Thursday, February 6, 2020

Four Common Scams and How to Avoid Them

I recently attended a seminar called Identifying and Avoiding Scams. The speaker, a bank fraud specialist, described three key steps: know the types of scams that are out there, learn the identifying characteristics of scams, and avoid scams. People over age 55 are especially scam targets because they have the most wealth. Crooks go “where the money is.” 

Below is a description of four common scams that are frequently reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

¨       Tech Support Scams- Victims are scammed by a pop-up message purporting to come from Apple or Microsoft saying that their computer is infected or has other “issues.” It says that they must immediately call a phone number or click on a link in an effort to steal personal information or install malware to access sensitive data on your computer.

¨       Imposter Scams- Victims can be scammed under a number of false pretenses including imposters purporting to be government officials (e.g., IRS and Social Security) or relatives (e.g., a grandchild) in trouble. Fraudsters request that they wire money immediately to pay taxes or fees or to help someone out.

¨       Lottery Scams- Victims receive a letter with a fake check for a lottery, prize or sweepstakes and are told that they must respond immediately to pay “taxes” or a fee. Fraudsters ask for bank account information or a credit card number or ask victims to wire money. The fake check bounces, of course, and victims often get requests for even more money.

¨       Romance Scams- Victims are scammed by fraudsters who troll online dating sites. The scammers, who say they live far away, build a relationship with victims online and then say they need money for something. Fraudsters request a wire transfer of funds and coach victims what to say to not arouse the suspicion of bank officials.

In addition to the above scams, there are charity scams, investment scams, contractor scams, gift card scams, and more. Regardless of the type of scam, red flags of fraud include requests to wire money immediately, requests for payment in advance of services, and secrecy (“Don’t tell anyone”). Be careful out there. Anyone can become a fraud victim.

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