11 Sneaky Scams Slinking Around in 2024

Scammers are like a pesky fly at your picnic. They are annoying, persistent, and always looking for a way to snatch your lunch. In 2024, with technology ever-evolving, scammers are constantly innovating their tactics. But fear not. You can protect yourself and your hard-earned money by staying informed. Therefore, keep reading this article to learn about the top scams in America and and find tips to keep your hard-earned cash safe.

Phishing Emails

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The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 2023 Data Book shows that email is the top method for scammers to reach victims. This suggests a rise in phishing attempts. Phishing scammers also have stepped up their game. They impersonate trusted institutions like banks, credit card companies, or even your boss. They send super legit emails, complete with fancy logos and urgent messages. They’ll try to make you click on a link or download an attachment, but be careful. Hackers could use those links and attachments to steal your information and login details. They could also infect your device with malware.

To protect yourself from these scams, watch out for some of the common red flags. The email may start with a generic greeting like “Dear Customer.” It may have grammar mistakes or misspell URLs. Also, if the email seems overly urgent, that’s a warning sign too. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to act right away.

Stay alert, and don’t click on suspicious links or attachments. Always double-check the sender’s email address. A real bank wouldn’t use a free email service. If you’re unsure about an email, contact the company directly through its official website or phone number.

Robocalls

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Robocalls are becoming a bigger problem these days. Scammers are getting smarter. They use fancy technology to make it seem like they’re calling from your area code. They’re trying to trick you into picking up the phone to scare you into giving them money or stealing your info.

Here’s what you can do to fight back: Get yourself a call-blocking app or service. Many smartphones already have this feature built-in, so take advantage of it. If you see an unknown number calling, ignore it. And if you accidentally answer, don’t press any buttons or give out personal information. Disconnect the call and stay vigilant.

Impersonation

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Impersonation scams were massive in 2023. These scams caused a loss of $2.7 billion, which accounts for half of all the FTC’s fraud reports. Emails are now the top way scammers reach victims.

Scammers love pretending to be people you trust. They’ll act like government officials or tech support reps. They might even pretend to be your grandchild in a “desperate” situation. They play on your fears, create a sense of urgency, and exploit your instinct to help others. They might demand immediate payment for a fake “debt”. Or, they might try to trick you into sharing personal info. Or, into giving them access to your computer.

Remember to always check before giving out your personal information. Also, before making payments over the phone. Only do so if you initiated the call and confirmed the number with the company. And if someone claiming to be a loved one asks for money, don’t blindly trust them. Contact them directly through a known phone number or social media account to make sure it’s them.

Payment Scams

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FTC reports show that scammers caused a loss of about $1.86 billion. The loss came from bank transfers and other payments. So, always be cautious when using apps like Venmo and Zelle to split bills or pay friends. Scammers are getting clever. They may try to trick you by sending fake payment notifications. Always verify the sender’s details before accepting any payments to avoid falling victim to scams. Legitimate transactions on these platforms do not ask you to send money in advance.

Investment Scams

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This is the 4th most reported category of scams, as people reported median losses of $7.7K. It is well-known that get-rich-quick schemes have stood the test of time. Fraudsters promise big returns on investments. They cover areas such as cryptocurrency, real estate, and work-from-home opportunities. They exploit your desire for financial stability. They may use aggressive tactics or false testimonials to lure you.

Prioritize research. Carefully investigate the company, product, or service before parting with your hard-earned money. It is crucial to avoid investing in anything you don’t understand.

Exercise caution with unsolicited offers. Legitimate investments do not usually knock on your door (or email you). Be careful with unsolicited phone calls, emails, or social media messages that promote investments.

Deepfakes and AI

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Technology can be a two-sided coin. Scammers use deepfakes, made by AI, to create convincing videos or audio clips. They show people doing things or making statements they never made. The deepfakes could feature a famous person. They could promote a fake product or investment scheme. This is a type of impersonation scam.

Skepticism is crucial. Scrutinize all online content, especially videos and social media. If something appears overly perfect or unbelievable, it is likely deceptive.

Social Media Scams

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Social media scams accounted for losses of $1.4 billion – an increase of 250 million from 2022. Scammers exploit the trust and vulnerability of users on social media platforms. These scammers use many tactics. For example, they make fake profiles that look like those of your friends or family. They use them to trick you into sending money or sharing personal information. Additionally, they can gain unauthorized access to real accounts. They do this through phishing scams or malware. Once they get into these accounts, they can spread false information. They can also target your acquaintances and followers with more fraud.

It is crucial to exercise caution about friend requests on social media. It is not wise to automatically accept requests from unfamiliar people. If you notice a friend acting suspicious online, contact them on a different channel. Use it to verify their identity.

Also, be careful about the information you share on social media. Avoid giving too many personal details. Scammers can use them to build an identity profile. This can make you vulnerable to personalized scams.

Fake Online Stores

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Online shopping scams account for 44% of the 56K reported losses on social media. The median reported loss was around $100 per person. The online world is full of amazing bargains, but it’s also a hot spot for fraudsters. These scammers set up fake websites. The sites look like real online stores and offer big discounts on top brands. However, if you fall for their trap and make a purchase, you might end up with a shoddy imitation or even nothing at all.

To avoid such scams, it’s best to shop from reputable sites with a good reputation. Stick to well-known online retailers that have proven themselves trustworthy over time. Additionally, always watch for the lock symbol and “https” at the beginning of the website’s URL. This shows the site has a secure connection. It encrypts your payment details, giving an extra layer of protection for your personal information.

Pop-up scams

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When surfing the internet, you may see pop-up windows. They warn you about a virus or security risks. These pop-ups frequently urge you to download software or contact a fraudulent tech support hotline. If you comply, they might install bad software on your device. Or, they might try to bill you for unnecessary “solutions”.

Avoid clicking the pop-ups: Close the window without clicking on any content within a suspicious pop-up. Consider buying security software. It includes a trustworthy antivirus and anti-malware app. It can protect your device from such threats.

Charity Scams

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Do your homework before giving to any charity, especially during the holiday season or after a disaster. Scammers take advantage of people’s kindness by pretending to be from real charities or making up fake ones.

To avoid falling for their tricks, take the time to look into the charity you’re considering donating to. Websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar can help you verify if the charity is legitimate. And remember, reputable charities will never rush you into giving cash or sharing personal information over the phone. Stay safe and give wisely.

Romance Scams

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Romance scams have existed for a while, but they’re becoming increasingly common. In 2023, reported losses from romance scams were over $1.14 billion, with a median loss of $2,000 per person. Scammers often pretend to be someone else. They also create fake profiles on dating and social media platforms to trick innocent people. It can be difficult to spot a fake profile, as scammers tend to use stock photos and come up with excuses for not meeting face-to-face.

Once they’ve gained your trust, scammers might ask you to purchase items for them or send them money. They could also “accidentally” send you money and request that you return it or pass it along to someone else. If the payment turns out to be fraudulent, your bank will deduct that amount from your account. These scams usually start with private messages on social media or dating apps. They can target anyone, and some scammers are even looking to build platonic relationships rather than romantic ones.

Romance scams can be quick and dramatic. Don’t rush into love or send money. Be cautious of online sob stories and excuses to avoid meetings. Do a reverse image search of their photos. If something feels wrong, trust your gut and end communication.

 

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