Unfortunately being scammed is something that a lot of us have experienced or have known someone else who has been had. Frugal Living doesn't prevent you from being conned, so being prepared could help you avoid any nasty surprises.
It is never pleasant and at best leaves us feeling silly and abused, at worst losing a lot of money and feeling desperate.
I always advocate that as part of anyone's frugal living plan, it is important to keep yourself informed and up to date with the latest scams doing the rounds.
This is easy to do these days with the advent of the Internet and forums. Simply search for the word scam and I'm sure you will find the latest information.
There are of course scams that do the rounds for years or go in and out of fashion like clothes.
Many of these so called offers and opportunities that come your way sound very convincing.
It always amazing me how low some of these con men will go to try and snare our money.
So I thought it would be a good idea to give you a few of the scams I have either read about on the internet or have experienced myself, in the hope that it will give you all a heads up on these ones and help to prevent you from being scammed by any of them in the future.
1. The unclaimed parcel - I have been receiving a lot of emails recently from a so-called courier company telling me that they have a parcel for me that they need me to claim. The email looks very professional and has a photo of a docket with my name and details on it.
To claim the parcel I have to give them lots of my personal details so that they can be sure I am the right person. Yeah right. This is totally a scam, there is no parcel, all they want to do is to try and get as much personal information from you as possible and if that includes passwords or account numbers etc the better it is for them.
2. Job offers - If anyone offers you a job out of the blue via email, it's a scam. The emails all look very professional and come from many different types of business all looking for someone to work for them, such as a finance officer or debt collector.
They want you to accept money from their overseas customers into your bank account and then you take a fixed percentage of the money and forward the rest to their bank account.
The catch, or catches should I say are 1, you will have to give them your bank account details and 2, the checks paid into your account are fake, so when you transfer the percentage of the money to their account you are in fact transferring your own money.
3. Requests for help - This con happens both online and door-to-door. It is so easy to be taken in by this one and I have known several people who have fallen for it.
Basically the situation is that you will receive an email with a sob story asking for your help.
They won't ask you for money at first, but are trying to get a report going with you, so that when they do ask for money in the future you are more likely to give it to them.
The other scenario is that you will either get a knock at the door or come across someone in the street who is very distressed.
Saying that they need to get to a certain hospital (normally the other side of town) urgently as their mother etc has been taken seriously ill and they don't have any way to get there apart from a cab, which they cannot afford.
Watch out, this can be very convincing, but as soon as you hand over the money and see them walking down the street, you will just know that somethings is a miss and that you have lost your money.
4. Fake signatures - this con is as old as the hills and is something that hopefully many people are aware of these days. Goods advertised for sale as being signed by famous people is a very lucrative business, where some items can be worth thousands.
However it is all too easy to be fooled into buying an item only to find out later that it is fake and getting your money back is impossible.
If you do buy something make sure that it comes with a certificate of authenticity and even then ask the seller what their return of sale policies are if the signature is found to be forged.
5. Internet auction sellers - this is a relatively new scam and has come about with the advent of online auction sites.
Not every one has either the time or the know how of the equipment to sell their goods on line, but guess what, there are companies that will do this for you for a small percentage of the profits. Now many of these companies are genuine, but always find out as much as you can about them before you hand over your goods.
There have been cases of people handing over their property to be sold only to find that the company disappears shortly afterwards along with your goods. There are also tips here on this website about buying safely online.