10 Common Spam Scams - Slide 2

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The Bait: Con artists claim to be officials, businesspeople, or the surviving spouses of former government honchos in Nigeria or another country whose money is somehow tied up for a limited time. They offer to transfer lots of money into your bank account if you will pay a fee or "taxes" to help them access their money. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive documents that look "official." Then they ask you to send money to cover transaction and transfer costs and attorney's fees, as well as blank letterhead, your bank account numbers, or other information. They may even encourage you to travel to the country in question, or a neighboring country, to complete the transaction. Some fraudsters have even produced trunks of dyed or stamped money to try to verify their claims.

The Catch: The emails are from crooks trying to steal your money or your identity. Inevitably, in this scenario, emergencies come up, requiring more of your money and delaying the "transfer" of funds to your account. In the end, there aren't any profits for you, and the scam artist vanishes with your money. The harm sometimes can be felt even beyond your pocketbook: according to State Department reports, people who have responded to "pay in advance" solicitations have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered.

Your Safety Net: If you receive an email from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of a foreign country, don't respond.

Forward "Nigerian" scams – including all the email addressing information – to spam@uce.gov. If you've lost money to one of these schemes, call your local Secret Service field office. Local field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone directory.

While some consumers find unsolicited commercial email – also known as "spam" – informative, others find it annoying and time consuming. Still others find it expensive: They're among the people who have lost money to spam that contained bogus offers and fraudulent promotions.

Many Internet Service Providers and computer operating systems offer filtering software to limit the spam in their users' e-mail inboxes. In addition, some old-fashioned 'filter tips' can help you save time and money by avoiding frauds pitched in email. OnGuard Online suggests computer users screen spam for scams, send unwanted spam on to the appropriate enforcement authorities, and then hit delete.

This slideshow features 10 common spam scams end users need to know about.

Fighting Back

Con artists are clever and cunning, constantly hatching new variations on age-old scams. Still, skeptical consumers can spot questionable or unsavory promotions in email offers. Should you receive an email that you think may be fraudulent, forward it to the FTC at spam@uce.gov, hit delete, and smile. You'll be doing your part to help put a scam artist out of work.

How to Report Spam

If you receive an email that you think may be a scam:

  • Forward it to the FTC at spam@uce.gov
  • Forward it to the abuse desk of the sender's ISP.
  • Also, if the email appears to be impersonating a bank or other company or organization, forward the message to the actual organization.

If you think you may have responded to an email that may be a scam:

  • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
  • Report it to your state Attorney General, using contact information at naag.org.
  • Then visit the FTC's identity theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft. While you can't completely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk.

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Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

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