The Internet has not only revolutionized things like the music, banking, and retail industries, it has also been a boon to purveyors of hoaxes and scams. Sometimes these are one in the same. Oddly, the very thing that has caused the upswing in the spreading of these, schemes, rumors, and hoaxes is the exact same thing that can confirm or refute them: the Internet. Many people though, don’t bother and believe anything they receive in an email or see on a social media site like Facebook. Websites like Snopes and Hoax Slayer can quickly clear up the confusion. Toward that end, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top money-related Internet scams and rumors that are actually hoaxes.
It’s illegal to carry more than $10,000 in cash
This rumor may have grown out of an actual U.S. law, but it is nonetheless false. A person can carry $10,000 in cash (or more). Whether it’s wise to do so is another matter. The misunderstanding probably derives from the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. This law requires banks to report transactions of over $10,000 to the United States Treasury. Under a different law, persons entering the U.S. with more than $10,000 are required to declare that money. The existence of these two laws makes the rumor about individuals in the U.S. being prohibited from carrying more than $10,000 cash quite believable, even though it is an urban legend.
The $50 Porsche
This is an old urban legend that goes back as far as the 1970s and still manages to resurface in various forms from time to time. The basic story is that a woman sells her husband’s Porsche for $50 after he runs off with a younger woman. In Britain it’s often a Rolls Royce sold for 5 pounds. It’s has all of the constructs of a classic urban legend in which a person who has been victimized cleverly gets revenge.
Cashiers steal by secretly okaying cash back requests on debit card purchase
As with any good rumor or urban legend, this one sounds perfectly plausible. The only problem is, cashiers are incapable of doing such a thing, as the cash registers possess no such function. Only customers can ok such a transaction from the pad in front of them. The only way a cashier would be able to authorize cash back is by leaning over, in plain sight of the customer, and pressing that button on the pad. If a cashier did do this, security cameras, and frequent register audits performed by most stores, would expose this scheme quickly.
If you don’t hit “Clear” at the gas pump, a station employee can charge gas on your card.
Snopes spoke to a person who works for a company that manufactures gas pumps. That person told the website that once you hang up the nozzle, the transaction is complete. In other words, say you decided you wanted a few more gallons after you had re-attached the nozzle to the pump. You’d have to start an entirely new transaction.
The one about Facebook charging $2.99 a month originates on a satirical news site called The National Report according to Hoax Slayer. Satirical news sites like The Onion and The Daily currant often often run stories that people believe to be true. This has been one of the most popular over the years.
The Facebook privacy post is another one that appears constantly, despite it having been debunked several times. The premise is simple enough; users post a statement indicating that Facebook does not own the rights to the content that person shares. The user invites friends to copy and paste the notice. Hoax Slayer describes this as “completely pointless and misleading.” No money is involved, but if you value your time it’s a little costly.
Bill Gates and Microsoft
This one dates back to 1997 according to Snopes and originally showed up in peoples email inboxes. It experienced a resurgence on Facebook a few years ago, which was an even better vehicle for this hoax which centered on a fictitious marketing effort by Microsoft. Essentially by forwarding the email users would earn $245.00. If that person in turn forwarded it, an extra $244.00 was earned, and so on. The Facebook version has people share the post stating that Bill Gates and Microsoft are running this promotion. It was one of the first digital chain letters, and just like its printed ancestors, was hokum.
An oldie, but goodie, it’s surprising this one hasn’t turned up in a while. From 1999, an email tells the recipient about House Bill 602p. Sounds official, right? In an effort to stem losses by the U.S. Postal Service, the emails reports, Congress is getting ready to enact legislation that will levy a 5 cent surcharge on all emails with the money going to the Post Office. The original email also contains this interesting nugget: “Since the average citizen received about 10 pieces of email per day in 1998, the cost to the typical individual would be an additional 50 cents per day, or over $180 dollars per year, above and beyond their regular Internet costs.” Only 10 emails a day? Boy, it would be worth the 5 cents to keep it that low today. Toward the end of the email a made-up Congressman, Tony Schnell, is quoted. The email also states that “most of the major newspapers have ignored the story.” Yes, because it wasn’t true.
Easy to check
Snopes and Hoax Slayer are great resources for verifying things that look fishy (or phishy— as in scams that try to get your personal info) on the Internet. Simply use the Internet. Type the keywords from the post or email in question into your favorite search engine and you will quickly be able to determine the accuracy of the information.
Research and insights provided by Check ‘N Go.