This is a question many of us ask ourselves lately due to the sheer number of scams that are going on.
Unfortunately, if you have asked yourself that question, if you have been scammed, it is too late.
It is estimated that at some point, 75% of us will have been the recipient of a scam in our lives. Not that we will become a victim of a scam, but that we will have been contacted by a scam artist. I use the term artist, as in some ways these scammers and fraudsters are very clever.
Gone are the days of a Nigerian Prince contacting us to transfer money into our bank accounts as he knows we are a person to be trusted.
With the Internet came a “whole new realm of mischief”.
Every day there is a new scam being devised and created.
There are scams that use social media, like Facebook, there are “phantom goods” scams, where you buy an item online only to not have it posted to you.
There are scams using PayPal, there are scams where people phone you offering to sell you things, and of course email has made reaching the scammed masses even easier. A scammer can send out thousands of emails in an instant, with the hopes just one person responds.
There are also a few very clever scams, one involving the police and who you think is your bank.
There you are siting at home, relaxing, reading the paper, when the phone rings. It is the police telling you that your details and bank card were stolen, and used in a crime, and you need to contact your bank to sort matters out.
In a panic, you put the phone down, and ring your bank.
Your bank asks you a few questions, gets your details, and states they will send a courier around to pick-up your bank card, and they will post a new bank card out to you.
Sure enough within a few hours there is a knock on the door, a courier appears, and you hand over your bank card.
You will never receive a new card in the post, and yours is now off and gone with the scammer.
How did all this occur, you phoned your bank??
The scammer who rang you stating they were the police, never broke the phone connection when you hung up and phoned your bank. They just then pretended to be your bank, and you in thinking it was your bank, gave them your details.
Another scam which is pretty clever, is you receiving a phone call from your bank, and in asking security questions, the caller asks for the 1st and 3rd number of your PIN. Then after providing those numbers, the caller states you broke up, and can you give them the 2nd and 4th number.
They then have your full PIN, and off they go to use it.
Some of these scams are fairly ingenious in how they operate.
One of the latest scams I have read about is almost something you would not believe.
You are searching for a bargain on a new laptop, so you search online, find a deal, and buy it.
The laptop arrives as promised, and it is just what you ordered, and seems to work well. However, unbeknownst to you, there is spyware installed on the computer, spyware that tracks your every keystroke and where you go, sending all that information back to a scammer.
They then can use that information and your details to make purchases, possibly take out loans, and in general make your life a mess.
Of course being the good friend you are, you tell your friends of the bargain laptop you found, and they buy one as well only to fall prey to the same scam.
That is a well planned and played scam.
As you can see, we need to be vigilant in looking out for, and protecting ourselves from fraud and scams.
There is so many different ways we can be scammed, it is easy to see why some are as paranoid as they are, and trust no one.