The US economy is heavily reliant on the financial sector, but what about scams? With so much money in play and a large percentage of people being victims, there are many opportunities for exploitation. Here’s our list of some major scams from recent history.

The “top 10 frauds in the world 2020” is a list of top scams that have been seen in the US. The list includes big names such as Bernie Madoff and Ponzi schemes.

The only thing that appears to vary for scammers from year to year is the technology they use to carry out their schemes. Scammers have existed forever. The majority of scams nowadays are carried out online, contacting you via your email, text messages, and bogus websites. While many of these con artists still utilize the phone, the mail, or even in-person techniques to attempt to separate you from your hard-earned money.

The Better Business Bureau reports that in the first eight months of 2021, approximately 75% of customers lost money as a result of a purchasing fraud. Additionally, the annual loss suffered by customers increased from an average of $76 in 2019 to $102 in 2021.

To aid people in fighting these con artists, we’ve compiled a list of the largest, most prevalent scams affecting American consumers this year, along with advice on how to avoid them and how to report frauds if you do fall for one.

The following are a few of the most typical bank frauds, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Related: Three causes of a blocked bank account

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

Fraudulent Overpayments

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By luring you into handing them money directly, many scam artists attempt to go in between you and your money. In most cases, con artists will first send you a bogus check in the mail, but when they realize they’ve given you “too much” cash, they get in touch with you and ask you to deposit the whole check into your bank account and return the excess money back to them by check or wire transfer. Generally speaking, you should get in touch with your bank before depositing checks from individuals you are unfamiliar with.

Photograph courtesy of fizkes/iStock.

2. Auto-Withdrawals from Banks

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In this fraud, a business “qualifies” you for a free trial or a reward by setting up automatic withdrawals from your bank account. Additionally, some businesses may properly charge you for a transaction, but they’ll keep paying you each month because you signed up for a mysterious product or service that needs monthly payment. Use a credit card in place of a debit card to secure your financial details. You don’t give anybody access to your money directly, and unauthorized charges are simpler to challenge.

SB Arts Media/iStock, used with permission.

3. Charitable fraud

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Stealing money in the name of those in need may be the worst fraud imaginable, but it is a tried-and-true scam that we should all be aware of, particularly around the holidays or in the wake of calamities or natural disasters. Scammers phone, mail, or email you asking for donations to assist with a recent catastrophe while posing as a legitimate organization (or one that seems legitimate). Tell them you’ll get in touch with them through the company’s official website or phone number shown there rather than promising to donate right now.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

4. Parental Fraud

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Grandparent scams,” in which con artists phone elderly people under the guise of a grandchild or other relative, are also common over the holidays. They will frequently ask you to transfer them money or give them a gift card so they may get the cash they need while claiming to be in crisis and in need of assistance. It’s a good idea to inform the caller that you will call them back if this occurs to you. That will enable you to get in touch with your relative directly and determine if the request was legitimate or not.

Learn more about additional safeguards against financial exploitation and fraud for senior citizens.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

5. Forgery Scams

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Imposter scams, a hybrid of grandparent and charity scams, often operate as follows: A caller asks you to donate money to their cause or a government agency (think police and firefighter funds). The grift could seem authentic since they can often falsify their caller ID. It’s best to get in touch with the group the individual claims to work for directly and make a gift that way, if you’re motivated, rather than giving over the phone. About impostor frauds, read more.

Image courtesy of Diy13/iStock.

6. Debt collection ripoffs

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Even though dealing with professional debt collectors may be difficult, there are rules they must follow that can help you spot a fraudster. An aggressive “debt collector” might be a front for a con artist. If you’re still unsure if someone approaching you about a debt is legitimate, these warning flags may help you determine whether you’re being targeted. You can also use these example letters to ask for additional details.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

Unclaimed Funds Fraud

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More than $40 billion in unclaimed funds are said to be lying around, largely languishing with state governments, waiting to be reclaimed by their rightful owners. For a share of the money you discover, certain businesses could offer to assist you locate and retrieve unclaimed monies. Paying these fees is unnecessary since you can search for unclaimed property and recover it on government databases for free (or perhaps for a minor processing cost).

B4LLS/iStock, thanks for the photo.

8. Mortgage modification or foreclosure relief scams

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This may be a very scary hoax for folks who are behind on their mortgage payments. These charlatans often promise to save you from going into foreclosure, but they want upfront payments for their “services,” including loan modifications. On documents you don’t understand, they may sometimes even request your signature transferring the title or rights to your property. It’s a good idea to get in touch with a HUD-approved housing counselor if you get mortgage promises that seem too good to be true so they can assist you avoid scams and go through your real payment alternatives.

Ausettha/Istockphoto is credit for the image.

9. Fraudulent Mortgage Closings

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These frauds target householders whose mortgages are about to expire. By posing as a realtor, title company, escrow firm, or other mortgage-related business or agency, they try to keep the purchaser from paying their down payment and/or closing expenses.

It’s crucial to get in touch with individuals and organizations you already know who can confirm if these information demands are authentic, just as with so many other frauds. To assist you in safeguarding your closing money, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has compiled some useful information.

Nortonrsx/iStock is credit for the image.

10. Postal fraud

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It may be a scam if you ever get a letter requesting you to provide money or personal information in exchange for winning a lottery, entering a contest, or taking advantage of an offer for a high-value item like a vehicle or trip. In order to assist you avoid some of the more prevalent ones, the U.S. Postal Service has listed numerous postal or mail fraud schemes.

Photograph courtesy of fizkes/iStock.

11. Love phishing

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Another tried-and-true deception that con artists really like is preying on the grieving. The scammer often attempts to persuade you to fall in love with them so they may demand money from you or coerce you into disclosing personal information like credit card numbers, bank account information, and even your Social Security number. Keep your guard up and avoid sending cash or presents to a romantic interest you haven’t seen in person. These relationships may bankrupt you.

Photograph courtesy of fizkes/iStock.

How to File a Scam Report

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You may report a fraud if you believe you are a victim by:

Photograph courtesy of fizkes/iStock.

How to Prevent Being Scammed

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Despite the prevalence of frauds, you are not totally defenseless. You may take a lot of steps to help defend yourself against frauds and scammers. Some of our favorites are included below.

Photo courtesy of Depositphotos.

1. Using Credit Cards & Payment Apps

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Debit cards, which are tied directly to your bank account, often provide less protection against fraud than credit cards. Additionally, many credit cards also include extra services like extended warranties, price protection, and purchase protection.

In order to add additional security layers, mobile applications (like Apple Pay and Google Pay) provide cutting-edge technology like fingerprint identification and “tokenization,” in which credit card account numbers are swapped out for randomly generated digits. Virtual credit cards also enable internet buyers to conceal their bank accounts.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

2. Checking Bank & Credit Card Statements

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Whatever method of payment you choose, routinely reviewing your bank and credit card accounts for erroneous or questionable transactions will help you identify fraudulent behavior quickly. During times of heavy consumption, such as the holidays, when it’s simpler for fraudulent charges to go through, you may want to do this every day.

Image credit: iStock/Rawpixel.

3. Turning on transaction notifications

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Every time a new modification is made to your account, many banks and other financial organizations provide free transaction notifications. These notifications may assist you in immediately identifying questionable behavior, much like going through your statements.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

4. Taking Initiative

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It’s a good idea to get in touch with your financial institution straight away if you notice anything suspicious when examining statements or notifications. In order to move on with your life and possibly prevent more problems, you will be able to quickly cancel your compromised card(s) and get replacements.

SeventyFour/Istockphoto, source of the image.

5. Being Vigilant

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It’s wise to immediately hang up and contact the business directly if you get a call asking for your payment information or other personal information so you can prevent possible fraud. This applies to your home and cell phone numbers, as well as your Social Security number in particular.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

6. Protecting your Technology

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Is the password on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone? If not, it might be a crucial first line of defense against fraud, so it’s something to think about. Ask a friend or family you can trust for assistance if you’re unclear how to accomplish anything; but, it’s still a good idea to create your own password that only you know.

Additionally, bear in mind that browsers like Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari often release updates to fend against scammers, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re using the most recent version of whichever browser you use. To keep your computer secure and clean, you may also want to think about buying antivirus software.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

7. Thinking twice about public WiFi

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You may want to rethink utilizing the Wi-Fi at your neighborhood coffee shop to do your banking or shopping on your phone. It is commonly known that hackers and con artists steal personal information on public Wi-Fi networks. Because of this, using a virtual private network (VPN) to access the internet when away from home might be a wise decision. Compared to a public network, it is significantly more difficult to intercept any information you would communicate.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

8. Go shopping in a comfortable environment

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You may prevent some of the hassles associated with fraud by only making purchases from reliable and well-known merchants, particularly online. Consider checking out the Better Business Bureau website to learn more about a new store you wish to do business with if you have any reservations. Using Google’s Transparency Report tool, you can also examine the condition of their website.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

9. Recognizing Skimmers

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Does that gas station or ATM have a strange-looking pump? Skimmers are often installed by con artists at locations where customers swipe their credit and debit cards. Every time you use one of these devices, your payment information, including PIN numbers, is stolen. Examine the reader carefully that you are using to swipe your card. Report it to the establishment if it seems suspect.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

10. Steer clear of “Phishers”

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Did you get a weird notice from your bank or pharmacy? How about a text message from AT&T that your phone bill has been paid as a “gift”? It’s possible the unsolicited offer you receive is a “phishing” scheme. Scammers often pose as a legitimate company or website in order to get you to click on a link that either asks for personal info or downloads malware on your device. They can use emails or even texts to try to get you to bite. If it looks fishy, avoid clicking on any links or downloading any attachments.

DepositPhotos.com, source of the image.

Additional Advice

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Although following this advice will help you stay safe and keep your money in your pockets, it cannot ensure that you won’t become a victim. Here are a few more considerations that might improve your general awareness.

Michael Krinke provided the photo.

The Foundations

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It’s nearly always a good idea to keep things simple, and this rule also applies to avoiding frauds. While you’re checking out when purchasing online, it’s really essential to make sure the website’s address begins with HTTPS rather than simply HTTP.

That indicates that all of your data will be secured since it has a Secure Sockets Layer certificate. You can recognize safe websites by the little padlock symbol in the URL bar of your browser.

Photo courtesy of RobertAx/iStock.

Bad Reviews 2.

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Since scammers aren’t renowned for leaving positive internet evaluations, you may want to seriously consider doing business with someone else if the firm you’re contemplating buying from has a lot of negative ratings (or none at all).

Picture Source: HAKINMHAN/iStock.

3. Words Do Count

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Is the website you’re thinking about buying from rife with typos and grammatical mistakes? Typos may be a clue of con artists, so you might want to think twice before making a purchase from that website if what you’re reading seems a bit wrong. Additionally, it’s a good idea to look for any minor variations in website urls (think Bestbyy.com instead of BestBuy.com).

Pheelings Media/iStock is credit for the image.

4. Strength Is Important

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Your password’s strength might be crucial, but what constitutes “strong”? Long phrases like song lyrics that are simple to remember may also be used as strong passwords. Strong passwords often include a random mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. Remember to modify your logins since using the same password on many websites really exposes you to additional risk.

Istockphoto provided the image.

5. Personal safety

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Keep your handbag and/or wallet close by and safe at all times while you’re shopping at a physical store. In particular during the holidays when shops are busier, this can include putting your wallet in an inner pocket and wearing your handbag strap over your head. In fact, packing little may be the best strategy for preventing the theft of your wallet or handbag. Traveling light is what? Think about leaving your cash and checkbook at home and just bringing one card with you to the shop.

Chaby Bucko provided the photo.

The Lesson

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There are clear methods you can assist protect yourself, even though there will probably always be someone ready to con others out of their money. Being vigilant and trusting your gut feelings might assist, but taking security precautions and remembering some crucial advice will make it more difficult for crooks to steal your money.

Study More:

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

SoFi Finance SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC, provides a brokerage product called SoFi Money that is a cash management account. SoFi and its affiliates are not banks. The Bancorp Bank issuing the SoFi Money Debit Card. Customers may now access ATMs at any of the 55,000+ ATMs in the Allpoint network thanks to a partnership between SoFi and Allpoint. While third party costs spent while using out-of-network ATMs are not refundable, consumers will not be charged a price when utilizing an in-network ATM. The ATM policies at SoFi are subject to modification at any moment, at our discretion. Outside Websites: SoFi cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information and analysis supplied via connections to third-party websites, even if SoFi believes it to be correct. Links are given only for informative reasons and are not intended as recommendations. Linked Brand Mentions: SoFi is not connected to any of the companies or goods mentioned, and they don’t support or fund this post either. The proprietors of any third-party trademarks mentioned herein are indicated.

Aleksandar Georgiev provided the photo.

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Brinkley-Badgett, Constance

Brinkley-Badgett, Constance is MediaFeed’s executive editor. She has more than 20 years of experience in digital, broadcast and print journalism, as well as several years of agency experience in content marketing. She has served as a digital producer at NBC Nightly News, Senior Producer at CNBC, Managing Editor at ICF Next, and as a tax reporter at Bloomberg BNA.

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