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How to detect fraudulent inheritance offers

Everyone could use a gift of cash out of the blue. Unfortunately, these kinds of offers are almost always too good to be true.

This is what makes inheritance scams so tempting. A California resident could receive a random letter or email notifying them that they are the beneficiary of an estate. The letter claims that they are entitled to a portion of wealth – as long as the writer can “verify” the resident’s identity.

How do inheritance scams operate?

In most cases, the person presenting the inheritance offer is not who they claim to be. They may pretend to be a lawyer or a bank executive, but they could be anyone in reality. Scammers use these titles to gain their target’s trust.

Next, scammers attempt to excite their target. The letter could reveal that a lavish sum of money is unclaimed or that the person is a beneficiary of foreign royalty. Unfortunately, some people might become swept up in this fantastical promise and forget about their security.

Once a scammer lures their target into the offer, they ask for personal information. Although they might act like they are comparing the person’s answers to their own file, they are recording the information for their own purposes. In many cases, this allows the scammer to steal their identity and make purchases with the person’s bank account or credit card.

Safeguard yourself from false offers

While these kinds of offers are usually fraudulent, it is possible that you are a legitimate beneficiary of an estate without knowing ahead of time. Learning to tell the difference can keep you and your family safe from scams.

An important step in detecting a real inheritance offer is figuring out whether the person presenting the information is genuine and reputable. If they claim to be an attorney or bank official, identify their place of employment. You may be able to call the firm and ask to speak with the employee for confirmation. An independent attorney in your community can also examine the claim on your behalf.

Estate administration, probate matters and beneficiary assistance should be managed with the help of a lawyer who is qualified in the state of their practice. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a claim, you can report any suspicious activity to the police for further investigation.

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