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Am I at risk?

As much as we all like to believe that everyone is kind-hearted, the truth is that many individuals take advantage of this belief by scamming people. In 2006, Americans reported a total loss of $198 million due to Internet fraud! Sadly, close to 20% of those scams were committed against New Yorkers. And one quarter of the complainants were age 20-29--mostly college students like you. By 2010, the reported total loss was over $600 million.

In other words, you are in one of the most at-risk demographics for scam victims in the nation! The best way to avoid becoming a scammer's next victim is to be skeptical. Many scam artists use a technique called "social engineering" to manipulate people into letting down their guard and revealing confidential information. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Tips on how to avoid common scams

Below is a list of scams that continue to be the most common year after year. Included are brief descriptions of how victims are lured in and some tips on how to avoid these scams.

  • Scholarship Scams --one of the easiest ways for scammers to fool students is to create fraudulent scholarships which require you to pay some kind of fee.

    Exclamation PointTIP - Real scholarship programs do not require any kind of application fee in order to be considered by a committee.  They also do not require you to pay taxes or a disbursement or redemption fee before releasing your scholarship prize to you.

  • Educational Loans --some scams offer unusually low-interest educational loans which require you to pay a fee before receiving a disbursement check. After you pay, the promised loan never comes.

    Exclamation PointTIP - Real educational loans deduct any fees from the disbursement check so there are no up-front fees.

  • Internet Auctions --many scammers post items for sale in virtual marketplaces, then once they receive money from consumers, they either send a less valuable item or nothing at all to the customers.

    Exclamation PointTIP - When bidding through online auctions, check the seller's record and pay using an escrow service or credit card so that you can inspect the item before payment and dispute charges for misrepresented items. Also avoid international sellers.

  • Credit Card Fraud --many scammers will lure people into disclosing their credit card information by claiming they need it to ensure that the customer is at least 18 years old, then use their credit card numbers to run up fraudulent charges.

    Exclamation PointTIP - Only share your credit card information with a trusted company on a secure site and dispute any unauthorized charges on your card.

The Top 10 Scams of 2012

According to Consumer Affairs, these were the top 10 scams in America for 2012:

  1. Mortgage Scams
  2. Credit repair
  3. Cellphone cramming
  4. Government agency impersonators
  5. Fake charity solicitors
  6. Text scams
  7. Business "opportunities"
  8. Apartment rentals
  9. Fake debt collectors
  10. Timeshare resales 

What's your Scam Awareness IQ?

Now that you've learned about common scams and how to avoid them, test your new-found skills with this OnGuard Online quiz!

spam scams testSpam Scams quiz

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