Scams are prevalent worldwide. These manipulators want to make a quick buck or do nefarious things with your information. In the United States, one in ten adults falls for a scam each year, making it a severe problem.
Victims of these scams don’t just get their information stolen, they also face the mental health impacts of being scammed. Here are five you should know about.
When someone gets scammed, they’ll likely have a high-stress level due to what they lost. It’s stressful when something goes wrong and the fears associated with what the scammer is doing with their money and information.
Stress left unchecked contributes to increased depression and anxiety symptoms and can manifest in various physical symptoms like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
It can take a while for the stress to go away, which can lead to long-term physical and emotional damage.
Anxiety is common among scam victims because they fear the impact of getting scammed and that they’ll get scammed again.
Symptoms of anxiety include heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea and lightheadedness. It can also increase your blood pressure levels, which increases your heart attack and stroke risk. Frequent anxiety can cause insomnia and contribute to other mental health disorders such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Scam victims sometimes avoid taking legitimate opportunities because they fear getting scammed again.
Isolating from friends and family can be a side effect of getting scammed. Embarrassment and anxiety can lead to victims avoiding social interactions, especially when money or sharing personal information.
The unwillingness to do things with family and friends causes social isolation, which contributes to poor mental health.
This isolation can lead to insomnia, depression, and impaired heart health and immunity.
Getting scammed can cause a large amount of shame. No one wants to believe they’re gullible enough to fall for a scam, even though it is not their fault.
People who feel shame can feel worthless and depressed. They might not feel like they’re able to be independent, which can lead to co-dependency. It can also lead to low self-esteem and health problems like disordered eating and cardiovascular problems.
Shame can be hard to shake, and the more a victim hears about someone avoiding a scam, the worse the shame can get.
Once someone gets scammed, regret can hit hard. They regret falling for a scam, that scammers exist and that they need to enlist the help of others to resolve it.
Feelings of regret can increase stress and anxiety, which leads to various health conditions, such as heart disease and lowered immunity.
Regret is a hard feeling to result as the cause is already over. They can’t undo the scam.
How to Avoid Getting Scammed
Thankfully, you can avoid these impacts by avoiding scams in the first place. There are many safeguards you can put into place to avoid scams.
Don’t Open Emails From Unknown Senders
Scammers tend to get their victims through attractive-looking email offers. If you can’t identify the email address sent, do not open it. If you end up opening an email that says it is from a company you follow, dig deeper before you respond.
You can hover your mouse over the sender name in many email servers to see if the email address checks out. Sometimes, a scammer will say they are from a person or company you know, but the actual address isn’t from the company.
Let the Phone Ring
You can avoid scam phone calls by waiting to answer the phone. Scammers can clone numbers, making you look like a friend or relative is calling your phone when they’re not.
If you aren’t expecting a phone call from someone, you can wait to see if they leave a message. Scammers often leave messages about a car warranty, security threats or fake bank charge.
You can always call the actual person from your contact list or dial their number to confirm it was or was not them. You can avoid this on your cell phone by making your contact names something other than the person’s name.
Never Remotely Share Sensitive Information
Common scams involve you confirming your identity by giving your social security number or bank account number. Sharing those details over the phone or email can lead to scammers draining your accounts or doing bad things in your name.
You also should never share account credentials via these methods, as scammers can use your login information to enter the associated account and guess credentials on other websites.
Look for Typos
Scam emails often have spelling or formatting errors in them. The scammers do it on purpose to weed out people who won’t fall for the scam. The typos can also confuse an email server’s spam filter, sending them to your inbox instead of the spam folder.
If you see an email that looks a little off, chances are it’s a scam.
Don’t Click Suspicious Links
Scammers are now sending suspicious links via text and social media messaging. It’s easy to be curious about links you get on your mobile devices, but it’s important to be cautious when dealing with any unsolicited message.
If a friend gets hacked, scammers can send messages through their accounts. Only click a link if you are positive that it is safe to click.
What To Do if You’re Scammed
If you fall victim to the scam, don’t panic. Scammers are excellent at manipulation and it’s not your fault.
The first thing to do is identify what a scammer can do with the information you gave them. Change account passwords and contact your bank or other professional agencies.
Once you’ve told everyone that needs to know about your information getting taken, you can report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission so they can work to stop it.
Avoiding the Impact of Scams
Scams are terrible ways to trick people into providing personal information or access to it. By staying vigilant and knowing the risks, you can avoid the mental health impacts of scams.