How to Avoid Financial Scams in 2019

It seems that, with every passing day, a new financial scam is revealed. Even those people who know about the scams find themselves at the losing end of one of them. Many are so convincing that by the time you realize it’s a scam, it’s too late. Your money’s gone and getting it back is nearly impossible. 

Scammers and hackers are continuously looking for more ways to access your hard-earned money. To protect yourself, you need to stay on top of the latest schemes and make sure you don’t become an unwitting victim. 

  1. Fraudulent charities

Too many people are caught out by a sob story about people or animals in desperate need of help. Fraudsters prey on your humanity. The days of door-to-door solicitation of donations are also over. A lot of the appeals are made online. They look and sound credible, which is why they fool so many people. 

Before you know it, you’ve used your credit card to donate. The scammers are sitting in a room halfway around the world, rubbing their hands in glee. First, you’ve given them free money. Second, they’ve got your credit card details so that they can get even more. 

Do your research before you donate to a charity. Each country has a database of legitimate charities that are registered and eligible for donations. 

  1. Cryptocurrency scams

People are increasingly being defrauded by cryptocurrency scams. They wind up investing in cryptocurrency, thinking their investment will grow. Unfortunately for some, that cryptocurrency they’re bragging to their friends about doesn’t even exist. 

Some cryptocurrency scams are a modern take on the Ponzi scheme. The people who run them take money from new investors to pay out old investors. When you invest, you’re promised a massive return that never materializes. 

Keep up to date with cryptocurrency news to make sure you’re not falling prey to a greedy scammer. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fraudsters will say whatever they must to get you to invest. Don’t be impressed by jargon and so-called specialized knowledge. Do thorough research before committing your money. 

  1. Password protection

It might be hard to believe, but there are still people who use Pa$$word1 to access their email, banking, and social media accounts. Once they’ve inadvertently let the cat out of the bag or used a keylogger to record it, it’s open season. They have access to your whole life and will use it to bleed you dry. 

Set different passwords for every site you visit. There are online password tools that allow you to store your passwords safely. Otherwise, you’ll have a never-ending list that you’ll need to memorize. A password should contain at least eight characters and combine upper-and-lower case letters, numbers, and non-alpha-numeric symbols. 

  1. Money transfer schemes

A lot of unsuspecting people receive an email from a rich Nigerian prince who’s recently had a relative die. They’ll be inheriting a fortune, or so they say. All they want you to do is wire them some of your money so that they can access the inheritance in a U.S. bank account.

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and though most people know about it, thousands continue to fall for it. Don’t expect these schemes only to follow this well-known script. You could get an email from a long-lost family member you only have a vague recollection of who suddenly needs emergency financial assistance. 

The best advice on scams like these is never to wire money to anyone, especially overseas. The only time you should break this rule is if you are 100% sure that you know who you’re sending the money to.

About the Author
Rachel Brenner is a Professor of Jewish Studies. Her research focuses on Jewish Literature and has published dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters.
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