This page about anti-scam guide and reference is a live document and will be updated from time to time.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is only a guide, and we do not provide any guarantee that you can avoid scam by following the guidelines in this document or our website.
Last edited: 4 Feb 2013
(A) Suddenly, someone pops up (email, phone) and wants to send you a large sum of money!
There is no free lunch, i.e. someone offering you a lot in return for nothing (well almost, except to scam your money). This is especially true if it involves a “huge” sum of money out of no where. If you received such an offer, note that it is a scam based on the following rules:
Rule 1: Unsolicited Emails (its likely a spam) or Phone Call (Telemarketing)
Rule 2: Use of Free Email Sender (gmail, yahoo, live, and becareful with fake, recently registered sites)
Rule 3: Involving Large Sum of Money (lottery, contest, fund transfer, inheritance)
Rule 4: Requires you to wire money, pay for fees, pay for delivery charges, pay for processing or clearing fees, etc.
(B) Scammers on Classifieds, Auctions, Ebays, Craigslist, etc.
We are referring to buying something from an individual, not an established company, for example, you found someone (not a company) selling something you like on a local classified ads. Have you ever wondered why most classifieds are Localised? Have you ever wondered why there are so many scams on Ebay? This is because its so easy to scam when the other party don’t get to see you! All the scammer need is an email address, and probably a temporary phone number.
Rule 1: Recommended to trade, buy or sell from a person whom you can meet in person, i.e. local area only. If anything goes wrong, report to the police so they can track the scammer down.
Rule 2: Check the sellers’ track records.
(C) How to prevent love and romance scams:
Never trust the pictures posted on these sites, unless you know the person in real life. If you are chatting with a total stranger from a foreign country, it is safer not to believe who he or she claims to be. Pictures can be easily taken from another (real users) profile, or from the internet. Try searching for free pictures in google (images.google.com) and you can easily find tonnes of free pictures of beautiful people. And in most romance scams, your “lover” may soon find excuses to ask money from. This applies even if they are the “real” people in the pictures.
Rule 1: Confirm that he or she is the same person on the photograph. Use a web cam to chat, listen to the accent, etc.
Rule 2: If he / she is the correct person on the photograph, do not give him / her any money under any circumstances. (this is up to you, some people just don’t mind giving in to good looks)
Rule 3: Never trust their profile, e.g. rich man, owns a company, runs a real estate business, etc. While you can see their real face on the web cam, you can’t really dig out their entire life unless you hire a private investigator (please do not email us, hotscams.com do not provide such services!)
Check this guide: How to avoid online love, dating and romance scam
(D) Job Scams, Mystery Shopper Scam.
Rule 1: Never pay money to join a company, because the company is supposed to pay for you.
Rule 2: If you received a Check, do Not wire out or use the cash immediately under the instruction of the same person (or related person). Not even after the bank has “cleared” it. Wait for at least 15 days or more.
Fake check scam is very widespread, so we will explain a little more.
- The scammer sends you a fake Check.
- The bank may release cash into your account within 3 days.
- You will be asked to buy things using the cash, and
- You will be asked to wire out cash to “another person” for some reason, e.g. test the efficiency.
- After some time or about 10 days, bank found out the Check is fake.
- Bank will call you to return the money.
Check out this article: 12 ways to spot a Job or Employment Scam
(E) Disclosure of Sensitive Information?
If you choose to proceed, never give away your ID and bank account number.
a) Credit Card or Bank Account: If you did give away sensitive information, call the bank immediately and tell them about leak of sensitive information.
b) National ID, Passport Number: Submit a police report if you suspect that it may be used for wrong doing.
c) Email or any Account Password: Change the password Immediately.
hot scams dot com is just a scam reporting site, and is unable to advise in all cases, “what should I do after I get scammed”.
The following are some common advise to protect yourself against scams, frauds and cheats. As there are many types of scams, the guidelines below are not exhaustive and should only serve as a reference. We will update them as needed.
(F) General Anti-Scam Guidelines (old post but relevant)
- All foreign lottery mails are fake.
- All foreign money transfer for “inheritance” (someone died) are fake.
- Do not pay or transfer any money/fees to a stranger who sent you an email.
- Never give out personal information over the telephone or email, to a stranger who approach or email you.
- Do not believe in deals that is too good to be true, including investment, ridiculous pricing with “no strings” attached, one-price-get-all, etc. Find out the details of the deal, get second opinion from someone reliable, check out the web for similar scams. hotscams.com always advocate that there is no such thing as free lunch!
- Check the small print of any document before you sign.
- Check the background of the company before you engage in any business. Is it a reputable, registered business?
- Do NOT rush to sign any contract or agreement when the other party uses tactics like “last chance”, “once in a lifetime deal”, “last one left”, “offer ending today”, etc.
- In a Love Scam, your lover (overseas, never met) is a scammer if he/she starts asking you for money due to an “emergency”, birthday, etc. Well, this may not always be the case, but this is most of the case so far. Just tell your sweetie “I am sorry dear, I don’t have any money to give you.”
If still in doubt, what should you do?
JUST WALK AWAY and/or DELETE THAT MAIL.
If someone is going to get rich in any of the above, let them be and make sure that they are not accomplice of the scammer trying to fake “success” story. So far no one became rich because of them, and you will not be the first one.
(G) Anti-Phishing Guidelines (All Time Favourites)
- Always type the URL directly on the browser software.
- Never click the link from the email to a website to update your login, personal or financial information.
- Protect your Free Email account even if its free but used to communicate with friends, business and login into sensitive account. Apply similiar anti-phishing rules and do not lose the password.
- Always install and update your anti-virus software to prevent hijacking of your browser software.
- Never let anyone know your computer password. You will never know how the keylogger software can get into your system. Poor password management, accidents or eavesdropping by the social engineers will get your PC setup for key logging.
- Never open any attachment from strangers, including extensions such as PDF, PNG, JPG, DOC,XLS, etc.
Some sites will tell you how to check the URL, check the grammar, or not to believe in the email address used in the email, etc.
But if you have the time to do the above, wouldn’t it be more convenient and less strenuous to simply Type in the URL of the site you wish to go?
Which is easier (1 or 2)?
(1) Open your eyes and check closely if this is a phishing URL:
(2) Type in the URL:
You don’t need rocket science to counter phishing. All you need is to type in correctly.
(H) Some tips about 419 scams:
1) The sender’s email address can be fake. The scammer can send the mails out using any email address via an anonymous mail server.
2) The names used in the email are fake – most of the time. There is no need to inform the police about the names, because they need more than that to find the real person behind all these.
3) The whole story is fake, including the money, dead people (if any), etc.
4) If you still insist on going ahead to try it out, please bewarned “Never Pay Money to Get Money (prize)”. We assure you that at some point in the communication process, they will ask you for money. In some cases, they will also ask you for personal identity information, which can be used to scam the bank to provide them with you bank account details.
5) If you received a check from a stranger for any funny reasons, it might be a fake check. When you bank in a fake check, the bank will clear the check and deposit the cash into your account within 3 days. After that, the scammer will ask you to send the money to them. When the bank finds out that the check is fake after about 10 days, they will ask you to return the money.
1) Do not respond to such emails (delete them!)
2) If you sent any sensitive personal information (e.g. Bank Acct. No., National ID Card no., Birthday, etc) to the scammers, contact the bank immediately so that they are aware of the fraud. If this is a credit card, contact your bank to terminate the card and issue a new one.
3) Inform your friends and family members, esp. the elderly, about such scams. It is too late to tell them if they have already been scammed. Prevention is better because there is no cure!
(Last Updated Jan 26, 2010. This article is updated periodically)