A Complete Guide To Avoiding Financial Scams

Shot of a young businesswoman talking on a mobile phone during a late night at work.
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In 2021, more than 2.8 million consumers reported that they were victims of scams, with total losses for the year adding up to $5.8 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC also noted that fraud losses were up 70% from the previous year.

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With financial scams on the rise, it’s important to recognize common scams and learn how to avoid them. Here’s what you should know about money scams.

Charity Scams

Some scammers will claim to be raising funds for real or fake charities but instead will pocket your donations. These scams can ramp up during the holidays or during times of increased need, such as after a natural disaster.

Debt Scams

Common debt scams include debt collector scams, where a scammer may claim they are collecting on a debt you actually owe or a debt you don’t know you have, and debt settlement or relief scams, where a fraudster will claim they can help you pay off or settle an existing debt.

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Imposter Scams

According to the FTC report, imposter scams are the most common type of financial scam. In these situations, a scammer will contact you pretending to be someone else, such as a bank employee or a member of law enforcement or the government.

Business and Job Opportunity Scams

If a business or job opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is. These types of scams are also among the most common, according to the FTC.

Money Transfer and Payment App Scams

PayPal, Zelle, Cash App and Venmo are generally secure ways to transfer money, but they can sometimes be utilized by scammers to fulfill their schemes. Beware of these common payment app scams.

Scams That Target Online Sellers

If you are selling products online, you should be extra vigilant to avoid these common scams.

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Scams Targeting the Elderly

The elderly can be especially susceptible targets, so it’s important to be well informed about common scams if you are a senior citizen, and to warn the elderly loved ones in your life about common scams that target this population.

Romance Scams

The rise of internet dating has led to an increase in romance scams, where a potential love interest will ask for money.

More Tips for Avoiding Scams

Here’s a look at some more advice for avoiding financial scams.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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