At some point, we've all fallen for a prank. And while most pranks are all in good fun, falling for a scam or fraud can have more wide-ranging consequences. For example, consumers who fall for a common financial scam or fraud may view their credit reports and credit scores* only to find that there have been a number of changes due to purchases or account openings they never authorized.
It might not sound common, but this type of incident affects millions of consumers across the United States every day, costing them time, effort and their good financial standing. However, if consumers exercise caution and remember to follow the advice of credit experts, they may be able to avoid scams and the financial damage they cause.
Common Scams and Frauds That Affect Consumers
Phishing scams are arguably the most common and often publicized scam that affects consumers financially. In these scams, fraudsters use email communications to pose as banks, credit card companies or charity organizations in order to glean the personal information of consumers. However, other less common scams can be more creative.
For example, consumers have reported falling victim to other types of fraud that include stimulus scams, IRS and voter registration scams, in which fraudsters pose as government officials, and work-from-home and lottery scams that promise consumers big winnings or the benefits of fraudulent products in exchange for their personal data.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
To avoid scams, credit experts advise that consumers remain vigilant. This means watching for signs of tampering or suspicious activity in restaurants, stores and gas stations, using cash when appropriate and checking their bank accounts and credit card statements regularly.
Consumers should put a similarly watchful eye on their emails so they can verify all ecommerce websites. Similarly, by ignoring suspicious offers, consumers can avoid contracting viruses, spyware and other computer-based maladies that may cause them temporary or long-term financial damage.
Why Scams Successfully Dupe Consumers
While falling for a scam may leave consumers with regret and anger, most scammers and fraudsters are sophisticated in their methods. As such, even consumers who invest in fraud prevention software, check their credit reports regularly and use credit monitoring may find that they compromise their finances unknowingly.
The fact of the matter is that, despite the best attempts of consumers, scammers are adaptive, clever and well-funding, making them a worthy opponent, even for individuals who focus on precautions and watch for warning signs.