Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top experts in cybersecurity and fraud prevention to bring consumers the most reliable, recent information on crimes of this nature. One of these entities is Scam Detector, who collaborates with the Better Business Bureau to track both the newest forms of fraud, and the oldies but goodies that are making a comeback in larger scale numbers. Here are the top three threats from Scam Detector’s weekly list:
#1 – Health Insurance Scams
With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, a significant percentage of the population had the opportunity to access health insurance, many of them for the first time ever. But the confusion and controversy surrounding the initiative, coupled with the failure of the government’s information and registration website, may have left more people scratching their heads than purchasing coverage.
Unfortunately, scammers were quick to take advantage of the confusion and found an easy avenue for duping citizens out of their money through fake offers. Always remember a few basic principles when working with a government office or registration process: first, be sure to look for the .gov ending on the website, designating the email sender or the web address as a legitimate government site. Also, remember that the nickname “Obamacare” is just that… a nickname, derived from the name of the President who proposed the Act. No legitimate government communication will use the term.
#2 – Scratch Tickets
These mailer scams are making a comeback, all with the intention of tricking you into turning over your money. Often in the form of a promise of some kind of luxury getaway, a new car, or any other high-dollar item or offer, these scratch off tickets are not only (surprise!) guaranteed winners, but they come with a few hidden strings attached.
Typically, the would-be winner calls the number on the ticket to claim his prize, but by the time the fast-talking representative has gone through his quick-sell speech, the winner is the one who owes money. Usually the fees are labelled as taxes or for the shipping of the prize, but the reality is there is no prize and your money is gone.
#3 – Do Not Call Registry
This scam works because there are very few people who count being bothered by a telemarketer as one of the highlights of their days. The national Do Not Call registry provides a way for citizens to opt out of receiving sales calls on their cell phones or their home phones, and makes calling a number on that list for the purposes of selling illegal.
Unfortunately, scammers have found out that people are actually willing to pay a small fee to be placed on this list, and have been sending out official-looking emails asking for lots of personal information and a nominal administrative charge. Don’t fall for it, though; you’re handing over your information to a scammer, and that fee isn’t for real. The actual list is free to join and can be found online.
For the rest of the Scam Detector’s top ten scams of the week, visit their website or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts tab.