Fraudsters are always coming up with new scams to gain access to your personal information or finances. These scammers launch hundreds of thousands of scams a year using tactics that may include phone calls, text messages, email, U.S. mail and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
You may have heard the term “phishing,” where a fraudster attempts to steal sensitive personal information from you such as your user ID, passwords, Social Security number or financial account data. He will pretend to be an individual, a business, or a government agency and try to get you to provide sensitive information, perhaps by using an embedded link or attachment in an email. Clicking on these may also allow a fraudster to download harmful and malicious software (malware) onto your computer.
The initial contact could also come to you in a text message, direct phone call, or through social media. These are all forms of phishing. Many kinds of scams use the tactics mentioned above. Here are some examples:
Lottery scam: You receive notice that you have won a large sum of money, and you are instructed to pay a processing fee or taxes to claim your prize. The fraudster may attempt to get your bank account information or ask you to send a check to cover the fees or taxes, while asking you to keep your winnings confidential. The “winning check” turns out to be fake. The check you wrote to cover fees and taxes was real – and it’s already been cashed!
Grandparent scam: A grandmother receives a call from someone claiming to be her actual grandson, Jeffrey, who is in distress after being arrested in a foreign country. “Jeffrey” says he urgently needs money to post bail. He doesn’t sound exactly like Jeffrey, but it is late and he speaks as if he knows everyone in the family. Grandma is sure it must be Jeffrey. She follows his instructions to wire the money to his attorney and agrees to keep his arrest a secret. The money is gone, and the next day Grandma calls Jeffrey to see how he is doing. The real Jeffrey says he has been at home in bed with the flu all weekend. Now Grandma isn’t feeling so well because she just got scammed.
Taxes Due scam: You receive a call from a person who claims to be an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent and says that you owe back taxes. He is very aggressive and expects the payment to be made immediately over the phone. He warns that a Sheriff’s Deputy will arrive at your door unless the taxes are paid.
Technical Support scam: You receive an email (or phone call) notifying you that a “technical support agent” from Microsoft or Apple has detected serious issues with your computer. You respond to the email and are talked into giving the “agent” remote access to your computer. This allows them to download malware that causes your computer to display fake error messages. Next, they will request payment to fix the errors. Now you have paid for repairs that you didn’t need. Worse than that, the fraudster has your payment information.
Scams like these and many others are happening daily. We all need to be on high alert for these criminals, and there are measures you can take to protect yourself. Find out more in my next guest post on the Dollars and Sense blog – Six Ways to Protect Yourself from Scammers.
About the Author: Joe Robinson is an experienced senior executive with a deep background in the Financial Services and Manufacturing sectors. He is the CEO & Founder of High Peaks Solutions, HighPeaksSolutions.com, an IT and cybersecurity venture focused on helping clients develop real insights and enhance their security programs to prepare for the ever-growing number of cybersecurity threats. Information provided is not endorsed by Check `n Go and is for informational purposes only.