Avoid Becoming a Victim of Today’s Biggest Scams
Protecting your financial data and personal information is critical, especially when massive data breaches and identity theft cases seem to occur every week. Becoming aware of the scams being used by thieves can help people avoid falling victim to these deceptive methods. Since this is National Consumer Protection Week (March 1-7), it’s a perfect time to bring these scams to light.
Approximately 12% of Americans 18 years of age or older have been the victims of identity theft within the last 12 months, according to a recent AARP report. In addition, 41% have been notified by a company they have done business with that their information has been subjected to a security breach in the past year.
So many scams can be avoided using common sense. Never give out information about your credit card over the phone unless you initiate the call. Never provide your personal information (address, date-of-birth, banking information, ID numbers) to people you do not know. Do not click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
Consumers should also create strong passwords for their accounts. 45% of those surveyed admitted to using the same password for more than one online account, and 49% have not changed their password in the last six months.
The Better Business Bureau recently analyzed the Top Ten Scams of 2014. Consumers should be aware of these in order to avoid becoming a victim:
#10 Sweepstakes Scam: You have won a contest and you can claim your prize by paying some fees or taxes in advance.
#9 Click Bait Scam: These emails or links have you unintentionally download malware on to your computer by enticing you with sensational stories about celebrities, fake news or real events.
#8 Robocall Scam: “Rachel from Cardholder Services” says she can lower your credit card interest rates. You simply have to give her your credit card number.
#7 Government Grant Scam: You’ve been awarded a government grant for a significant amount of money. It could possibly mention a program you’ve heard about in the news. All you have to do to collect your grant is pay some fees by wire transfer or prepaid debit card.
#6 Emergency Scam: You get a call or email saying your grandchild was injured, robbed or arrested while traveling overseas and needs money as soon as possible.
#5 Medical Alert Scam: A company calls claiming a family member has ordered a medical alert device for you in case you have an emergency. They take your credit card or banking information but you never receive anything.
#4 Copycat Website Scam: You get an email, text message or social media post about a sale on an item. You click through and it looks just like a popular retailer’s site. But when you order, you either get a counterfeit item or nothing at all. In addition, they have your credit card number.
#3 “Are You Calling Yourself?” Scam: The thieves make a call look like it’s coming from your own Caller ID, and your curiosity gets you to pick up the phone or return the call.
#2 Tech Support Scam: You get a call or a pop-up on your computer about a problem on your computer. The thieves claim to be from Microsoft, Norton or Apple. They say if you give “tech support” access to your hard drive, they can fix the problem. Instead, they install malware on your computer and start stealing your personal information.
#1 Arrest Scam: You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be someone from the IRS. You have overdue taxes or you have missed jury duty, but you can avoid the fines or being arrested by sending money via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.