Common place scams to be aware of and protect yourself from

Last Updated: December 6, 2023Categories: News

Scams are constantly evolving, but there are a few that remain at the top of the list of concerns for consumers. Here are some of the most common scams to be aware of:

1. Phishing scams

Phishing scams involve scammers sending emails or text messages that appear to be from legitimate organisations, such as banks, credit card companies, or government agencies. These messages often contain links or attachments that, if clicked, can take you to a fake website that looks like the real one. Once you enter your personal information on the fake site, the scammers can steal it and use it to commit identity theft or fraud.

2. Investment scams

Investment scams involve scammers promising high returns on your investment with little or no risk. These scams can take many forms, such as Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, and investment scams involving cryptocurrency or precious metals. The goal of these scams is to get you to invest your money, and then the scammers will disappear with your money.

3. Tech support scams

Tech support scams involve scammers calling or emailing you pretending to be from a tech support company. They may tell you that your computer has been infected with malware or that your identity has been stolen. They will then offer to fix your problem for a fee, but once you pay them, they will disappear and you will still have a problem.

Cell Phone scams are common in South Africa, you will get a call from someone saying someone is trying to port your number and they will “send” you some codes that they need. What they are doing is getting control over your spend limits and will steal from your cell phone balance or contract.

4. Online shopping scams

Online shopping scams involve scammers creating fake websites or social media profiles that sell counterfeit goods or goods that they do not have in stock. They may also try to steal your personal information, such as your credit card number, when you make a purchase. Check their reviews or comments on Facebook/ Google reviews etc. You can also read their details, like delivery details, refunds policy and contact details. A website that does not have a customer support number, is suspect.

5. Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is a popular platform for buying and selling goods, but it is also a target for scammers. Scammers use a variety of methods to trick victims into giving them money or personal information.

Common Facebook Marketplace Scams

Fake payment confirmations: Scammers may send you a fake email or text message that appears to be from Facebook Marketplace, confirming that you have received payment for an item you have sold. They will then ask you to ship the item to them before you have actually received the payment.
Counterfeit currency: Scammers may pay for an item with counterfeit currency. You may not be able to tell that the currency is counterfeit until you try to deposit it at your bank.
Stolen goods: Scammers may sell stolen goods on Facebook Marketplace. If you buy a stolen item, you could be charged with possession of stolen property.

6. Remote job scams

Remote job scams involve scammers posting fake job listings that promise high pay and little or no work. These scams often target people who are looking for work from home. Once you apply for the job, the scammers will ask you to pay a fee or to send them your personal information.

7. Romance Scams

Romance scams are a type of fraud that involves scammers creating fake online personas to gain the trust and affection of victims, then manipulating them into sending money or other valuables. These scams can be devastating for victims, both emotionally and financially.

How to protect yourself from scams

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from scams:

Be suspicious of any unsolicited emails, text messages, or phone calls that ask for your personal information or money.
Never click on links or open attachments in emails or text messages from people you don’t know.
Do your research before investing in anything. Stop – Independently Verify.
Don’t pay for tech support upfront.
Only shop on websites that you trust.
Be careful about sharing personal information online.
When shopping online, use a credit card, or even better, a single use virtual credit card. The reason is, credit card transactions are insured.

Red Flags for Common Scams

Scams come in many shapes and sizes, but they often share some common red flags. By being aware of these red flags, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.

General Red Flags

Unsolicited requests for personal information or money: Be cautious of any unsolicited emails, text messages, or phone calls that ask for your personal information, such as your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account numbers. Scammers often use this information to commit identity theft or fraud.
Promises of high returns with little or no risk: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often lure victims with promises of high returns on investments or easy money-making opportunities. Be sceptical of any investment or business opportunity that guarantees high returns with little or no risk.
Pressure to act quickly: Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency to pressure you into making a decision without thinking clearly. They may tell you that you need to act immediately to qualify for an offer or to avoid losing money. Don’t let the pressure get to you. Take your time and do your research before making any decisions.
Requests for upfront payments: Be wary of any requests for upfront payments, especially for tech support or job opportunities. Legitimate companies rarely ask for upfront payments before providing services or hiring employees.
Poor grammar and spelling: Scammers often use poorly written emails or websites with grammatical errors and typos. This can be a sign that the communication is not from a legitimate organization.

Specific Scams

In addition to these general red flags, there are also specific red flags to look out for each type of scam:

Phishing Scams:

Links that don’t go to the real website: Hover your mouse over any links in emails or text messages to see if the URL looks legitimate. If the URL doesn’t match the expected website, it may be a phishing scam.
Emails from unfamiliar senders: Be cautious of emails from senders you don’t recognize. Scammers often spoof the email addresses of legitimate organisations to make their emails look more convincing.

Investment Scams:

Unregistered investments: Check with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to make sure the investment you’re considering is registered.
Unlicensed brokers: Be wary of investment opportunities that are promoted by unlicensed brokers.
Pressure tactics: Scammers may try to pressure you into investing by making you feel like you’re missing out on a great opportunity.

Tech Support Scams:

Unsolicited calls or pop-ups: Legitimate tech support companies will not call you out of the blue or send you pop-ups warning you that your computer is infected.
Requests for remote access: Never give anyone remote access to your computer unless you are absolutely certain of their legitimacy.

Online Shopping Scams:

Fake websites: Check the website’s URL and make sure it looks legitimate. Scammers often create fake websites that look very similar to real websites.
Unfavourable return policies: Be wary of websites with unfavourable return policies or that make it difficult to contact customer service.

Facebook Marketplace Scams:

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from Facebook Marketplace scams:

Only communicate and complete transactions on Facebook Marketplace: Never communicate or complete transactions with buyers or sellers outside of Facebook Marketplace. This will help protect you from phishing scams and other fraudulent activity.
Be wary of too-good-to-be-true deals: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often use low prices to lure victims into their scams.Upfront payments to “secure” the item are also suspect and should be avoided.
Do your research: Before you buy an item from a seller, check their profile and reviews. You should also be wary of sellers who have no reviews or negative reviews.
Use secure payment methods: Facebook Marketplace offers a variety of secure payment methods, such as Facebook Pay. Never pay for an item with cash, wire transfer, or gift card.
Meet in a safe public place: If you are meeting a buyer or seller in person, meet in a safe public place during the day. You should also let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
Wait for payment to reflect in your bank account, never trust a POP.

What to Do If You Think You’ve Been Scammed

If you think you’ve been scammed on Facebook Marketplace, you can report it to Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also contact your local law enforcement agency.

Remote Job Scams:

Requests for personal information: Legitimate employers will not ask for personal information, such as your Social Security number, before you have been hired.
Requests for upfront payments: Scammers may ask you to pay for training materials or other fees before you start the job.

Romance Scams:

Love-bombing: Scammers often shower victims with affection and compliments very quickly to gain their trust.
Requests for money: Scammers will eventually ask for money, often claiming it is for an emergency or to visit the victim.
Refusal to meet in person: Scammers will often make excuses for why they can’t meet in person or video chat.

By being aware of these red flags, you can protect yourself from falling victim to scams. If you think you may have been the victim of a scam, report it to the appropriate authorities. The first and best thing is to report it to SAPS, even if you think it’s futile.. there is a website that you can use too