There is a science to scams, and it may surprise you to know that scammers use many of the same techniques as real sales professionals. The difference, of course, is that their “product” is illegal and could cost you a fortune.
The Better Business Bureau does not want you to lose your hard-earned money. You can protect yourself by being aware of the common techniques that scammers use.
Establishing a connection
The scammer builds rapport and a relationship with you. This is usually used face-to-face, as in home improvement scams and many investment scams, but also is used in online romance scams.
Scammers use techniques to make themselves look legitimate, such as fake websites, social media posts or hacked emails that come from a friend’s account. Most email scams spoof real companies, and many scammers pretend to be a trusted business or government agency in order to add credibility.
Playing on emotions
Scammers rely on emotion to get you to make a quick decision before you have time to think about it. They usually present you with an “emergency” situation or a limited-time offer.
What you can do
Do not be pressured into making fast decisions. Instead, take time to research the organization. Never provide your personal information, such as your address, date of birth, banking information or ID numbers, to people you do not know. Do not click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
If you are unsure about a call or email that claims to be from your bank, utility company, etc., call the business directly using the number on your bill or credit card. Never send money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card to someone you do not know or have not met in person. Never send money for an emergency situation unless you can verify the emergency.
- Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker
- For information on investment scams, go to BBB Smart Investing
- To search for a business in the United States or Canada go to BBB.org or call the BBB at 414-847-6000
- For information on charities, go to Give.org
- For information on U.S. government services, go to USA.gov