Saving money can be a tricky proposition. We’re all always on the lookout for a new tip or trick to save more money faster. While there are some legitimate ways to do that, there are just as many scams that will separate you from your hard-earned money. Here are some of the most common financial scams you need to be on the lookout for.
1. It’s Tax Season—And Tax Scam Season
‘Tis the season for tax returns, and with them come the inevitable tax-based financial scams. Chances are you’ve gotten at least one phone call this year claiming there is a lawsuit against you on behalf of the IRS for some unpaid tax debt. They threaten all sorts of things, from arrest to wage garnishment and everything in between.
It’s all a scam.
While the IRS might call you for a tax debt, they will not threaten you, demand immediate payment or request personal information. If you get one of these fraudulent calls, hang up and report it directly to the IRS. Whatever you do, don’t send money to the scammers. If you’re worried that someone has stolen your information through one of these tax scams, or a fraudulent return has been filed using your information, contact the IRS for more information.
2. You Might Want to Turn off Your Phone
These days, most of us don’t like answering our phones, especially when it’s a robocall from someone offering you a free trip or help with a credit card or loan. More and more of these calls are coming from scammers, both overseas and domestically, trying to pressure you into giving up your credit card or other identifying information. The most common scam calls you might receive include:
Credit Card “Support”: You might get calls or voicemails offering to help you solve a problem with your credit card account, whether you have one or not.
Loans Or Grants: You’ve suddenly qualified for a loan or grant that you never applied for. Hang up—it’s a scam.
You’ve Won A Trip: A classic scam, where phone operators try to convince you to give up your personal information with the promise of a free trip or cruise.
The trick to avoiding these telephone scams is to not give the scammers any of your personal information. Hang up as soon as possible, and make sure you register your home and cell phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s not perfect and won’t prevent all the scammers, but it does stop a good majority of them.
3. Does Anyone Believe These Anymore?
One of the oldest scams used to rely on email but has recently spread into different communication forms. Known colloquially as the “Nigerian Prince” scam because the messages almost always indicate that they are from a prince in Nigeria or nearby country, it consists of an email stating you can get enormous amounts of money. However, you first need to send money to an overseas bank account to facilitate the transfer.
These scams have become a pop culture joke, but there are still people falling for them every single year. It used to be limited to emails, but now you might get text messages, letters or phone calls requesting the same sort of nefarious assistance.
4. You Won! (If You Give Us Money, That Is)
There’s nothing quite like that feeling that you get after winning the lottery, but it should be a really strange feeling if you’ve never actually played. If you get a phone call or text message saying you’ve won the lottery, take it with a grain of salt. In most cases, representatives of lottery games aren’t going to call you or message you about winnings.
Even if you do play the lottery and receive a message like this, you should still be suspicious. Most lottery scams will say you need to pay some money in order to collect your winnings, under the guise of taxes or fees.
If you have been scammed, it’s important to contact local law enforcement. There’s no such thing as a get-rich-quick plan that actually works—but that doesn’t stop people from looking for them. Just be mindful of your situation, and make sure you trust your instincts. If something feels wrong or too good to be true, it probably is.