Things That Can Be Scams Hiding In Plain Sight

Nobody wants to fall prey to a scam that has the capacity to upend life itself as you know it. Unfortunately, in this day and age, scams continue to evolve to be even more elaborate and predatory. The worst part about some of the most damaging scams is that they hide themselves in plain sight. We’ll take a look at some of the scams that can do the most damage to your life, while giving off the appearance of being totally normal.

1. The “Who’s Who” Directories

A person on their phone while using their laptop.

If you haven’t encountered this scam, count yourself lucky. It’s been occurring for decades on end, and oftentimes the folks that are targeted are professors, aspiring authors, and designers. Basically, anyone who would want to see their names in print. The scammer companies usually randomly contact you, inform you that you’ve been recognized as a person of importance within your industry, and then they offer to write up a brief biography and article on you. They might even offer to schedule an interview for you off the bat because of your “great importance.” The whole catch though is that they ask you to pay for the mere privilege of being featured in their book/directory/etc. While it might not sound like a stereotypical scam because you’re receiving a service for your payment, it still fits the bill according to AARP. I mean, the fact that these companies invent directories that have no actual meaning is a huge red flag.

2. IRS Phone Calls

A person in a dark shirt using their smartphone.
Jonas Leupe/unsplash

Nobody wants to deal with the panic attack-inducing moment that can be finding yourself on the line with an alleged, very upset IRS agent that claims you’re about to have legal action taken against you if you fail to make good on taxes you owe. Slow your roll though. According to the IRS website, an IRS agent will never call you and demand an immediate payment, call you prior to sending you a bill in the mail, demand you make a payment on your taxes in one specific way, ask for any of your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, threaten to have you arrested, and threaten any kind of legal action.

3. Detox Food Diets

An image of different drinks as part of a detox food diet.
Joanna Kosinska/unsplash

Look, your intentions are pure. You want to hop on board the healthy train, and get the body right. That is all well and good, but don’t fall prey to the pricey and misleading detox food diets. According to Healthline, there’s minimal actual evidence that a detox diet helps your body eliminate unwanted compounds. Plus, the detox diet will hardly ever actually identify the specific toxics they’re aiming to remove. That very ambiguity takes all the credit away from your body (your liver) just doing what it was already naturally built to do.

4. The Craigslist Job That Offers An Advance Payment

An image of a notepad placed next to a phone, a mug of coffee, and a laptop.
Andrew Neel/unsplash

If it seems like the whole new job setup is right out of a fairytale itself, then it probably is. While it would be an amazing twist in terms of the natural way the world works, companies generally aren’t looking to hand out advance paychecks with no work ever having been performed. Specifically, if you find yourself with a new job that you were able to secure through a helpful place like Craigslist, and then you receive a check before you’ve actually worked. That very check is likely fraudulent and only being used to gain access to your bank account information. The moment you deposit that fraudulent check, your funds are already likely on their way out.

5. Multistage Grandparent Scam

An image of an elderly couple sitting next to each other.
Christian Bowen/unsplash

This is a nasty and elaborate version of the already established grandparent scam. The scammer will call and pretend that they’re a grandchild who has been arrested and needs bail money as soon as possible to get themselves out of a legal pinch. According to AARP, there are literal call centers that are outfitted with young people that are paid a few dollars for every grandparent they’re able to make contact with. Once they’ve woven the fabricated reality that they are grandchildren in dire need, they’ll provide the grandparents case numbers and then ask the grandparents to call their defense attorney or local prosecutor. As soon as the grandparents have made that next call, they usually employ the sneaky psychological trick to see if the grandparents will provide the case numbers. When they do, this suggests that they’re being compliant, and the likelihood of being able to get them to send thousands of dollars is extremely likely.

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