Five Minutes Could Save You $500 Or More
Many of the common scams that consumers face today seem like common sense to most people. There are some outrageous stories and schemes that scammers promote, and their victims buy into them. One major reason for this is that prospect scam victims are using emotional judgements when they are engaging the scammer. Emotional responses are a scammers best friend because it means their victim is not using all their intellect to make decisions. It is something they will capitalize on throughout the scam. Think about these examples:
Romance Scam – A lonely widow finds a love interest who, by all appearances, cares for her. The scammer is fulfilling an emotional and relational need. The romance scam victim will defend the relationship, even when asked to do questionable things
Government Imposter Scam – An elderly man is contacted by the FBI and informed that his social security number is linked to criminal activity. The fake FBI agent may cajole or threaten him to send money for legal expenses to keep him out of prison
Tech Support Scam – An unsuspecting consumer may be convinced by a tech support scammer that they mistaken refunded too much, causing an overpayment. The scammer may plead or threaten the consumer into buying gift cards or sending funds other ways
The point is that, in the moment, those being scammed do not use their best judgement. They opt to react rather than to think through a response. Somehow, consumers need to be made aware that just taking a breath and thinking could stop them from losing money due to scams. Taking a mere five minutes to think through what is being asked of them could be the difference in losing $500 or more (hence, Five Minutes Could Save You $500 Or More).
Here are a few ideas based on the payment methods often employed by scammers:
Pause It Before You Deposit – Many scams utilize fraudulent check deposits as the basis for the funds. The scammer will convince their victim to send the money once the deposit is made available (before the return). The victim’s account will then be overdrawn when the check returns
Think Hard Before You Gift Card – Multiple scams involve consumers being told to purchase gift cards. They will relay the gift card information to the scammer, who can then redeem it. It doesn’t make any sense when you ponder why. Bottom line: gift cards are for gifts; not payments
Inquire Before You Wire – This phrase has been out there for some time, but it can cover a multitude of scam scenarios, including Business Email Compromise and Email Account Compromise. Wires give the scammer the ability to get large amounts of money quick with limited recovery opportunities based on timing
Granted, these ideas are late in the scam. Ideally consumers need to be thinking and responding closer to initial interaction or exposure to the scam or scammer. The next question is how this can be promoted outside of the industry. It may be hard to reach consumers currently unaffected by fraud and scams. It’s like it doesn’t exist; until they get hit.
Ideally industries affected or referenced in the scam should proactively educate consumers. That being said, it is entirely up to the potential scam participant on whether they engage that content if it is offered. Media and social media are additional outlets that should be fully utilized but the challenge is who should promote and pay for it.