If you receive a phone call from an unknown number, feel free to answer, but keep your guard up. There are plenty of scammers preying and looking for opportunities to scam over the phone. They may tell you that you won a prize, that they need you to confirm your account information, or, if they're playing really dirty, they may tell you that someone close to you is in danger.
Try to remain calm, ask them why they are calling, and if you can't get an answer, hang up and report the call to the Federal Trade Commission. If you are continuously receiving sales calls, you can register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
That Nigerian prince who needs your help? He's probably some guy sitting behind a computer, hoping that someone falls for his plot. These scams come in many forms, but a lot of them have the same goal: tricking you into giving up your personal information. They might be posing as an individual informing you that you've won a contest, asking for your investment in a promising business venture, or luring you into taking a survey about something you've expressed interest in before. Almost every time, these are scams.
Take the time to assess the situation. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If the link that was emailed to you looks like it is going to take you to an unfamiliar site, don't click on it and delete the email. You might end up accidentally downloading malware that can infect the files on your computer. You can always search the Internet and try to find information on whether or not this is a classic email scam.
Social media scams
The most recent type of scamming revolves around your social media profiles. If you receive a Facebook message from an acquaintance with a link to a news article that is supposedly about you, don't fall for it. This is probably not true. A scammer has hacked into your Facebook friend's profile and is sending messages in an attempt to gain your social password so that they can do the same to you. Try to contact the user via a different platform to inform them they have been hacked, and delete them as a friend in order to ensure that you won't fall victim to the hacker.
You should also be on the lookout for fake fundraising campaigns. Believe it or not, there are some people who will create campaigns for seemingly worthy causes like a sick baby or injured animal, but they're really raising money for not-so-worthy causes, like their bank accounts. It can be difficult to detect, but make sure you fully investigate before you donate.
Scamming has been around in one form or another since the beginning of time, and, unfortunately, it's not going to go away. The best ways to protect yourself from scams is to stay educated and up-to-date about types of fraudulent behavior, to do research when you think someone is trying to scam you, and to trust your instincts.