You may have noticed that we are having a huge problem here at The Paycheck Chronicles with spam comments. I apologize - we are trying to get the problem fixed. At the same time, my email server has suddenly started allowing a lot of spam to get through. Between the two of them, I feel like I'm constantly being bombarded with offers for crazy no-credit-check loans and lottery winnings.
Usually, it is obvious when an email or website comment is spam. Unfortunately, spammers are tricky and they are getting better at making their offers look more legitimate. It seemed like a good time to review some of the current scams out there.
Fake US ServicemembersI get a shocking number of emails from women who have developed online relationships with people who claim to be US servicemembers serving overseas. Usually, they are asking for money to pay for their travel to see the woman, or to be allowed out of their military contract. It is absolutely appalling.
In short, if you don't know a person in real life, NEVER, EVER assume that they are who they say they are. I know that people develop real relationships online, but be very skeptical. Also, know that the US government never requires servicemember to pay for their own travel home from overseas, and that you can't buy your way out of a military contract.
Guaranteed Loan or Credit CardSolicitations that promise that you will absolutely be given a loan or credit card are always lies. I've even seen them guaranteeing that they can give you a home mortgage! The scam usually involves you paying a large application fee. Don't be fooled! Legitimate companies do charge annual fees on credit cards, but they are applied to the credit card balance and never paid up front.
Phishing Emails and Phony WebsitesCon men have gotten very skilled at creating fake websites that look exactly like a company's legitimate website. They usually lure you to their website by sending an email informing you that your account has been compromised and asking you to "log in" to your account. By linking you to a fake website, the scammers can gather your account login information and steal from you. I get these emails claiming to be from Paypal at least three times per week. If you ever get an email that sounds like it fits this profile, look up your company's telephone number and call to verify the information contained in the email.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) keeps an up-to-date website of the most common and current internet scams out there. It is a great resource if something looks at little funny to you.
The internet is a fabulous tool and has made our lives easier and more complicated at the same time. Using a little extra caution is always a good thing. Be safe out there!