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Things I wish I knew to avoid getting scammed!

Large Wreath

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WE Development

Large Wreath

Content written by:

Liberty Neo

Last Updated:

9 June 2021 at 2:59:11 am

Image by Daniel Mirlea
How-to Guide

I did not expect this person is a scammer!!

Scams are dishonest schemes where victims are deceived, cheated, or threatened, which results in a loss. Even though we may be partially wary, falling for scams is common, especially when unsure about the situation. 

Here is the how-to guide to avoid these six types of scam!

1) Online scams

2) Social media scams

3) In-person scams

4) Phone / text scams

5) Mailing scams

6) Overseas scams

1) Online scams

How to recognize?

When an expensive product is advertised to have excellent benefits or at an unbelievably low price, you must be careful as it may be a scam.

Examples are:

- Poor or no reviews

- No certification for safe use and consumption

- Huge discounts far from the usual price

- Unclear refund policy

- Non-secure payment methods, such as Bitcoin or wire transfer. Unlike scams, reputable online sites will always allow you to pay by credit, debit cards, or PayPal.

How to avoid?

Look for product and seller reviews before purchasing anything online, even from reputable online e-commerce websites. If you are purchasing an item urgently, always think twice as the schedule may slip even though you paid more.

Use more reliable transaction methods. Refrain from using virtual currencies such as Bitcoin as they do not have customer protection policy unlike other secure transaction methods such as credit, debit cards or PayPal.

Before account registration, always ensure the site is not a phishing site created to steal your sensitive information. Sensitive information includes credit card details, address, IC number, usernames, and passwords.

2) Social media scams

How to recognize?

Scammers can create a fake identity by using personal information and pictures uploaded online by people you know. They could then use these fake or compromised accounts to trick you into giving them your personal information or money.

Things to watch out for:

- Accounts asking you to claim a prize

- Messages that appear to come from a friend with a suspicious link

- People you don't know asking you to send them money / personal information

- Accounts of public figures or large companies that are not verified

- People claiming to be social media security by asking you to provide account information

How to avoid?

Only allow accounts you trust to follow you to prevent any misuse of your personal information and photos. Do not click on suspicious links, give away money or personal information. Most importantly, do not create an account with them since you may be giving away your email and password unknowingly.

Protect yourself by reviewing your security and privacy settings on your social media accounts. In the event you suspect a dubious event, report and block it.

Choose passwords that are hard for others to guess. Refrain from using your NRIC, birthday, or name as your password. It would also be useful to change your password regularly.

3) In-person scams


In-person scams can be harder to detect because of the warm and direct involvement with the scammer. Therefore, victims will be less wary and less likely to foresee such scams. Scammers can also be persuasive in getting you to purchase a particular product or service you may not require.

How to recognize?

- Job scams – unclear job description, no proper work contract but with verbally-promised pay.

- Modeling scams – You are stopped on the streets and asked to be a model. When you visit their office, they asked you to pay for your photo shoot so you have a professional portfolio to get you clients.

- Romance scams – express strong emotions for you to gain your trust, always having reasons why money is needed urgently or not returning borrowed money on time

- Investment scams – promise of high returns with low or no risks, scammers may use pressure tactics to intimidate you to invest

- Membership scams – scammers may request you to pay an initial upfront fee in order to join membership, however payment has to be made through a third-party

- Multi-level Marketing (MLM) scams – Not all MLM are scammers, however, some will get their members to pay an upfront fee for products they do not need. Members are then told that they can get commissions by recruiting new members; or earn passive income by inviting friends to buy products from them

- Grey areas – There are many activities that appear in the grey area. For example, getting financial products that you do not need from your advisor, signing up for a financial freedom course that is not helpful to you

How to avoid?

- Job scams – Ensure that there is a valid contract offered by your employer. Only start work after you have signed and physically seen the contract terms and agreements. If you worked without any payment, inform the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) immediately and lodge a report against the company to prevent further such practices

- Modeling scams – Ask for the most recent modeling projects the company has taken and how many consistent ones were there. This gives you information on how frequently this agency takes projects and if their cashflow is via their clients or such scams.

- Romance scams – Take note of signs where your "partner" always borrows money from you without returning and giving various excuses. Always consider that this may be a scam no matter how persistent or desperate your "partner" is. Never give your bank details away!

- Investment scams – All investments carry risks. Be wary of opportunities that offer high returns at little to no risk. Do not rush into committing your money by checking and clarifying before you invest.

- Membership, MLM, and Grey Areas – before signing up for any products and services, always check and calculate if the product is worth your money and time

          - Ask yourself if you are purchasing the product for short or long-term benefits and are their alternatives better than proposed.

          - Do the math to rationalize your thoughts with them, be mindful that they may have other ways to make you believe in the value they proposed.

          - Always be firm to reject people even if you feel uncomfortable to leave or they are intimidating. You have every right to make your decisions best for you!

          - A right way is to tell them, "let me consider first", they will continue to be persistent, but at least you have ample time to think and act rationally.

4) Phone / text scams

How to recognize?

Calling and texting are platforms for scammers to leverage since people of all ages use it for convenience. Personal details can be easily given away if you are not careful, either through a phone call or by sending a simple text.

Examples include:

- Online betting or lottery messages which contain suspicious links

- Phone calls or text messages impersonating your loved ones asking for money or personal information

- Phone calls impersonating banking companies or agencies asking for money or personal information

- Phone calls impersonating delivery companies to inform you that they were unsuccessful in delivering a parcel. They offer redelivery, but payment has to be made first

How to avoid?

- Do not give any important information such as NRIC or credit card details over a call or text. It may be for convenience but doing so puts you at risk of a scam as you have no idea who is on the other end of the call, even with the phone number displayed on your screen

- Scammers could have impersonated your friends, family members, or agencies to coerce you to give out important card details. If unsure, always search up the company's website and call their official hotline to clarify again

- Always be wary of suspicious text messages containing links related to online betting or lottery. Also, avoid text messages that request you to send money or personal information. Report and block these phone numbers if necessary.

5) Mailing scams

How to recognize?

Mailing scams include actual mail via postal services as well as emailing. Mostly, random emails are offers or advertisements, but there is a risk it could be a mail scam.

Things to watch out for:

Mail scammers' main goal is to get victims to send money or provide personal information. They will do so by getting your attention with enticing offers or even sending threats to make you feel intimidated.

For instance, mail scams could include "requests to confirm your personal information", or "claims that you have been specially selected". This includes;

- Impersonating a website, bank, or online services you have an account with

- Impersonating a department from your company, especially if you are in a big MNC company

How to avoid?

Whenever a web link is provided, always ensure it is the same as the actual company's website. For example,

If the mail is from, it should not direct you to a link such as

Sometimes, the link may bear similar resemblances to the actual link as well. For example,; the extra "s" is hard to catch but will slip your eyes, assuming it is indeed from a trustable source.

To reduce your risk of being scammed, remove yourself from unnecessary mailing list.

As this scam applies to emails, you are highly encouraged to use two emails. One for legitimate purposes while the other for general usage. Since certain websites online require you to subscribe or create accounts using your email address, it is safer to use this general account to prevent scamming and phishing incidents.

Once you recognize such letters, be sure to take cautious steps and lodge a police report. Call the company's official hotline to clarify.

6) Overseas scams

How to recognize?

Overseas scams are prominent because tourists can be easy targets in foreign lands.

Examples include:

Taxi drivers will inform you that the meter is broken and charge you a ridiculous price.

Friendly scammers will stop to chat with you, giving you a free "friendship" bracelet and tie it around your wrist. Once it forms a dead knot, they will cause a scene and demand payment for the bracelet.

Scammers will place paintings flat on the ground; in the event when you accidentally step on them without looking, they will demand a hefty price

Scammers could offer to take photos for you or kindly guide you to your destination before demanding you to pay them for helping.

Pickpocketing scams could occur where a scammer could speak to you or cause a distraction while the accomplice will aim to pickpocket your phone or wallet.

Fake police officers impersonated by scammers could request for you to show them your NRIC, passport or demand that you need to pay a fine

On the other hand, romance scammers can also request you to transfer them money overseas, citing excuses for needing the money for an emergency. They often do not keep their promises and always have reasons why they cannot travel to meet you

How to avoid?

Be wary of strangers in a foreign land even though the country is well known to be safe. Do your research beforehand, note down the embassy's number or local police number.

Never hand over your wallet or passport, even if it is the police officer. Read the situations carefully.

Before entering any taxi, always negotiate the driver's fees first or ensure that the meter is working. Otherwise, purchase a taxi receipt from the taxi kiosk.

If possible, always identify and ask fellow tourists to help you take pictures.

Do not save any pictures of your NRIC / credit cards on your phone, even if it's for convenience purposes. This is to prevent the scammer from knowing your card details in the event your phone gets stolen.

Never send money to someone you have not met before in person. Always consider that this may be a scam no matter how persistent or desperate your "partner" is

Additional Tips

Once you have your suspicions, immediately seek a close friend/family member for advice to help confirm if you are dealing with a scam.

You may consider searching online for details of the company and its product/service to identify if the proposal is a scam.

In the event of a monetary loss:

- Call your bank to suspend your bank account immediately to prevent any further losses

- Lodge a police report

- Explain clearly the details of what happened to the bank and the police. 

If you have fallen into such scams before, set aside a period to mourn and reflect so you can be warier next time. Questions like;

- In what ways were you not vigilant?

- In what ways could you have prevented such a scam from happening again?

- Why were you easily targeted?

- Were things too good to be true?

- Any initial signs you missed?

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