We’re presented with offers and opportunities every day. The good news is that almost every one of them is honest. Unfortunately, every now and then you may be presented with an opportunity that sounds too good to be true. If you think you’ve come across a scam, it can be helpful to think about what you’re being offered and what you have to do to get it. Scams come in all shapes and sizes but they tend to follow the same pattern. Learning that pattern can help you learn how to spot a scam and avoid becoming a potential victim.
Every scam paints a vivid picture and every picture needs a frame. Scammers will always frame a scam with something that you want or need: a job, the chance to earn extra money, a romantic relationship, tax money way past due, the opportunity to claim a refund or sweepstakes prize you were previously unaware of. There’s often an element of urgency to get you to act fast, without telling anyone or stopping to consider the information you’ve just received.
“All you have to do is…” For a scam to work there must always be a twist. If you do a job for a scammer, you’ll need to send money back to them once they’ve paid you. If they say you’ve won a prize, they need you to put some money down to get your winnings. If they’re enticing you into a relationship, they’ll need some help moving money around or they’ll ask for a loan before you can meet in person. It’s never a cut and dried exchange, there’s always some twist. Every scam offers you something desirable, provided you send them something in return.
Once you’ve held up your end of the deal; the scam may or not be complete. Often times the money transfer, check or money order that you were sent for your efforts will be declined by your financial institution. The person you’ve been flirting with might suddenly disappear, or they’ll need more money before they can see you. The bottom line is, now they have your money and you didn’t get what they promised you.
What can you do?
One of the best ways to determine if an offer or opportunity is a scam is to take some time and talk to a trusted advisor. GECU has experienced professionals who’ve seen a wide variety of scams. GECU members are encouraged to call 778-9221 or 1-800-772-4328 if they receive an offer that seems too good to be true. Scammers might be clever, but they’re not very original and chances are, they’ve already tried their scam many times before. Learning their tricks can help you avoid an unfortunate situation.
GECU makes every effort to keep your personal and financial information safe from online threats. You’ll find important tips to help protect your accounts and personal information in our Fraud Resource Center.