Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day – a great time to remind us that scammers use clever tricks to reel you in.
Whether it’s a Nigerian prince with accounting problems, a stranded “friend” in some exotic place or a text message telling you you’ve won a European lottery, it appears that we are being bombarded with offers that sound too good to be true.
So what are the top scams you should be aware of?
*Online dating scams. It is all about patience. Your online paramour is more interested in your wallet than your heart. He will spend weeks, months and even years to woo you before he approaches you for “financial help”. He could be running a charity and needs some financial assistance to help the local community or he has a relative in desperate need for an operation.
“While the story you’re told may vary, the thirst for your money is the same,” Choice magazine says.
*Small Business false billing scam.
This is a common scam targeting the small business community into paying for services which they never used like advertising, office supplies or renewal of non-existing domain names.
*Unexpected prize scam.
This is a classic scam. You receive a phone call, text or email telling you that you have won a substantial sum in an overseas lottery and all you have to do is to provide your personal information to claim the winnings.
Often the scammer poses as a lawyer, banker or other foreign official because you have been lefty a large amount of money by a long-lost aunt or best friend. All is required is your banking details and an upfront payment to release the money.
The scammer offers you a job with an overinflated salary which involves an up-front payment to seal the appointment. The job never eventuates and your money is gone forever.
Come tax time, scammers pose as Australian Tax Office agents tell you that you have overpaid your tax and are now entitled to a refund. To get it, you have to pay an administrative fee and enter your financial details.
Scammers use persuasive psychological tactics to make you part with your money like giving you a gift. This makes you feel obliged to return the favour. Remember, you don’t owe the scammer anything.
*Last chance scams
A popular tactic by scammers is to use the term “last chance” and “limited offer” to get you to make a fast decision. If you feel pressured to act quickly, your best defence is to hang up the phone or delete the email.
*Incredible deal scam
Scammers are very clever at offering incredible deals that promise great returns with very little or no risk. If the deal sounds too good to be true, then it often is.
Scammers send text messages that look like they are from your bank. Never respond to any unsolicited texts asking you to click and follow a link. Never provide any personal information especially bank account numbers and credit card details.
The message: Don’t be an April Fool – tomorrow or any other day!