NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Avoiding Scams

Avoiding Scams

          One of the oldest scams –and one that is still occurring – is sending money via wire, typically Western Union, to a scammer who is pretending to be a relative in need, a fundraiser for a disaster, etc.  Western Union has provided some tried and true tips to avoid falling victim to the “overpayment” scam.

          -  Know who you’re doing business with; independently confirm your buyer’s name, street address, and telephone number.

          -  Don’t accept a check or money order for more than your selling price. If the name on the check doesn’t match the name of the person you’re dealing with, immediately end the transaction.

          -  Consider dealing in cash and in-person with local buyers. If this isn’t feasible, ask for a check drawn on a local bank so you can visit a local branch or office to determine if the check is legitimate. Or, consider an alternative method of payment like a trusted escrow service or online payment service.

          - If a buyer insists that you wire money, don’t. Scammers pressure people to use wire transfer services because the money’s picked up in cash and impossible to trace afterward.

          - Fake checks or money orders play a starring role in overpayment scams, advance fee and prepayment scams, mystery shopping scams, lottery prize scams, and more. Don’t use these funds until your bank officially clears them, and remember Banks must make deposited funds available within a few days but it can take weeks to uncover a fake check.

          -  Resist pressure from a buyer to act immediately. If the buyer’s intentions are good, he or she will wait for the check to clear to finish the transaction.

          -  If you’re communicating with anyone by email, check for common red flags like poor grammar, misspellings, character/spacing mistakes, and excessive capitalization.


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