- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I feel like this is a rule of life that goes back as far as time. If someone approaches you online claiming you have some insane inheritance or you won some exorbitant amount of money (or physical prize) then chances are it is too good to be true. This is especially true with things you have never even heard of. No, you didn’t inherit 30 million dollars from some relative you didn’t know existed. No, you didn’t just win some prize you never even entered for.
- Ask lots of questions, always. Anyone who is legitimately contacting you about something you won or are otherwise entitled won’t mind asking questions. Scammers however, tend to get uneasy when asked a lot of questions. Also, don’t be afraid to find alternative contact methods for the company you think you are talking to. Companies won’t mind being approached to verify if something with their name on it is legit or not.
- NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER pay money to claim a prize! If anyone ever asks you to pay money for a prize it is a scam. Never pay shipping, never pay fees, never pay ANYTHING for a prize you won!
- RED FLAGS: Western Union, Cashiers Checks and Money Orders. This is probably one of the biggest red flags of any scam. Western Union, Cashiers Checks and Money Orders are a non-refundable system of payments. The reason that scammers want these forms of payment is because they can easily cash out and disappear with no risk of you getting your money back. Increasingly online scammers are asking for credit card numbers over various messaging platforms! NEVER, EVER SEND CREDIT CARD INFORMATION THROUGH MESSAGING!
- Stranger Danger. Be especially skeptical of people randomly contacting you. Not all online people contacting you are going to be scammers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be skeptical when conversations with a new person initially starts. Just as you would have a guard up in person if a stranger approached you telling you they had money for you, have your guard up online.
- Spelling matters. I am certainly not the best person when it comes to grammar or spelling (in fact, I think I am rather horrible at it). That said, I am pretty sure that you can tell that English is my native language. Any company contacting you about a prize (or anything else) will have decent language skills. Typos are okay, but most scammers are going to type, chat and talk as though English is not their native language (they are usually from other countries).
- But they said it isn’t a scam? Then it probably is. Most reputable companies, businesses and bloggers would SHOW you why they aren’t a scam. Not just tell you. People can say anything they want.
- Block the scammers. If you think you are being contacted by a scammer, block them from talking to you any further. Trust your gut instinct on these things, and it really goes back to RULE #1: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Online scams are here to stay. So long as the internet is here, scammers will be here as well. Knowledge is power, if you know what to look for you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim. As always, if you need help identifying if something is a scam or not, message me on Facebook. I will help you out, even if it has nothing to do with my website.