Every one of us might have been victims of that occasional scam call or email, trying to trick us into a trap. Some of my experiences are listed below, few things you must watch out for.
1) You get a call from ‘Microsoft’ warning you against malware attack
I got a call while I was at the airport. The ‘expert’ on the other side with a fake American accent gave me a ‘timely warning’ that my Windows laptop is vulnerable to attacks and someone is trying to steal sensitive data. I played along, asking him how to fix the problem. He ‘guided’ me well, instructing me to go to a website and put in a particular string on a form, which would give him control of my Windows, so he could ‘fix’ it. I need to pay him only $250.
I asked with curiosity in my voice, how he was able to detect that my computer was infected. He prompt replied that they used a cloud-based software that gave them information from all Windows operating systems, and about their affiliation with Microsoft. I further sought to know how he got my mobile number and was lied to, again. Finally, I revealed to him that I use a Macbook pro and never a Windows laptop and that I wondered what makes him tell me that my Windows laptop was infected. Dang! He disconnected the call.
Later during my flight, I pondered over what happened. It was possible that if these people reached out to some senior citizens with limited technological knowledge, they would easily extract $250 per person over this scam. People could lose money over absolutely nothing. What a shame!
2) Your Business has been selected to be “The Best Mobile App Development Company in the US.”
A representative from an organization calls you to let you know that your business was chosen to receive an award and conditions require that you pay them $3000. Now, people with common sense would at least ask how they qualified for the selection without their customers/partners being interviewed about their service/product they received. They would think about the sudden recognition that popped up over no previous correspondences of any sort. If you’re required to pay $8000 to receive an award for your business, a scam can be suspected, rather than it being a genuine appreciation for your business. Some skip these thoughts and fall prey to such money extortion.
This scam comes from low profile organizations under different names, so be watchful. Having your business featured by a scam organization/magazine could destroy your reputation. I’d suggest investing the $8000 within your business for getting one step closer to success, or for any good cause.
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3) Appointment Setting Services
This is the most interesting scam in the United States; companies offering you cold calling services that would set you appointments with hot leads. Not that all of them are fake, but it is always better to think about a few things before wasting a lot of your money in fruitless trials.
First of all, the heydays of cold-calling have significantly waned. It’s not easy for someone outside to learn about your business quickly and get lucky in sales. When an ignorant person calls on your behalf, mostly your brand name could get tarnished. Their mass emailing could also get your domain blacklisted for spamming or even land you in a lawsuit.
Before availing such services to sell your product or services, you should make a detailed assessment. Maybe, give it a try yourself first, to understand how far lucky anyone can get when they make cold calls to prospective customers.
4) Business Summits in the Americas
A person calls you on the phone and walks you through a web page containing Fortune 100 companies’ decision makers lined up for a special business summit in an American venue. This person sounds unbelievably genuine and does such a great job that if you were to search for this list on Linkedin, you’d see that they very much exist and have a high reputation. Now, the catch is that you need to make a payment of $30,000 to attend the event, and you’re sure to secure some meetings with these decision makers.
A simple internet search, at times, will reveal to you that these are scams. When I received a similar call, I immediately rang up a couple of hotels in the area to find out whether such a summit existed, but they seemed to have no idea about the event.
5) IRS or State Department calling for payment collection
Seriously fake! Don’t freak out and fall for this stuff.
The IRS will not ask you to make a payment using a credit card or gift card or the Western Union or Moneygram. They will send you notice at your mailing address, or a field officer will visit your office.
6) Rental Scam
This is a real story that happened to my friend. He put up a listing for his apartment, and an ‘interested’ person rang him up. As the deal finalized, he was sent a check for a deposit. A genuine check came in from another American city. The amount was higher than what he requested, so the person asked him to send the additional money back, as it was a mistake by his US agent who sent the check. Now, the tricky part is that the money showed up in his account the next day, and he transferred the additional money back to the person. But the check bounced after a couple of days.
As is a standard norm with most American banks, check deposit amounts show up in your account even before the bank has collected it.
If you ever get scammed this way, make sure you report to the cyber fraud detection services in your country. It is critical to cut down such scams not just for yourself, but also for others. In the US, you can report all such internet scams to FBI website, and in India, you have a local cyber cell in every city. If you are not sure, ring up directory services and ask for cyber crime reporting services. Make sure you report the fraud.
Hope this post helps someone. Stay safe people, God Bless.