Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. Scam Detectorleads the way by publishing a top ten list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each week, ones that are either new or gaining in popularity. Take a look at some of their more recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Google Business Listing Scam

This one works either by email or by direct dial phone contact, and in both cases, a thief is trying to get access to your credit card. Whether or not they steal your identity is up in the air, but what will definitely happen is you’re signed up for a monthly membership and your card will be charged a recurring fee. And good luck trying to reach an agent to cancel that membership.

The so-called agent who contacts you promises that your small business can be listed on the first page of Google, meaning that anyone who types in “auto garage” will inexplicably see your business. Ask yourself, though, why would you pay to have random internet users see the name of your business? Is someone from Idaho going to drive to your shop in Virginia for repairs, just because he saw your listing on Google?

First it’s an ineffective way to reach customers, but second, it’s a scam. Do not hand over your credit card information or other personal data without knowing exactly who you’re talking to and what they’ll do with it.

#2 – Nepal Earthquake Scam

There should be a special punishment for people who scam well-intentioned citizens out of their money while pretending the money is going to charity. In the years since the attack on September 11th, 2001, the New York County District Attorney’s office has brought charges against approximately 500 people for fraudulent charity collections related to the attack, estimating that those cases alone stole around $5 million total.

Now, everywhere you look on online you’ll probably find a “click here to support” button related to the earthquake in Nepal. Due to this morning’s news that another earthquake has hit Nepal, the fraudulent charities are sure to increase.

Whenever a large-scale disaster strikes, it’s not only natural to want to help, it’s noble. It’s what makes the world great. But don’t let a scammer do even more harm by stealing concerned citizens’ money while ignoring the devastation in order to line his own pockets. Make sure you’re only giving your donations of money or items to reputable companies that are well-known for their disaster response capabilities and their transparency as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.

#3 – Wrong Number Stock Tip Scam

You receive a voicemail message that was obviously intended for someone else, but just as you’re about to hit delete, the real fun begins. The caller—pretending to be leaving a message for someone else—shares a stock market tip that’s too awesome to miss. He makes sure to tell you to keep it to yourself, but to buy up all the stock in such-and-such a company before the big announcement tomorrow.

First of all, this is a scam intended to get you to buy up stocks in a company that’s floundering (and if this is how they resort to getting money for their company, no wonder they’re failing!). Don’t fall for it. But more importantly, this is also a crime. Even if the message had been for you and had been about a legitimate announcement that would send the stock through the roof, it would be called insider trading! You can report these scammers to the Federal Trade Commission by clicking HERE.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit Scam-Detector.com or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

No, a Nigerian Prince does not want to give you money.

This is an example of the Nigerian letter scam and it comes in many forms. The Nigerian letter or email scam is very common and typically requires the victim to send money to the scammer and, in turn, the scammer will reimburse them several times over.

A common example is an email from a representative of a Nigerian prince who needs to transfer $40 million obtained from an oil contract but cannot use an African bank account and therefore needs your assistance. They will want to use your personal bank account, but first, you need to open a Nigerian bank account with at least $100,000 in it to be a qualified foreign recipient of the funds. The prince’s representatives will provide information as to where you will send the money and promise you they will transfer your millions right after. Another example is that you are the winner of a foreign country’s lottery (somehow!) and if you send personal identification information and documents plus a small fee, you will receive your millions of dollars in lottery winnings. Of course, this never happens.

While there are many different ways these fake stories are formulated, they all follow the same basic principle. You send us money, and then we will send you much more. Any time you see this formula you should immediately suspect foul play. These Nigerian letters or email scams used to be very easy to identify because the emails looked very unofficial and there were so many spelling and grammar mistakes that it couldn’t possibly be from a legitimate organization handling millions of dollars. Nowadays they are much harder to detect because the scammers have been putting more effort into creating more realistic and convincing emails that include a business or bank logo, correct grammar and spelling, and sometimes fake websites to look more official and authentic.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 2012 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book compiles complaints received by the FTC, various state law enforcement organizations, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. In the 2012 report, 7,782 complaints were filed under the category of Nigerian/Other Foreign Money Offers (not including prizes) down from 16,405 in 2010. Therefore, people may have become more aware of these scams, but the scammers are working every day to make their scams more and more believable. Be on the lookout for these scams and always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Should you fall victim to this scam you should immediately report it to:

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