How do you avoid this type of scam? Here are some good clues that a scammer, and not someone looking for a babysitter, is on the other side of the computer:
- Not A+ Language: Although most of us don't consider ourselves to be experts at the English language, it's a good idea to see if the scammer is. Do they place a question mark at the end of a sentence that should have a period? See if any of the sentences make sense. If the sentences are confusing, don't reply back.
- They complicate things: In this type of scam, we would think to ourselves-"Well, why didn't they just write two checks? That would have been easier!" LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCT. If they easily sent a check to your home, they can just as easily send another check to the store.
- Check the names: A good scammer will use the same names for their children, but if they are scamming many people, they may get confused and be a victim in their own web of lies. If they tell you they have two boys, James and John, one day and the names are Peter and Paul the next day, there's a very good chance it is a scam.
- Ask questions: Many of us don't want to be rude and bother people with useless questions, but always ask them. If you have a solution (they could write two checks or send one to the store themselves), politely email that advice. If they are contacting you every day with updates, it is ok to contact them as well with questions.
- Avoid Sympathy: Most of us want to help people and we offer to help in any way we can. Don't let the "sob story" affect your judgment. If something seems off, it usually is.
- Listen to the Words: Many scammers use the same email format (there is a chain of emails for each reply and they stick to that chain-none of the emails are personalized) so try to throw them off by having "something suddenly come up." If they completely ignore your reply in the next email and re-send the instructions again, you know you are dealing with a scammer.
- Watch the tone: Scammers become more and more impatient and just need a confirmation that everything has been done. They just want to scam you and move on-to the next person. If they become increasingly impatient, it is okay to back out of the babysitting job.
- Check the check: It sounds silly, but before you cash anything that is sent to you, have the bank or police make sure the check is good. See if the name matches, the account number is legitimate, and that the account has sufficient funds. If anything is wrong, do not cash the check. Head straight to the police station and explain the situation to the authorities.
- Get opinions: We ask for advice in almost every aspect of our lives. Get the opinion of friends and family and see what they think. Don't be embarrassed about the situation youare in-your friends and family want to help you avoid the scam too!
Above all else, listen to your instincts. If your instincts say no, don't go!