Some people are more susceptible to financial scams than others. According to the AARP Fraud Watch Network, there are several personality traits that can contribute to a person being more apt to fall for a scam, whether it’s a phone scam, an online scam, or even in-person. However, when you’re aware of your own behavior, you can be extra vigilant should a scammer try to weasel
their way into your pocketbook.
While this isn’t a negative personality trait by any means, having respect for authority can spell trouble when someone calls pretending to be with the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the FBI, or any number of government agencies. Many people feel compelled to follow instructions given by the person on the other end of the phone, but it’s crucial to remember that no government agency will ever call demanding money.
People-pleasers are often susceptible to scams, as these people just want to help out. Sometimes, scammers call or send an email with a sob story, and you just want to do the right thing. Or you may get an email from a colleague or boss requesting money (or gift cards). Many scammers target small businesses and prey on employees who want to please their boss. Always verify the legitimacy of these kinds of messages before doing anything.
Scammers routinely target people who are stressed. For example, following the death of a loved one, there are people who read the obituaries looking for opportunities. Sometimes they claim to be a long-lost relative looking to get in on some of the inheritance. Other times, they search out the address of the deceased to rob their home. There are also scammers who use this time of stress and grief to get other family members to hand over money. Stress clouds people’s judgment, but it’s still up to us to look for red flags that something isn’t right.
Finally, scammers often go after people who have already been scammed. If a person falls for a call or a phishing email, that person gets put on a list. The scammers will eventually reach out again in the hopes of repeating their initial “success.” To make matters worse, AARP reports that the scammers sell these “success lists” to other scammers. It’s a win-win for them, and it leaves you vulnerable to future scams. However, the more informed you are about scams and how they work, the better prepared you can be should you be targeted.