Why it’s easier than you think to get scammed

For a lot of people, the idea of being fooled by a scam is a tough pill to swallow. We often think that only ‘other people’ fall for the tricks of scammers. Sometimes, that makes us ignore red flags, to be defensive, and to hold out longer than we should when our money is at risk

But here’s the truth – it’s easier to get scammed than you’d think. Here’s why:

Scammers twist your emotions.

Too often, scammers bypass our brains and go straight for our hearts. When our emotions get involved, it’s easy to forget that what we’re seeing might be a scam.

Within hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, scammers had crafted fake emails, website pop-ups, and text messages asking for support for people displaced by the violence. They capitalized on heart wrenching realities and twisted them into realistic looking appeals for help.

Sometimes, it can be closer to home. It might be someone pretending to be your kid, your grandchild, or someone else you love. Scammers reach out over texts, emails, or even phone calls and ask for help, saying that they’re in trouble. They need money right away to stay safe or to get home. Too often, by the time people stop and realize that they may have been lied to, it’s too late.

Scammers are counting on you using your heart before your head. When a message asking you for money is clothed in an emotional plea, be sure to verify who you’re talking to.

There’s more than one lie

Scammers are nothing if not committed. The days of an email from a foreign prince may have passed, but in its place are more advanced scams with layers of deception.

For instance, scammers have taken to approaching people to invest in cryptocurrencies. They provide a website for their “financial services” business, a separate site about the cryptocurrency, Wikipedia articles, and more. Scammers have made it difficult to spot the lies by adding more of them.

In cases like these, it’s so important to do your homework. Use Google to search and confirm names and addresses. Google’s reverse image search can help identify phony images. You can also try calling the office phone numbers instead of the direct line or mobile number provided by the person you’re considering sending money to. If you’re still in doubt, call your bank before moving your money. Their fraud prevention department can help.

They get your info in clever ways

Does this kind of Facebook post sound familiar?

What’s your movie star name? Put together your Mom’s maiden name and the name of the first street you lived on. Post your movie star name and like your favourites!

Pretty standard sounding social media stuff. But, if you look closer, this post is asking for information that many people use in their passwords. With software and time, scammers can dive through data to try to unlock your secure accounts.

What’s the takeaway? Be careful what you share. You may be giving away important information under the guise of social media fun.

These are just some of the ways that it’s easier than you think to get scammed. But don’t let regret or embarrassment stop you from taking action. If you think you may be experiencing a scam or have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, contact your bank’s fraud prevention department. You can reach Manulife Bank at 1-877-765-2265.