What’s a scam that’s become so normalized that we no longer realize it’s a scam | Starah

Find out what scams have become so normal in our society, as it can be hard to tell if they are even scams. Common activities online and offline have turned into traps for the unwary consumer.

What do you think of when I say the word “scam”? Maybe you think of get-rich-quick schemes or pyramid schemes. But what about everyday activities that we take for granted, like online shopping or bill payments? Are they as safe as we think they are? In this blog post, I’m going to explore some common scams that have become so normalized that we don’t even realize they’re scams, and what you can do if you unwittingly fall prey.

One example of a scam that has become normalized is the idea that college degrees always lead to good jobs and high salaries. It’s now common for people to take on tens of thousands of dollars in student debt to get a degree from a prestigious school, only to find that they’re unable to find a job in their field that pays enough to cover their debt payments. And many people are now starting to realize that you don’t need a college degree at all to be successful.

We recently took our 13-year-old to a university open day as suggested by their high school. After watching the demonstration on stop-motion character animation, I realized how unimportant having a degree was if there is no real-world experience gained. And most of the time, we can only gain this through paid employment, to be working in a chosen field daily, and using the skills that companies need to produce their creations.

There are countless other examples of scams that have become normalized, such as the idea that you need to buy a new car every few years, or that you need to have the latest smartphone. It’s commonly referred to as ‘keeping up with the Jone’s’. And it’s a scam perpetrated via societal constructs that have roots deep into the oligarchy which, would need warranting its own investigation.

Another normalized scam is phishing. This is where scammers will send you an email or text message that looks like it’s from a legitimate company or organization, but when you click on the link, it takes you to a fake website designed to steal your personal information.

In my old customer service role, I would get several callers a day that would express concern over an unfamiliar, yet familiar-looking text they received regarding paying a fee before our organization would ship their delivery. I’d patiently wait while they read out each sentence, including grammatical errors, and the never-ending web address, before finally ending their pain by letting them know it’s a scam message.

From there, I would advise them of our privacy policies and language used when communicating updates and information. But what did they do with that? How can you report a scam message? If they continued to talk about how concerned they were, I would always refer them to Scam Watch, a government website for people to report scam messages, to alert authorities.

We’ve also recently completed training in consumer law through my employer dealing with this exact issue. Scam messaging is providing false or misleading information to consumers, and is a punishable crime, depending which state or country you reside.

It’s hard to know what’s a scam and what isn’t in our society today. Scams have become so normalized that we often don’t realize when we are being scammed. The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of these scams and know how to report them if you fall victim. What is a scam that you have seen or been caught up in? Share your story with us in the comments below.

Stay wise xx


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