You should be suspicious of anything that sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Be sceptical - research any free offers, give-aways, special promotions etc.
Learn how to protect yourself against scam. Here is a list of some of the popular scams to be aware of.
Microsoft Tech Support Phone Scam
This is a common scam making the rounds. You should not respond to phone calls from people claiming to be tech support from Microsoft.
Do not trust unsolicited calls. Do not provide any personal information.
For more information go to the Microsoft Safety and Security Center.
The Bermuda Police Service has also issued warnings to the public about the Microsoft Scam.
Phishing (pronounced fishing)
Under no circumstances do banks send e-mails asking you for any personal information or to confirm debit/credit card numbers, account numbers, personal access numbers nor Internet Banking logon information.
Also called carding or brand spoofing is a fraud scam used to steal your personal and financial information such as credit card numbers, bank account information and passwords.
This can be done through the use of fraudulent e-mail, although it can also occur over the phone, via SMS text message (SmiShing) or via postal mail.
BEWARE! Phishing criminals are getting smarter and their efforts are getting results.
These hoax e-mails can look genuine, using the company’s logo and format, and a link which leads to a web site that seems genuine, but isn’t.
E-mails from genuine banks don’t include links. If you get one of these e-mails do not respond and do not click on any of the links. Close the e-mail message immediately.
If you receive suspicious e-mails forward them to your bank.
The sole purpose of this scam is to conduct illegal transactions on your account and steal your money.
In addition to stealing personal and financial information, and your money, phishers can infect computers with viruses and convince people to participate unsuspectingly in money laundering.
Suspect Fraud? Report it to your local bank:
Clarien Bank Online Security Information
HSBC Online Security Information
For more information and tips about safety online, we recommend visiting Bank Safe Online.
Social Networking Scams
Social Networking Scams are growing in popularity. People are using fake profiles or groups impersonating people and organizations for malicious purposes. Not only do these criminals cause financial losses for victims but they can also damage your reputation.
BEWARE! Scammers will use social networks to target victims with scams. Remember to use privacy settings and stay away from people you do not know. Scammers are very smart and can lull you into a false sense of security.
Eight tips to avoid being scammed:
- Do not share your personal details and be very careful what information you share and post online and with whom you share it. It is very possible that anyone who really wants to see this information will find a way to see it;
- Do not post your date of birth, address, information about your family, your daily routine, holiday plans, or any information about your children;
- Set your online social networking profiles to private and check it regularly to ensure it stays private. Never give out your account details or passwords. Update your computer security software on a regular basis and make sure that your security software is strong and up-to-date;
- Make sure that you have strong passwords and change them regularly - have a different password for each of your social networking sites so that if one password is stolen, not all of your accounts will be at risk;
- Beware of any hoax password reset e-mails and messages on social networks;
- Do not accept a friend request, a request to join a group or a follow request from a stranger. Scammers will impersonate to manipulate - do not let them into your life;
- If you receive an unexpected request for money from what appears to be a friend or family member, contact your friend via another means to check the request is genuine before responding or providing money. Do not use any of the contact details in the message;
- Never click on suspicious links on social networking sites – even if they are from your friends.
Another growing problem is counterfeit Bermuda currency being circulated, specifically the legacy currency series printed between 1994 and 2000.
Counterfeit bills can range from poor quality to those that resemble the real thing.
The key is to know what to look for and if you receive them do not try to pass them on, instead contact the police.
There is quite a bit of useful information on counterfeit currency on the Bermuda Police Service web-site.
Multi-Level Marketing Schemes
On the surface a multi-level marketing scheme appears to be an attractive business opportunity to involve your network of friends and family, sell products and make a lot of money.
You have the support of a multi-level marketing company who supplies the product, with marketing support and sometimes training. They will not call themselves a multi-level marketing scheme and some do not actually sell a product or service, they may just offer an investment opportunity.
Most multi-level marketing businesses offer a plan that claims that you will receive commissions by selling their product as well as commissions on the sales of people you recruit.
Typically, you sign up, send money for the product or business package and your recruits do the same and their recruits do the same. Everyone is sending the multi-level marketing company money to be a member.
The whole scheme depends on you recruiting people to distribute the product and of course the people you recruit must recruit and on and on it goes. Not all multi-level marketing schemes are fraudulent. A legit multi-level marketing business is designed to move product through a large distribution network.
If you are considering joining a multi-level marketing business, do your research. As with any business venture, investigate the business and its products first.
Get as much information as you can, including copies of their sales literature, business plan and/or marketing plan. There is a ton of information on the Internet, use it to your advantage.
Talk to other people who have experience with the multi-level marketing company and the products, to determine whether the products are actually being sold and whether they are making good money.
If the plan is designed so that your income is derived solely from signing up people, in other words you receive a commission on your new recruits rather than selling the product, it is likely fraudulent and a pyramid scheme and you will be wasting your time and more importantly throwing away your money.
The odds of actually making money in these schemes are about the same as winning the lottery.
Fraudulent multi-level marketing schemes and/or pyramid schemes are designed so that those at the top continue to make money off of a continuous influx of new investors.
In most cases when the business is unable to recruit new investors the money stops coming in and the business collapses. The business collapses and all but a very few at the top lose their money.
Most of these schemes are operated from overseas and if you are in Bermuda and things go wrong there is very little recourse. How will you find the people who are responsible for your financial losses?
Locals who are operating these schemes; remember, under the Consumer Protection Act 1999, it is illegal to operate a pyramid scheme in Bermuda (it is an unconscionable act) and a violation of this Act carries a $15,000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.
It is difficult to determine the exact amount of people who fall prey to these scams because most victims of scams are embarrassed and often keep this information private.
However, it is a fact that scammers are enjoying success in Bermuda.
How Do Scams Succeed?
Scams succeed primarily because they can look like the real thing and they manipulate you or push your buttons to get the response they want.
Additionally, a lot of people actually believe that get rich schemes work — if that were the case these schemes would be closely guarded and they would not need your money.
Here are a few tips to avoid being scammed;
- Take the time to educate yourself on the various scams out there and understand how they work, especially pyramid schemes and phishing.
- Don’t make a financial decision until you have done all of your research thoroughly.
- When you are doing your research, be objective and pay attention to your instincts — remember, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is.
- Don’t trust companies or web-sites you don’t know.
Anyone can set up a web site and make it look like a legitimate business.
- Don’t feel obligated to return the favour if a scammer gives you a gift; they are relying on you to feel like you owe them something.
- Don’t feel like you are missing out because of limited supply, available space or time will run out. Scammers like to pressure you to act ‘now’.
- Don’t be fooled by official looking letterhead, celebrity endorsements or testimonials — check to make sure all of this is credible first.
- Remember, when you are making financial decisions use your head and not your heart.
- Separate your emotions and base any decision on solid credible information that you have researched thoroughly.
- Don’t be afraid to get assistance from someone you know that is credible and can help you make a decision.
- If you suspect you are being targeted by scammers, contact the police.