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Creative Scams Aimed at Your Wallet

Posted on February 26, 2019

Creative Scams Aimed at Your Wallet
At BluCurrent, we’re constantly looking for ways to keep your account safe & secure. Unfortunately, fraudsters develop scams to try to get money directly from you. It is important to be aware of these scams to help protect your hard-earned dollars.

Gift Card Scams
Gift cards can be purchased at almost any store or financial institution. Scammers are creating scenarios where it seems appropriate to buy a gift card. Be aware of the following common scenarios:  
  • They have an emergency and need help. Who doesn’t want to help a friend out? Unfortunately, if someone you do not know is asking for a gift card, it’s likely they are not who they say they are.
  • Payment for goods. Scammers are making calls to victims stating they owe a bill or can receive a loan if they first buy a gift card. Reputable companies and individuals do not ask for payment via gift cards.
  • You can make extra money by buying gift cards and you will be paid for your time. Scammers are asking potential victims to purchase gift cards, stating they will be paid for their time and reimbursed for the cost of the gift card. 
Tips to avoid this scam:
  1. Only treat gift cards as gifts. Do not ever expect to be reimbursed for giving a gift card.
  2. If someone calls you stating that you owe them money and ask for a gift card for payment, hang up right away.
  3. Never use a gift card for payment purposes.

Romance Scams
Online dating and social media have made it easier than ever to meet new people and find dates. Unfortunately, this has also created new opportunities for scammers. This is where the term “catfishing” comes from. This is where a person attempts to lure someone into a relationship by creating a fictional online persona. Dating and romance scammers will often express strong emotions in a short period of time. They will quickly move away from the dating site, to a more private channel such email or texting and ask for money and gifts.

Tips to avoid this scam:
  1. Do your research. A simple google search can provide a lot of information about the person. If you’ve never met the person and cannot verify they are who they say they are, don’t trust them
  2. Never send money or personal information to someone you do not know.
  3. Never send government ID numbers, credit card information or other bank related information to anyone. 

Secret Shopper Scams
Retailers often hire companies to evaluate the quality of their stores and customer service. This is called secret shopping. There are legitimate secret shopping opportunities out there, but there are also plenty of scams.
 
The Check-Cashing Secret Shopper Scam
One of the more popular scams is when a cashier’s check or money order is mailed out, and the individual is told to cash the check then purchase gift cards or wire the funds back to the company. The individual thinks they are receiving a “bonus,” until they find out the check is not legitimate, and they are held accountable for the bogus check by their financial institution. 

Tips to avoid this scam:
  1. Be cautious of any unexpected checks or money orders you receive in the mail. Just because a check arrives UPS or Fedex does not mean it is legitimate.
  2. If you question the validity of the check, contact your financial institution and they can do their best to determine if the check is legitimate or not.
Secret Shopper Fees Scam
Secret shopping companies will never ask you to pay them for the opportunity to become a secret shopper. The line often used is that the company wants to make sure you are “serious about the opportunity.” 

Tips to avoid this scam:
  1. Never send money to these companies for classes or certifications in becoming a secret shopper. Any company that is attempting to collect a fee is likely a scam.
  2. If you are interested in secret shopping, do your research. Make sure the company you choose is legitimate and does not follow any of these fraudulent practices. 

Make sure you are not a victim of the next creative scam! Be aware of these scenarios and keep your hard earned dollars safe.