Don’t Lighten Your Wallet With Scams

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Holy handout, you just received an e-mail telling you—yes, YOU!—that you’re the winner of the $1 million 2011 Facebook Sweepstakes!

And as if that wasn't lucky enough, another e-mail arrived informing you there’s a 55-pound trunk from the U.K. (via Africa) filled with $2.8 million in cash waiting for you at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta.

This is certainly your lucky day! But before you call the boss and tell him your 9-5 days are over, take a deep breath. Repeat to yourself, “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” Why would the owner of Facebook simply hand over $1 million to you? How did some big trunk from Africa filled with millions of dollars in cash find it’s way to you at an airport in Atlanta?

These events are simply scams meant to separate you from your hard-earned money. If you respond to the e-mails, you’ll likely be asked to provide personal information like bank account, credit card and Social Security numbers. After that, you’ll be losing money, not receiving it. Victims lose billons of dollars to these types of scams each year. Don’t fall prey to the allure of quick and easy riches.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some advice for avoiding scams. Let’s take a look at their suggestions:

  • Job Search. In the present economy, many have lost their jobs. Scammers prey on those who are unemployed with promises of well-paying jobs. Many are desperate enough to try anything. Beware of any job offer (work-at-home-scheme/business opportunity) that promises big money for minimal work or no experience.
  • Fine Print. It’s almost a cliché, but be sure to read the fine print, especially with things like trial offers. The BBB receives thousands of calls each year from consumers who were duped into signing up for something that ended up costing hundreds more a month than they were prepared to pay. Always read the terms and conditions carefully before providing credit or debit card numbers.
  • Computer Safety. Does your computer have anti-virus software installed? If so, when was the last time it was updated? Never open attachments or click on e-mail links unless you know the message came from someone you trust.
  • Wired. Many scammers want you to wire money to them, knowing full well such activity through places like Western Union or MoneyGram is extremely difficult to trace. Don’t wire money to someone you don’t know, ever.
  • Bad Checks. Technology of today allows scammers to create fake checks that look very authentic. Because you’re likely not an expert on forgery, protect yourself from these fake checks by not falling for checks that arrive stating that you’ve won a lottery or government grant. Once again, if it sounds too good to be true …

It’s not a bad idea to check with the BBB if you have doubts about a business. Nearly 4000,000 businesses meet BBB standards and are qualified to use an Accredited Business seal on their websites and business locations. You can check out business reviews for nearly 4 million businesses on the BBB website.

Vantage can help members with the scam known as identity theft with our Vantage Identity Protection (VIP) program. VIP provides comprehensive protection against identity theft and fraud, increasing your protection and improving security.