Do You Know How To ID A Scam?
According to Scamguard.com, over 100 million consumers in the U.S. have had personal data including social security numbers stolen this year. Criminals can use your identity to open credit cards, obtain fake mortgages, loans, and cash advances. There are ways to protect yourself from these scams, as well as ways to identify these scams, so that you can avoid falling victim in 2018.
Ten of the top scams for 2015 include:
- Tech Support Scams: Scammers call potential victims and state that they’re with a big name tech company. Potential victims are told that their computers are infected with a virus, and the scammers will ask to be granted access to the victims computer to troubleshoot and fix the issue. Once inside the computer, scammers infect the computer system with viruses. The goal of these scammers is to access your computer so that they can cause errors, and charge for unnecessary repair services.
- Fake/Counterfeit Merchandise Scams: Scammers set up generic online stores that sell name brand products at reduced prices, or mimic websites of name brand companies. The goal of these scammers is to obtain victims’ credit card numbers to make future purchases online, or make money selling credit card information on the black market.
- Pets-For-Sale Scams: These scammers create fake websites claiming to have a relationship with a pet adoption agency or an animal nursery. Animals on these sites will be advertised at very low prices, and sometimes be offered for free. Potential victims are advised that they must pay for shipping and other services associated with the delivery of the pet with non-refundable cash-like forms of payment, or wire transfer money to a foreign bank account.
- Grant Scam: Scammers will contact potential victims stating that they represent the United States government, and advise that they are able to provide grant money for a simple processing fee. The scammers will also ask a potential victim to pay them a non-refundable cash-like payment, such as MoneyGram, Western Union, or wire transfer. Once the processing fee is collected, scammers will use the victims banking information to gain access of additional funds, or sell the information on the black market.
- Collection Agency Scams: Scammers will pose as a representative from a collection agency, and make cold calls to potential victims threatening lawsuits or at work confrontations unless a payment is made. Scammers will support claims with real details about a potential victim’s outstanding loans. The scammers will ask that you make a non-refundable payment, and will repeat harassment to obtain multiple payments.
- Vacation & House Rental Scams: Scammers advertise properties in low crime neighborhoods for prices that are far below average on websites such as Craigslist and Backpage. Scammers will use phone numbers from foreign countries and utilize text messaging to communicate with potential victims. Victims will be requested to send an up-front non-refundable payment.
- Payday Loan Scams: Scammers will advise potential victims that they qualify for low interest loans, and can obtain money immediately with the payment of a processing fee. Scammers will request money upfront, and never follow through with any form of loan. Scammers may advise that they need access to a victim’s bank account for direct deposit; instead scammers will steal money from the victim’s bank account, or sell the bank account information on the black market.
- Timeshare Resale Scams: These scammers advise potential victims that they have buyers or renters that are ready to take over a timeshare immediately. Scammers will require a fee upfront in order to move forward with the sale. Scammers will advise that a fee is necessary for appraisal, marketing analysis, closing costs, etc.
- Work From Home Scams: Scammers will use job search websites to lure victims, and will go through the interview process with the potential victim, usually via Internet communications. Once the victim is “hired”, scammers use stolen credit cards to buy goods, and ship them to victims with instructions on how to open the packages, inspect the merchandise, and then ship it somewhere else. Shortly after, the scammers will stop all communications with the victim, or send the victim checks for more than the amount agreed upon. Victims are asked to deposit the check into their bank account and use the over payment amount to make a transfer to one or more people who weren’t paid. The check will bounce, and the victim will have worked for free, and lost the additional money from the over payment.
- Fraudulent Check Scams: Victims will receive checks for much higher amounts than expected. The victims are convinced to send back the over payment amount via a cash-like payment or wire transfer. When the checks bounce, the victim will have paid for the over payment amount out of his or her own pocket.
Thankfully there are ways to prevent becoming a victim of a scam.
- Never allow anyone to have remote access to your computer.
- Always verify the identity of a website before making a purchase. If you have doubts, call the company via the number provided on the “Contact Us” page.
- Avoid paying for a pet using a cash transfer method.
- Block callers who offer grant money at a fee.
- Block all collection calls, unless you know that you have bad debt and owe money to collections agencies. Report collections agency scammers right away to the appropriate government agency.
- If you plan to rent a house or vacation property, make sure to always pay for your rent using a check or credit card, as checks and credit cards leave paper trails that can be tracked by police.
- Never agree to pay upfront fees to anyone offering a loan over the phone.
- Never agree to pay upfront fees to anyone that offers to sell or rent your timeshare, or to refer you to buyers. Instead, list your timeshare on timeshare selling websites like redweek.com or timesharemarketplace.com.
- Do not agree to receive and ship packages from your home, and never refund money from a paycheck as a bank transfer. Always ask the company that issued the check to re-issue the check for the correct amount.
- Never accept checks that are higher than the agreed upon amount, and never agree to send money back. Always make sure to ask your credit union if the check cleared before sending the merchandise on to the “buyer.”
Information for this blog post was collected from SCAMGUARD.