Top Scams of the Week for May 5th, 2016

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

Take a look at some of their recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Apartment Rental Scams

Finding an affordable place to live in a nice neighborhood can be daunting, and there are a lot of websites that promise to help you find one that meets your needs. Unfortunately, the chances of falling for a scam are really high in this type of online finder service.

One report to the BBB this week was from someone who not only paid a fifty dollar “application fee,” but also turned over all of his sensitive personal identifiable information on the form. Now, not only does he have no apartment and has had no luck in reaching customer service about a refund, he’s also receiving scam attempts via text message and email.

Short of doing all your own legwork, it’s hard to avoid turning over your information for this kind of help. All you can do is make sure you’re working with a highly reputable company that has good reviews from genuine customers.

#2 – Tech Support Scam

This phishing attempt comes around quite frequently, and it works when the victims aren’t very familiar with computers and technology. A caller informs you that your computer has been infected, and then states that he can clean it for a fee. There are a couple of things the scammer may be after, depending on how sophisticated his own technology is.

If the scammer isn’t that tech savvy himself, he’s only after your personal information and your credit card (which you use to pay for the service). If he does have a little more computer skill, he’s after sensitive information stored in your computer, which he’ll most likely get by installing a virus and gleaning the data later.

Remember, tech companies do not hire people to sit around and watch their customers’ computers for any signs of trouble. If you’re having issues, you are the one who reaches out to tech support. The only exception would be if you’ve signed up already for a monitoring service, in which case you will recognize the company who’s contacting you and they will be able to verify your account.

#3 – Employment Scam

A new employment scam has made the rounds, one that offers the victim a job interview but requires fees in order to apply. This scam plays off the fact that the job seems completely genuine—a housekeeping job that candidates actually have to interview for in person, as opposed to suspicious work-from-home internet jobs—but there are hidden fees required before you can interview. In this scam, victims paid over $200 each to the interviewer for an OSHA card, and then never heard from the company again.

There are jobs that require you to fulfill obligations before you can begin employment, but be wary of postings that require you to pay before you can interview, and that require you to pay the company who’s posting the job. Yes, many companies require background checks or a drug test, for example, but even if that fee is passed on to the applicant, you typically pay it to the agency conducting the check, not to the potential employer.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

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