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6 Most Common Scams People Fall For and How to Avoid Them

6 Most Common Scams People Fall For and How to Avoid Them

We live in a great time of progress, leaps in technology and nearly unlimited access to free information, but the world doesn’t just stop being a dangerous place overnight. While curiosity, inventiveness, love and the urge to learn and create are big parts of human nature, so too are deceit, deception, greed and the desire to attain wealth without hard work. This is why there are a great number of con artists, scammers and smart thieves who are ready to take advantage of people’s gullibility, trusting nature and compassion.

You are not only at risk during holidays abroad–scammers can try to take advantage of you online, on the street and at your very own doorstep. It is important to learn about the common ploys used by these immoral individuals so that you can stay safe. What follows is a more detailed look at the biggest scams people usually fall for and tips on avoiding them.

1. Doorstep scams

Salesman at the door

    These include any scam where the con artist strikes when you are most relaxed and vulnerable–at home. They will often look for senior citizens and try to peddle cheap and fairly worthless items for an overblown price, and will come across as nice people looking to get rid of some quality products. Some may try to sell home maintenance services, while others will claim to be a city official who has come to perform tests or even try to get your private information by saying that they are there to do a survey.

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    Luckily doorstop scams can be easily thwarted. You just need to be cautious and ask to see official papers and identification. Make sure that you have a sturdy front door with a reinforced frame and preferably a door viewer, so that no one can just barge in by force.

    2. Online dating/internet bride scams

    There are plenty of people willing to get married for a green card, but they usually offer some form of monetary incentive for their would-be husband or wife. With dating scams it is a bit different. Everything seems to be going well for a week or two, but for some reason you can never meet in person. Then suddenly there is a crisis, or even several problems, that require a large sum of money for the person to get out of their strangely suspicious predicament.

    Women from third world countries will also start dating online and quickly start negotiating for a payment so they can come to the U.S. or another first world country so they can be close, and even marry their mark. Once the money is “loaned” they simply disappear. The best protection is to be very cautious, especially if you are a middle-aged man or woman and contacted by a young hottie in some sort of a financial bind.

    There are plenty of legit dating websites where you can meet people close to where you live and you can check them out on Facebook or meet in person.

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    3. Get-rich-quick phone and email scams

    Free cash

      The old Nigerian Prince email scam has now become such a cliché that even comics have stopped putting it in their jokes. However, people can get quite creative with their “good investment offers”. It’s usually someone who knows of a hole in the system or has a good investment tip, but lacks that capital to make any serious money out of it and needs the help of several other investors. While most modern con artists use email, some like to get personal and call your home.

      Random raffles and lotteries you haven’t even heard off will ask for some information or a small administrative fee so that they can send you your winnings. It is said that you can’t con someone who is not greedy, so being realistic and not looking for a way to make quick buck without breaking a sweat is a good way to stay out of trouble. You should be incredibly suspicious of deals that sound too good to be true, and should do your research on some of the most notorious scammers.

      4. Charity and sob story scams

      This type of scam is the most appalling, as it preys on kind and generous people who would have made a contribution to a worthwhile cause if not for the scammers. These come in many different forms, from people asking money for their child’s operation on the street, to very formal and polite people stopping you on the street, or coming to your door, and asking for a donation.

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      You can give a few bucks to a homeless person if you like, but avoid those asking you for money openly and aggressively, with a complex tear-jerking story prepared are best avoided. You can always make a donation to a good verified charity of your choice on your own terms and in the comfort of your own home.

      5. Airport security scam

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        Frequent travelers should be very cautious and keep a close eye on their luggage, as there are plenty of fast thieves who can just grab your luggage and run. They work in teams where one person will rush to get in front of you in line and set off the metal detector, fumbling around while his associate covertly snaps up your stuff from the conveyor belt–but there are even more sinister things to look out for.

        Connecting to a public Wi-Fi network or using Bluetooth in airports can result in your phone being hacked. It’s best to avoid using the public Wi-Fi altogether, or you can use a VPN on your laptop for added security.

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        6. Taxi with “broken” meter or driver who advises you to go to a different hotel

        Taxi drivers in front of the airport will say that their meter is broken and overcharge you, or tell you that the hotel you want to go to is overbooked due to an event or undergoing renovations and take you to some overpriced dump. He has a deal with the dump to get a cut every time he brings in a customer. Some drivers will drive you around the city, taking the scenic route, just to bump up the fare. Some go even further and conspire with someone working at the airport.

        You are greeted by a taxi driver holding up a sign with your name on it, and says that the hotel sent him to get you, and then stops half way asking for an obscene amount of money to drive you where you need to go or leave you stranded. In some cases they will just flat-out rob you, and there have been documented cases of kidnappings, particularly in South American countries. You should do some Google maps research to find direct routes form the airport and tell the driver which path to take, insist on going to your address and never get into a car with someone you haven’t called for who wants to take you somewhere. Have small bills on you so that they can’t cheat you out of change, and look for outdated currencies being given as change. If the meter doesn’t work, take another cab and be very assertive.

        It is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when you go through most of your life without being cheated out of your money or robbed. You start trusting people, and why shouldn’t you? Most people you meet are at least civil, while some are generous and kind, and very few are the annoying or violent type, and the latter can be spotted a mile away.

        If you haven’t dealt with morally corrupt people who will pretend to be nice, helpful or in need of help only to trick you, then it’s difficult to spot a scam coming. Thankfully, there is plenty of information available about the common scams available, and I hope this article has given you a basic idea of what to look for and how to stay safe.

        Featured photo credit: Angry con artist throwing monte (with suckers) tells me off for stealing his photons, Brick Lane, London, UK 2.JPG/Cory Doctorow via flickr.com

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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        Last Updated on January 15, 2021

        7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

        7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

        The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

        Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

        Posture

        First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

        • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
        • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
        • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
        • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

        All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

        Facial Expressions

        Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

        • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
        • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
        • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

        If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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        1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

        A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

        The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

        This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

        2. Relax Your Face

        New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

        The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

        To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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        3. Improve Your Eye Contact

        Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

        The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

        To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

        3. Smile More

        There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

        Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

        4. Hand Gestures

        Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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        It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

        5. Enhance Your Handshake

        In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

        “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

        It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

        6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

        As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

        Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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        Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

        Final Takeaways

        Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

        If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

        More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

        Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

        Reference

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