Every year, millions of individuals in the US fall prey to scammers taking their money and other personal assets. They pretend to be legitimate sellers or charitable organizations, using cunning methods that dupe unsuspecting victims easily.
To protect yourself from these schemes, be mindful and wary of who you’re transacting with. Listed are 3 of the most common types of consumer fraud and tips for avoiding them to help you out.
If a scammer tries to obtain someone’s name, Social Security number, and other personal details, they’re committing identity theft. This frequent case of consumer fraud is performed to make various transactions using the victim’s identity. The criminal can open a new bank account with the information stolen and purchase several items on credit. As a result, the affected individual is faced with a hefty loan. And, their financial records and creditworthiness are tarnished.
Keeping your personal data secure is the key to avoid identity theft. If you receive a suspicious email or phone calls pressuring you to share your info through alluring one-time deals and other similar sales tactics, don’t give in. Ignore the message or cut the line immediately.
Another tip is to protect the passwords and pin codes of your accounts and gadgets. Don’t save them in apps, notepads, hard drives, and other storage devices. Change them every month, too, for extra precaution.
When thieves don’t use sales tactics, they may appeal to your pity. They take advantage of situations like natural disasters and pose as non-profits and other charitable organizations. They tap into your generosity and goodwill, urging you to offer donations for a “good cause.”
A typical sign that the charity is fake is they ask you to transfer the amount through means that can’t be easily traced like cash and gift cards. They may also make you feel guilty or selfish if you refuse to give your money.
If you’re still unsure about their authenticity, there are several watchdog websites online that register actual charity organizations. The list should show the name of the group reaching out to you; otherwise, they’re most likely a con artist. You may also do further research on their background and history to confirm their legitimacy.
Home Title Fraud
While most criminals rob money from consumers, some try to acquire other assets they have like their houses. This type of scam called home title fraud typically stems from identity theft; the trickster uses the victim’s personal data to revoke their ownership of their property. This can happen so subtly that the affected individual may just be surprised to find out their estate isn’t listed under their name anymore.
People with second homes or real estate investment properties are often the targets of these scammers. When they’ve been victimized, they stop receiving the past-due notices and tax bills for these residences.
Like preventive measures against identity theft, your personal data should always be kept private. Don’t share your name, personal ID numbers, addresses, and phone numbers to organizations you haven’t verified yet. Also, monitor your house information with your county’s deed office. You may get help from third-party services for title fraud prevention, too.