Looking for love online? Be careful not to get unlucky. Romantic scams on dating websites and through social media are on the rise, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
In 2018, people made more than 21,000 complaints and reported losing more than $143 million on dating websites and through romantic overtures made over social media. That’s up from 8,500 complaints in 2015 with a total reported loss of $33 million. Romantic scams were the top consumer fraud in 2018.
“We’re not talking about the person you thought was ‘the one’ but ended up being a dud,” says Linda Weintraub Schifferle, an attorney with the FTC’s division of consumer and business education. “We’re talking about people you meet online, who lavish you with attention…and then ask for money.” Find out about 10 more online scams you need to be aware of—and how to avoid them.
7 Identity Theft Prevention Tips for Seniors
7 Identity Theft Prevention Tips for Seniors
Make a copy of your Medicare card and block out the last four digits of your Social Security number so if you lose it or your wallet is stolen, no one can get your full Social Security number.
Seniors are often the target of phone scams. Don't respond to incoming phone calls requesting personal information. If a creditor or organization calls with a seemingly legitimate need for your personal information (account numbers, Social Security number, or credit card information), hang up and verify the phone number and legitimacy of the caller before returning the call.
Don't carry more personal documents than necessary with you when you leave the house. Leave Social Security numbers, checks, extra credit cards, Medicare cards, and financial statements in a locked security box at home or another secure location. If you're ever admitted into the hospital or other care facility, credit cards and personal documents should be locked up or put in the hands of someone you trust. Adopt a need-to-know approach to your Social Security number and mother's maiden name. If a business asks for this information, ask what it will do with the information, why the company needs it, how the company will protect it, and what will happen if you refuse to provide this information.
The federal government offers a guide to help you decide how long you need to keep various types of paperwork. Shred anything you don't need to keep, such as documents that contain account information, Social Security numbers, PINs, or sensitive information -- including credit card statements, other bills, credit card receipts, unused checks, canceled checks, and credit reports. Also shred or otherwise destroy expired credit cards and driver's licenses. And never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash receptacles, or gas pumps.
As tech-savvy seniors know, you should protect your computer and your Internet activity. Consult with a network professional to make sure your computer system is secure. Install antivirus software, anti-spyware, and firewall software to prevent cyber-programs that steal personal information. Use unique passwords for your computer and any online accounts and change them on a regular basis. A strong password includes a mix of numbers, symbols, and both upper- and lowercase letters. Don't use your birthday or pet's name, your phone number, or anything that could be easy to guess. Never send personal information via email, and never respond to emails asking you to verify your password, account number, Social Security number, or credit card numbers.
When you're out of town or out of the country, consider purchasing a portable router to create your own Wi-Fi hotspot so you can safely use your laptop, tablet, or smartphone while on the road. You'll need a local SIM data card, which is available at most electronic stores and at airport kiosks for travelers. This will help you avoid using public Wi-Fi spots. Also, before going on vacation, ask the post office to place a vacation hold on all mail.
Many seniors don't think about checking their credit since they're often not in the market to borrow money for a house or car. You should, however, request a free credit report via annualcreditreport.com on a regular basis. You can request your credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies at a time (and therefore check your credit three times each year for free) or sign up for a credit monitoring service to make sure no suspicious activity occurs.
Whether you're a senior yourself or are concerned about an elderly loved one, maintaining vigilance over personal information can prevent identity theft, and regularly checking for activity in your credit file will make it easier to stop the damage faster if you do fall victim to this crime.
The median amount of people reporting losing to romantic scammers in 2018? $2,600. That’s about seven times higher than other consumer fraud losses people brought to the attention of the agency last year. And some cases involve much more loss, such as the Florida woman who estimated she sent more than $500,000 to a man she had been corresponding with in California. Of course, people can fall prey to all kinds of scams on and off line. If you get this phone call, you’re about to get scammed.
So how does an initial match on a dating website or social media wind up in criminal territory?
Eric Resnick, dating profile writer, and owner of ProfileWriting.com says that the most popular targets for dating scams are people 55 and older, specifically widow and widowers. And con people—because both men and women scam, Resnick says—know the buttons to push.
“Scamming is a talent, it’s a skill that these people have,” Resnick says. “It’s their job to separate you from money, and they’re good at it.”
For men, they may be in a long-distance correspondence and the person that they’ve been communicating with suddenly presents with a crisis, like losing a job or that their dog needs surgery, Resnick says. That appeals to some men’s heroic instincts. For women, the scammer might emotionally manipulate the person and threaten to remove the connection. People can fall prey to all kinds of scams online. For some good general advice, learn 10 ways to protect yourself online.
And the numbers are likely even higher than what’s been reported to the FTC. People who get fleeced by a love interest are often embarrassed, which is why 80 percent of these cases go unreported, Resnick says.
“Getting scammed is stupid until you’ve gotten scammed,” he says. “Every person I’ve ever spoken to who has been scammed was an ‘oh, this would never happen to me’ person.” Some of the scams have been traced overseas to countries with weak extradition treaties with the United States, he says. Find out how one man changed an Internet scam into a friendship.
13 Things That Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Great
13 Things That Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Great
The yellow cleaning spray named "Awesome" from the dollar store evidently lives up to its name. The guy who recommended it said that it really should be priced higher and he's never used it without gloves.
The cellphone company is designed to save you a bunch of money on your plan if you switch away from a major carrier.
This guy loves it: I seriously only pay $45 a month for unlimited everything for my Google Nexus 4 and also get great service since I have a AT&T compatible SIM card with them. Basically my service runs off of AT&T towers just without me having to pay $100 a month. It is cheap, and in the long run saves you a lot of money.
These seem like a clever ploy by Big Detergent to force you to spend more on rebranded soap.
Well, as it turns out they actually really work out well. Almost everyone uses a little too much detergent in their wash, but these little pods actually do the trick.
Submitted the request online, guy came out (to him) a day or two later with a truck, looked the car over to make sure everything checked out with the specs he submitted, handed him a check, and left with the car. Check cleared with no issues.
My guess is that they can give such a higher premium because they scrap the car and sell the parts online, so they'll have a much higher turnaround. Either that or it's some really eccentric millionaire finding new ways to pass the time.
I can personally confirm that Linux is awesome.
Here's why: "You mean I can get a fully-functional operating system for free, just download it off the website, and it's faster, more secure and easier than Windows? And it has thousands of free programs with it? And they're offering more and more games that often play better on Linux than Windows? Sure , whatever...." But it's true!
It's a neoprene jacket you put on animals to reduce anxiety. It accomplishes this by gently squeezing them all over.
Got it for my frenchie who was going through anxiety after we moved, and it totally works on the short term and on the long term.
This pet comb really works: Furminator brush, a metal comb with tapered grooves that removes undercoat and reduces shedding. It's not a surprise it works, but how well it works. The ad photo with the husky surrounded by a giant pile of fur is exactly what happens.
Another endorsement: Bought a furminator yesterday and felt like a dumbass for spending $45 on a damn cat brush. Then I had a pile of fur twice the size of my cat.
Several people swear by this blender. The issue is that it's sold through infomercials which instantly sets off everyone's B.S. alarm.
You know those ads on television for sites offering free credit reports? Don't use those websites.
Congress made the credit report companies provide people with one free credit report per year, so they did that with AnnualCreditReport.com, but then made several easily confusable clones that charged money.
Here's the explanation: Annualcreditreport.com is run by the U.S. government and is designed to comply with the law requiring credit bureaus to give you your reports for free every so often.
Freecreditreport.com and sites like it are businesses who charge you money for these same services (or require that you bundle pay services with the free service of getting your report) [...] they're preying on the people who were trying to get their free report and just went to the wrong web address.
People use these on white sneakers to wild success, and one Redditor cleaned a horrifying tub in a new apartment to the point it looked like new. One guy used a similar product, Barkeeper's Friend, to get a sharpie'd genital off of his fridge.
RainX is the stuff you spread apply to your windshield that repels rain, meaning that you don't actually have to use your windshield wipers.
Here's one Redditor's endorsement: First, it will last a lot longer than a few days if you follow the directions to a tee. If it's at all cool air temps when you apply it, turn on your defroster for a while to heat up the window. Helps a lot. When you get up to speeds that make the rain "skitter" off the windshield, stop using the wipers; this speed will vary depending on the angle of your window. [...]
Photo: Kjarrett, Flickr.com Lastly, I've heard Aquapel makes Rain‑X appear as though a drunken monkey had smeared feces over your window in comparison. I can't personally speak to this, as I cannot afford Aquapel. Sounds fun.
Sold by the late but legendary pitchman Billy Mays, the sodium percarbonate cleaning product is actually really, really good at cleaning anything.
Granted, you can get the same chemical off-brand at a pool supply store for a fifth of the price, but the stuff just annihilates stains.
To avoid getting scammed by a potential dating partner, here’s what Resnick recommends:
Don’t send money. “There is never ever any reason to send money to someone you met on a dating site,” Resnick says. “The only person you should be sending money to on the dating site is the dating site for your monthly subscription.”
Be careful what you write. A profile that mentions you lost a spouse or are lonely could signal vulnerability and invite scammers.
Watch your photos. Selfies that are all taken in your house could communicate that you’re lonely and don’t have many friends or family for support. And don’t display aspects of your material wealth such as your car or home. “That’s basically saying: Come take my money from me,” Resnick says.
Stay local. While there are exceptions to every rule, starting a long-distance romance online could be asking for trouble. Resnick recommends you concentrate on people within driving distance.
Ask to meet in person within seven to 10 days. You put yourself at risk by building a correspondence-based romance for both heartache and scams. “If they’re not real, they won’t show,” Resnick says.
1. Make sure that the website you are ordering from is secure
"Many websites will have a seal at the bottom stating that the website is indeed secure and will not make your information public under any circumstances. A site that has 'https://' at the beginning of their web address as well as a padlock symbol is typically a site to trust." -My Broken Coin
2. Search for product reviews beforehand
"Returning items to online stores can be a major hassle. So why not find out what others think of the product before you purchase it online? For example, before buying a new laptop, search for comments and complaints associated with the brand. If there are more negative reviews than positive, and the same problem is reoccurring, then it may not be a brand worth investing in. This will save yourself from buying something that would have to be returned to the store soon after receipt." -My Broken Coin
3. Look for promo codes before checking out
"Who doesn't like saving money, especially on necessities? Almost every retailer will have some sort of promotion available, so ensure you look for one before purchasing. You may not find every code useful or relevant to your purchase, but there are plenty out there that could save you money. So, before you check out ensure you search your retailer for voucher codes and see how much you could save." -My Broken Coin
5. Check and double check your shopping cart
"When shopping online, it's incredibly easy to get side-tracked and accidentally add things into your shopping cart. For example, you may double click on an item and not notice that you've order two of it until it's too late. As well as this, if you've visited a site before but abandoned your cart before purchasing, the site will sometimes have saved your items when you visit again. Thus, it's incredibly important that you double check what you're buying." -My Broken Coin
6. Track your order
"Many sites give you the option to track you orders. This is especially handy when you need your order by a specific date (before Christmas, in time for a birthday party, etc.). Stay on-top of your order's location at all times, including the cities that it is arriving in and departing from every day. A lot of online trackers go through FedEx or UPS and are typically very accurate." -My Broken Coin
4. Price-match whenever possible
"Price-matching and price-comparison is the one of the best strategies for saving money while shopping online, as you will be able to purchase items that you otherwise would not have been able to afford. Retailers are in constant competition with each other to offer the best price and product to customers, so find the one that's offering the best deal." -My Broken Coin