3 Scams You Need to Watch Out for

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated January 28, 2021

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Protect yourself from identity theft
May 18, 2018

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Scammers constantly update their attempts to commit fraud and theft. Learning about their most recent attempts will help you stay safe. This year, you should watch out for these three scams.

The number of fake websites has skyrocketed over the last few years. To make matters even worse, criminals have gotten very good at creating websites that look legitimate. For instance, a scammer may send you an email that leads to a fake Amazon.com site. The sight looks similar to Amazon’s, but it exists specifically to steal your credit card information or install malware on your computer.

It’s not always easy to spot fake websites. Leave a site immediately if you notice:

  • A URL that doesn’t match the legitimate site’s website.
  • That the website doesn’t have a secure address that starts with https
  • Unbelievably low prices for valuable items.
  • Broken English that could indicate the site was made overseas.

Tax time gives criminals ample opportunities to trick people into giving away sensitive information. Some common scams that focus on topics include:

  • Calling to discuss a non-existent tax bill.
  • Posing as an accountant to steal your private information while filling out tax documents.
  • Sending “IRS refund” emails that contain links to malicious websites.

If you suspect that someone is trying to impersonate an IRS agent, contact the IRS by calling 800-366-4484 or visiting the agency’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page. You can also protect yourself from tax identity theft with tools like Identity Guard (read our review).

Spear phishing is similar to standard phishing techniques. With spear phishing, though, scammers make their emails look like they’re intended for you instead of any random person. Spear phishing scams often include emails that look legitimate. If you take a closer look, though, you’ll often find tell-tale signs like:

  • Unusual requests that you haven’t encountered before (especially when the requests involve money).
  • The email doesn’t seem like it’s written by the supposed author (if your CEO always calls you Matt, then an email that begins “Hello Matthew” should sound an alarm).
  • The email has an abnormal tone that’s unusually formal or casual.

Criminals will continue to change their strategies as people become more aware of popular scams. Unfortunately, you may get targeted by one of the latest scams that few people know about yet.

Since so many scammers try to commit identity fraud, you may want to use services from a company that focuses on protecting your identity, like Credit Sesame, LifeLock or Identity Guard. Our review compares Lifelock vs. Experian vs. IdentityGuard so you can get a feel for which company would be best for you.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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