Scammers typically start off by sending you a fake check in the mail, but because they’ve sent you “too much” money, they reach out instructing you to deposit the full check into your bank account and send the overpaid portion back to them via check or wire transfer.
Some companies will also legitimately charge you for a purchase but will continue charging you each month because your purchase signed you up for some obscure product or service that requires monthly billing.
Scammers pose as a real charity (or one that sounds real) and call, mail or email asking that you help with some recent tragedy. Instead of making a donation pledge right then and there, it’s smart to tell them you’ll contact them through the organization’s official website or phone number noted there.
Also popular around the holidays are “grandparent scams” where scammers call older adults pretending to be a grandchild or other relative. They claim they are in trouble and need help, often asking that you wire them money or send them a gift card so they’ll have the cash they need.
A cross between charity and grandparent scams, imposter scams typically work something like this: A caller tries to persuade you to give money to their organization or government agency (think police and firefighter funds).
Dealing with legitimate debt collectors can already be stressful, but there are guidelines they must adhere to which can make identifying a scammer easier. An overly aggressive “debt collector” may be a scammer in disguise.
Some companies may offer to help you find and recover unclaimed money for a percentage of the found funds. Paying these fees is pointless, since you can search for unclaimed property and reclaim it for free (or perhaps for a small processing fee) on official databases.