The Little Black Book Of Scams

I love a great scam busting idea and this is one of them: The Little Black Book Of Scams.  This book has been put together to help people avoid the many scams that are out there trying to take advantage of them.  By reading this book you can learn to spot, avoid, and protect yourself against scams.

It is a free download and I will provide you with a link to it below.  I think you will enjoy it and find it of value.

Here are some key sections from The Little Black Book Of Scams:

Everyone is vulnerable to scams so everyone needs information about how to identify and avoid being scammed. Some people think that only the gullible and greedy fall victim to scams. The truth is scammers are clever and if you don’t know what to look out for, anyone can fall victim to a scam.

How Scams Work—The Anatomy Of A Scam

If you look carefully at all of the different types of scams, you’ll soon notice that most scams go through three stages: (1) approach; (2) communication; and (3) payment.

Understanding the basic parts of a scam will help you to avoid the current crop of scams and to be on guard against new scams that emerge in the future.

1. The Approach

When scammers approach you it will always come with a story designed to make you believe a lie. The scammer will pretend to be something they are not, a government official, an expert investor, a lottery official or even a romantic admirer.

To deliver these lies to you, scammers will use a range of communication methods:

  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Online Shopping
  • Classifieds
  • Auction Sites
  • Dating Sites
  • Online Forums
  • Phone Calls
  • Text Messages
  • Door-to-door
  • Mail

2. Communication And Grooming

If you give them a chance to talk to you, they will start using tricks in their scammers’ toolbox to convince you to part with your money.

  • Scammers spin elaborate, yet convincing stories to get what they want.
  • They use your personal details to make you believe you have dealt with them before and make the scam appear legitimate.
  • Scammers may contact you regularly to build trust and convince you that they are your friend, partner or romantic interest.
  • They play with your emotions by using the excitement of a win, the promise of everlasting love, sympathy for an unfortunate accident, guilt about not helping or anxiety and fear of arrest or a fine.
  • Scammers love to create a sense of urgency so you don’t have time to think things through and react on emotions rather than logic.
  • Similarly, they use high pressure sales tactics saying it is a limited offer, prices will rise or the market will move and the opportunity will be lost.
  • A scam can have all the hallmarks of a real business using glossy brochures with technical industry jargon backed up with office fronts, call centers and professional websites.
  • With access to the internet and clever software it is easy for scammers to create counterfeit and official-looking documents. A document that appears to have government approval or is filled with legal jargon can give a scam an air of authority.

The scammer’s tools are designed to get you to lower your defenses, build trust in the story and act quickly or irrationally and proceed to the final stage—sending the money.

3. Sending The Money

Sometimes the biggest clue you will have that it is a scam is the way the scammer asks you to pay.

Asking for money can come within minutes of the scam or after months of careful grooming. Scammers have their preferences for how you send your money.

Scammers have been known to direct victims to their nearest money remittance location (post office, wire transfer service or even the bank) to send money. They have been known to stay on the phone, give specific instructions and may even send a taxi to help with this. Scammers are willing to accept money by any means and this can include direct bank transfers, preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin. Any request for payment by an unusual method is a tell-tale sign that it is part of a scam.

Credit cards usually offer some protection and you should also look for secure payment options where ‘https’ appears in the web address and the site has a closed padlock symbol.

Don’t send money to someone you have only met online or over the phone—especially if they are overseas.

Be aware that scammers can also ask for payment in the form of valuable goods and expensive gifts such as jewellery or electronics. Paying money to scammers isn’t the only thing you should worry about—if you help transfer money for a stranger you may unwittingly be involved in illegal money laundering activities.

The Golden Rules To Protect Yourself

Be alert to the fact that scams exist. When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether it’s over the phone, by mail, email, in person or on a social networking site, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Know who you’re dealing with. If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a business, take some time to do a bit more research. Do a Google image search on photos or search the internet for others who may have had dealings with them.

Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or emails—delete them. If unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Don’t use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.

Keep your personal details secure. Put a lock on your mailbox and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords and pin numbers in a safe place. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.

Beware of unusual payment methods. Scammers often ask for payment by wire transfers, preloaded cards and even iTunes cards and Bitcoin. These are nearly always a sign that it is part of a scam.

Keep your mobile devices and computers secure. Always use password protection, don’t share access with others (including remotely), update security software and back up content. Protect your WiFi network with a password and avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information.

Choose your passwords carefully. Choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess and update them regularly. A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account/profile, and don’t share your passwords with anyone.

Beware of any requests for your details or money. Never send money or give credit card numbers, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence.

Be careful when shopping online. Beware of offers that seem too good to be true, and always use an online shopping service that you know and trust. Think twice before using virtual currencies (like Bitcoin)—they do not have the same protections as other transaction methods, which means you can’t get your money back once you send it.

The following types of scams are covered in detail:

  • Dating and romance scams
  • Investment scams
  • Threat and penalty scams
  • Unexpected money scams
  • Prize and lottery scams
  • Online shopping, classifieds and auction scams
  • Scams targeting computers and mobile devices
  • Identity theft
  • Job and employment scams
  • Charity and medical scams
  • Small business scams

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is the creator of The Little Black Book Of Scams.

Click Here to download The Little Black Book Of Scams.