Scamming someone is all about playing on their most basic emotions – fear, greed or love. But, before a scammer can play on your emotions, they first need to gain your confidence. For this reason, more scammers than ever are going to elaborate lengths to pose as people that we trust.
For example, a scammer might send you a text message claiming to be your granddaughter. They might say that they have been in an accident and that they are using a friend’s phone to text you. Then, knowing that your fear for your granddaughter may override your common sense, they might ask you to send money to cover a doctor’s bill.
More recently, scammers have been taking a new approach to gaining the confidence of their victims. I’d like to shine some light on this dirty trick so that you aren’t blindsided by it in the future.
In order to gain our confidence, scammers have started to imitate the very regulators who aim to protect us from scammers. For example, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which is on a mission to protect investors from scammers, recently said that it has seen con artists using its name in emails.
Here’s how one such scam might work. You receive an email from someone claiming to be with FINRA. They tell you that you are entitled to a payment of $100,000 because you were the victim of a stock scam.
Of course, 99% of the people who receive the same email were not the victim of fraud. Unfortunately for you, last year you actually were a victim of a scam. The amount that you lost was much less than $100,000, but, you start thinking to yourself that maybe there were punitive damages awarded.
You respond to the email and are told that all you need to do to unlock the settlement money is to pay a $2,500 processing fee. So, you pay the money and… well, I think you know the rest of the story!
If you receive an email from an organization like the IRS or FINRA and you are genuinely not sure if it is real, the best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to follow up with the agency directly.
Be careful though! Many scammers will include a link in their email to an official looking website. It may even have much of the same content that you would expect to see on the real website. So, don’t ever click on a link in a suspicious email.
Do you own research. Find the correct website independently. Call the official support telephone number or the IRS or FINRA. They are there to help you!
Let’s fight back against scammers together!
Has anyone that you know been a victim of a scam or identity theft? What do you do if you get a suspicious email but you aren’t sure if it is real or not? Let’s have a chat!