Common scams include Nigerian letter fraud, telemarketing fraud and identity theft, says the FBI. Sharing personal information or financial details with strangers can open the way for fraud.
In Nigerian letter fraud, the victim receives a letter presenting an “opportunity” to receive part of a vast fortune banked in Nigeria, reports the FBI. The recipient only has to pay certain fees, taxes or bribes to share in the wealth. The victim is also asked to send sensitive personal information to the letter’s author, including bank account names and numbers. If the victim sends the scammer money, the scammer continues asking for further payments, often describing in detail how the payments are needed to illegally move the promised money out of Nigeria.
When telemarketers insist that people should “act now” or lose out, this is a warning sign of fraud, says the FBI. To avoid telemarketer fraud, people should buy products from familiar companies. Legitimate telemarketing companies are happy to comply with requests for more information about their operations.
To avoid identity theft, people should review their bank statements monthly and report all account discrepancies, advises the FBI. These alerts should reach banks, credit card companies and police. People should review their credit reports at least once per year and follow up on all questionable items.