Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, works with government agencies, related organizations and businesses, and industry experts to bring you the most up-to-date news about current threats to your personal data. One such organization is Scam Detector, whose top ten list of scams each week highlights some of the newest or most prevalent scams that affected consumers in the previous week. Here are their top three threats for last week:

#1 – Fake Waitress

If you’re out for dinner or drinks with a large group, especially at this time of year when holiday events are in full swing, beware of being targeted by someone posing as a member of the restaurant or club’s wait staff. This
individual will approach your group, state that there’s been some confusion in the bar tabs, and ask for your name to verify which tab your party is served under. When you get the bill at the end of your evening, there will be a lot of extra purchases on it, ones that you may not even notice if your group is large enough.

If there’s ever a statement made that there’s been a mix-up with the tab or your bill, offer to go speak to the manager about it. Often, that alone will be enough to keep a would-be fraudster from using your bill. Do not blithely hand over your information to someone who is not the wait staff member who’s been serving you.

Remember, too, that this is a busy time of year with a lot of activity on your credit cards. A number of identity thefts have occurred as the result of a waiter or waitress making a copy of a credit card when they take it to run the payment. Be watchful, at the holidays and throughout the year, to make sure you can see your credit card the whole time.

#2 – Facebook Copyright Protection Hoax

The ITRC posted a piece earlier in the month about a new item making its way around Facebook, claiming that users who don’t post a lengthy copyright statement on their walls run the risk of having their copyrights stolen by the social media giant. The statement, while harmless, not only has absolutely zero effect on your copyright or your ownership of your own material, it does send a message to would-be scammers that you don’t know very much about your own social media protections. Do not post the diatribe about protecting your content, as it’s completely false and could be telling criminals to target you for your possible gullibility. 

#3 – IQ Test Scam

Have you seen those ridiculously easy “tests” on Facebook or other social media, ones with questions like, “I bet you can’t name three US Presidents!” Who would think that’s a difficult question? But there are versions that lure you into clicking the link, which will require you to sign up to take their “test.”

Some of these “tests” are legitimate and just for fun, such as “Which Lord of the Rings character are you?” You answer a few questions, and based on your answers, you’re assigned a character and it brightens your day a little bit. The website earns ad revenue by having you click through the questions, but it’s basically harmless fun.

But tests that require you to register or input any personal information about yourself may be harvesting your data. Even something as simple as your phone number could be signing you up (in those pesky, lengthy terms of service) to receive daily text messages at YOUR cost; the charges will show up on your phone bill, so even if you didn’t have to enter a credit card number, you’re still being charged. Pay attention to the links you click, and be sure to never enter any of your personal information on a website that you don’t know or trust.

For the rest of this week’s Top Scams, check out the Scam Detector list or go to the ITRC website to look at the Current Scams & Alerts, and be sure to share this information to raise awareness of potential threats to your friends’ and family members’ personal data.



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