Have you ever gotten one of those messages or calls saying you’re entitled to an inheritance that remains unclaimed? If you don’t know any of your relatives who have recently passed away, then it’s most likely that you’re being targeted by a scammer.
It’s very common for scammers to go after people by tricking them into thinking they have some money waiting for them. They’ll usually tell you that in order for you to get the money, you’ll need to pay for lawyer fees, federal taxes, or anything else. It’s a sneaky way for them to try to get your personal information and get their hands on your hard-earned money.
The goal of an inheritance scam is to trick you into sending money by claiming that you are the rightful heir to a large sum from a wealthy donor or a distant cousin, for example. Fraudsters can get in touch with you by email, phone call, text message, or on social media and pretend to be a banker, foreign official, or lawyer to convince you that some wealth rightfully belongs to you.
They may also claim that “your relative” has passed away without a will and that you are entitled to their full estate with the use of some legal loopholes. But the con artist will either ask you for money to release the inheritance and disappear with the cash or request sensitive information to try to steal your identity.
Scammers are very persistent and will try a variety of strategies to make you believe their story is true. But if you keep your eyes open, you can most definitely recognize the warning signs and avoid falling for the scam. Let’s discuss some of these warning signs:
- Someone unexpectedly contacts you, pretending to be a banker or lawyer, and offers you a substantial inheritance from a long-lost relative you have never heard of.
- You receive an official-looking letter in the mail offering you an inheritance, but it’s riddled with typos and is just poorly written.
- To claim the inheritance, you must pay a certain sum.
- You’re asked to provide copies of government-issued identification and bank account details to validate the heritage.
- You are shown forged birth certificates, bank statements, or other documents to prove the legitimacy of the inheritance if you dare to question it.
- Even though the heritage seems important, the fraudster suddenly never has a chance to meet with you in person.
Here we’ll discuss some precautions you can take if you believe you’re being scammed.
- Never give out your financial information, such as your credit card number, bank account information, or online account details, to someone you don’t know.
- If a scammer is reaching out to you over the phone, search their phone number on Nuwber to see who it belongs to. If it belongs to the person who is talking to you and you want to learn about who they are, Nuwber will provide you with the necessary information. You will find this person’s address, email, relatives, place of work, and much more.
- Avoid responding to the con artist once you’ve noticed any red flags. Scammers will do their utmost to try to fool you by making you feel like they know you very well.
- Never accede to anyone’s request for you to pay an up-front charge using unconventional payment methods like cryptocurrency, gift cards, money orders, wire transfers, or the like.
- Don’t open the attachments or click on the links in the message.
- If the person is being too persistent or even aggressive, block them.
In the event that you fall prey to an inheritance scam, here are a few steps you may take to safeguard your assets and personal information:
If a fraudster reached out to you online, take screenshots of every conversation. If they managed to write you a letter, take a picture of it and don’t throw the letter away. It’s imperative to do all of this to later prove that you’re not making anything up.
You must report the scam to the appropriate authorities so that they are aware of it and have a greater chance of putting an end to it. Here’s who you can contact:
- Your local police department
- Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI
- Your state’s attorney general
- The Federal Trade Commission
- If you were targeted through the mail, contact the Postal Inspection Service.
If you have already paid money to the con artist, you should get in touch with the financial institution or credit card company through which you made the payment and let them know about the situation. They might be able to cancel the transactions that you’ve made. Most companies that issue credit cards provide customers with protection against fraudulent activities.
If you gave the imposter any documentation that could be used to verify your identity, you should reach out to one of the three credit bureaus so that they can place a fraud alert on your account. You can also take the additional precaution of placing a freeze on your credit report to prevent identity theft.
Scams involving heritage have existed for as long as there have been online communications, and they have only become more common with time. Unfortunately, if you fall for this hoax, the only things you will inherit are identity theft, loss of money, and other problems.
Fraudsters will try anything to get their hands on your money. You can protect yourself from becoming a victim by being aware of certain red flags. If you suspect fraud, there are things you can do. And if you are unfortunate enough to have become a victim, you need not worry; there are measures you can take to protect your finances and privacy in the event of a breach.