for paying back the bank.
It’s never a good idea to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money back.
You’re waiting for a package that you ordered and you get an email appearing to be from FedEx stating that they couldn’t deliver your package and to please click on a link to reschedule delivery. Unfortunately, it’s a trap to get your personal information, or to download malware onto your computer.
From the Better Business Bureau (BBB.org)
Fake delivery emails: Phishing emails enter consumers’ inboxes claiming to be from reputable companies like UPS, Federal Express and others. They claim to link to tracking information, but are really just filled with phishing links designed to get the consumer’s personal information for fraud.BBB tip: Don’t click on any links or attachments in emails until the sender of the email is confirmed as the company. Red flags include typos, grammatical mistakes and unsolicited emails from unfamiliar companies. When in doubt, call the company the email came from to verify the legitimacy.
You bought or received a gift card but the number was written down by someone. Once you buy it and activate it, they can clean it out of the funds before you can buy.
8 tips to protect yourself from a gift card scam: