Scam methods have increased and gotten sophisticated in recent times. They affect people of all classes and nationalities. In Chef Training U.S. one of our main objectives is to protect our candidates from scammers, and keep their data, their money and their identities safe. For that reason we, as a company, are not only absolutely transparent in our information and procedures, but we also give you some tips to be aware of the most common scams and to keep yourself protected. In this article you will find some tips to keep away from criminals and you will learn some of the most common scamming methods our candidates have encountered.
Tips to be aware and safe from scams
– Use common sense: although this sounds very vague and obvious, follow your gut and don’t be naïve when it comes to your money or your personal data. The best rule to follow “If it looks too good to be true, it is probably not true”. Unless you have heard experiences from people you trust or you have researched enough, don’t give away any money or information to people you don’t trust.
– Never give in to pressure or threats: Many scammers will use pressure to get something from you (like telling you will lose a price if you don’t give your bank details right away, for example). Others will threaten you with arrest, imprisonment, court trials or deportation. Never believe this and report the scammer. No real official law enforcement institution will threaten you. They will always send an official written letter to notify of any law enforcement.
– Protect your accounts and Social Media: use strong passwords (with letters, capitals, numbers and symbols) for your accounts (emails, Amazon, iTunes, Social, any website registration) and change them every so often. Never share your passwords. Have a strict privacy on your Social Media and be careful with the information you post on it. Scammers will use names of people you know (friends) or information they can find about you to try to gain your trust or threaten you. Be wary of new friend requests, and possible false profiles that randomly add you as a friend.
– Research about the sender: when you are unsure if something is a Scam or not, because it looks very legit, research the company or individual who has contacted you. You can trace his/her email address, phone number, or any other detail with a simple search on the Internet. If it’s a company, check their website and also search them in a search engine, so you can get information from other people who have previously been in contact with them. If you have only had contact by phone or email with the person, ask them to do a video call (many scammers will disappear after this request). If they accept, take a picture during the call, so you have their face in case they trick you.
– Don’t open suspicious text, pop-ups or emails: Be careful when opening your emails and texts, and never click on suspicious links, photos or attachments. If they look like a Scam, delete them. If you are not sure if it could be real, check the email account or phone number that sent you the text, and even respond “What are you sending to me?” to see if the response is professional and trustworthy.
– Protect your money: Never give your bank details to a company or individual you don’t trust. Be wary of unusual payment methods like prepaid debit cards, iTunes cards, gift cards, or non-traceable methods (Money Gram, Western Union). Use only bank transfers (verify the recipient’s information with the bank first if you are unsure of its existence) and reliable and traceable on-line platforms (PayPal, Transfer-Wire). When shopping on-line be wary of sales and deals that are “too good to be true”.
Some examples of the most common Scams
Now that you know how to protect yourself and your information and accounts from scammers, we want to navigate you through some of the most common Scams you can encounter during your experience in the USA (many also outside of the USA). Obviously this is only a compiled sample of the many possibilities that scammers make up every day to take advantage of your money or your personal information. So be aware that there are many others that don’t appear here and you should take caution. You can find more on the website of the USA government.
– Unexpected price or reward: you receive a call or text saying you have won a price (vacation, subscriptions, lotteries…) and the scammer asks for your personal details and/or your bank account information to give you the money. They might also ask you to pay “administrative fees” to receive your prize. Do not believe them and report them. If you have participated in a real contest, the results shall be public and signed by a notary. Ask where to find them. To avoid getting Scam calls, register in the National Do not Call Registry. IMPORTANT! Never say “yes”, “positive” or “I understand and agree” on the phone, even if the question is as simple as “do you hear me?” Say “I hear you”. Scammers can record your voice saying yes and use it to prove you agreed to the Scam.
– Banking Scams: a scammer sends you a check to deposit or to cash it, either for no reason or with a suspicious explanation. This is normally a trick. Do not ever get checks from companies or individuals you don’t work for or you don’t trust. Definitely never cash a check for someone else (be aware money-laundering is a crime!). If you are unsure, go to your bank and ask them to verify the validity of the check and trace the sender before depositing or cashing it. Also, if you receive an email asking you to verify your bank account or credit card details, delete it right away. Your bank would never ask you for this. They have all your details in the system.
– Accommodation scams: there is a large number of scammers that use housing to trick people into a scam. For this reason Chef Training US always recommends you search your accommodation on site, not from overseas. There are individuals that post fake pictures of rooms, very well located and at a good price. Then they ask you for a “deposit” to reserve the room. When you get to your destination, the apartment does not exist and the room was fictional. You lost your deposit. Be cautious even with Airbnb or Booking.com; check that the place has reviews and it’s not a new posting. When you finally find your accommodation in your USA destination, always have a lease or contract that proves the terms of your stay and the dates and price of the rent. Always ask for a receipt for any payment you render to your landlord, and refuse to pay if he/she doesn’t want to give you such receipt (signed). The law protects you and you can’t be kicked out of the apartment, even if he/she threatens you with that, do not be scared.
– Immigration Department and Department of State imposters: If you receive a call or email allegedly from the Department of State asking to verify your identity, to ask you for your visa number or to verify your bank information, do not believe it. Or if they say that you had a problem with your visa paperwork and you need to pay a fee to get it resolved, do not make any payment. Try to get as much information as possible on the person calling you, hang up and get in touch with your Sponsor in the USA. If there is any information that needs to be provided they will know your status and legal situation.
– IRS Imposters: the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is the institution in charge of collecting your taxes. Scammers might call you saying that you owe taxes or that you need to verify your bank account information, and they might threaten you with deportation or arrest if you don’t pay your taxes. Never believe this. IRS would never threaten you. They will inform you by sending you a written letter. If you are unsure whether the issue can be true ask for the name and number of badge of the person who called you and check that information with the IRS calling the TIGTA in this number: 1-800-366-4484.
As you can see, scams are all around us and sadly this long article is just a very brief sample of all the possible tricks that criminals can invent to get you involved in their activities. At Chef Training US we aim to protect our candidates and their money. If you ever have a concern, we will be there to listen and try our best to guide you onto the right path with the resources and information we know.