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Watch Out for Online Scams

Faith & Finance with Rob West | Jan 13, 2023

Show Notes

Emotions can cause a lot of trouble if you allow them to get anywhere near your money. The two emotions that will cause the most trouble are fear and greed. Scam artists know this and use it to separate you from your hard-earned cash. We’ll talk about how to prevent that first.

  • People are spending a lot of time and money online these days, so that’s where scammers are focusing their latest efforts.
  • We’ve talked about “phishing” many times before, but it bears repeating because it continues to be highly successful for thieves.
  • A phishing email is the most common way cybercrooks try to fool you into giving up your personal financial information or getting you to click a malicious link.
  • In most cases, a phishing email will indicate that you owe money or that you’re due money. The first capitalizes on fear, the other, greed. You can often spot a phishing attempt by scanning the message for poor grammar and misspelled words. If you see any, hit the delete button.
  • Next in the scammers’ bag of bad tricks is fake antivirus software. Let’s say you’re looking at a website and you get a message saying that your computer is infected. The scammer offers free software to clean your computer, but by downloading it you’ll actually infect your system with a virus or malware.
  • Leave that page immediately and use only software from reputable anti-malware companies like Norton, McAfee or Intego.
  • Or you might get a phone call from a scammer posing as tech support from your actual anti-malware provider saying your computer is infected.
  • They’ll ask you to download an app that allows them to take control of your computer remotely so they can “fix” the problem for you. If you allow it, the crook gets access to any personal financial information on your computer like your Social Security or credit card numbers. Within hours, you’ll probably become another victim of identity theft.
  • If you get a call like that, hang up. Reputable anti-malware companies won’t “cold call” to tell you your device is infected. Norton, for example, says they’ll only call if you first contact them about a problem, and their tech support is free to subscribers.
  • And that’s another clue that you’re being scammed — when tech support wants to charge a large sum of money to fix a problem, sometimes more than the device is worth.
  • Also, beware of ads on Google offering services for exorbitant sums because even scammers can advertise there. If you have a problem, contact the manufacturer or a reputable anti-malware provider directly. Don’t click a google ad for tech support.
  • That covers scams using fear.
  • Let’s turn to greed and scams promising ways to make fast and easy money, usually from home. You’ll often see these in your browser’s search results. They’ll take you to fake websites that offer quick money for doing almost nothing.
  • They’re really trying to get you to turn over your personal information by filling out some type of online form. Never give out financial details in response to a search result, email or ad.
  • Another way the “fast and easy money” scammers can get you is by requiring you to pay for something upfront like purchasing training materials for a bogus job they’re offering. Once the crooks get your money, you’ll never hear from them again.
  • You’re more likely to find Bigfoot in your backyard than a job that pays well but requires no skills or training and few work hours. If jobs like that really existed, they wouldn’t need to be advertised. Everybody and their uncle would already be doing them.
  • Okay, time for just one more online scam, and that would be fake shopping sites. The Internet is loaded with them, and they usually have one thing in common. They’ll offer you great deals on your favorite brands at ridiculously low prices, sometimes 75% off, or more.
  • If you fall for one of these fake deals, the scammers will then have your credit or debit card information and can then use it themselves or sell it on the dark web.
  • You can usually spot them by taking a careful look at the URL or web address. It will look very similar to the real online merchant but will always have a slight variation, like an extra letter, so be on the lookout.
  • Those are the latest online scams, and now you know how to avoid them so you can be “gentle as doves but wise as serpents.”

On this program, Rob also answers listener questions:

  • How do you know if it makes sense to hang onto precious metals or sell them?
  • How can you determine if you’re eligible to get rid of your private mortgage insurance?
  • When does it make sense to move money out of the stock market and put it into a more conservative investment?
  • How do you determine when the time is right to buy a new (to you) car?

Remember, you can call in to ask your questions most days at (800) 525-7000 or email them to Questions@MoneyWise.org. Also, visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can connect with a MoneyWise Coach, join the MoneyWise Community, and even download the free MoneyWise app.

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