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. Scam Detector leads the way by publishing a top ten list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each week, ones that are either new or gaining in popularity. Take a look at some of their more recent top scams or fraud attempts.
#1 – Surprise Life Insurance Policy
There are quite a few ways that scammers have proven they are the lowest forms of criminals out there, but this scam is taking it to a whole new level. In this instance, someone who has just lost a loved one—typically a spouse, as it makes the scam more believable—is contacted by a representative from a life insurance company. They claim the deceased took out an outrageously high “secret” life insurance policy, naming the victim of this scam as the beneficiary.
Wouldn’t it be romantic to think that a man quietly paid his premiums all these years so that his loving wife would be protected from beyond the grave? It’s the stuff of legends, to be sure.
Unfortunately, it’s not true. The scammer got his victim’s name from the obituary section, and will proceed to tell her that there’s only one problem with the life insurance policy her husband took out. It will either have one final premium that must be paid, or will have administrative costs, or some other plausible reason why the widow must fork over money in order to collect what her husband prepared for her. Sadly, balking at paying the amount can lead to manipulative tactics, such as, “You don’t want to throw away all the money that your husband worked so hard to pay us over the years, do you?”
If you receive a call like this, the easy route is to provide the caller with a mailing address to send you all of the required paperwork on the policy. Offer to take the paperwork to your local probate judge or your attorney before you’ll pay the premium. If genuine paperwork does show up, you won’t have lost anything; if it doesn’t, you won’t have sent money to a thief.
#2 – Credit Score for Financing
It’s vital to stay on top of your credit reports and monitor them for suspicious activity, but it’s especially important that you know your actual credit score if you plan to finance any large purchases or take out a loan.
The reason for this isn’t pretty, but it is a reality. When you go to buy a car, for example, the dealership will run your credit report and will base their financing and interest rate on your score. If you don’t know your score, how do you know if you’re getting a good deal or not? What’s to stop the salesman from coming back with a much lower score and explaining that your rate (and therefore your payment and total purchase price) must go up based on that number?
With the availability of credit score reporting through sites like AnnualCreditReport.com, there’s no reason to be taken by surprise—or taken for a ride—when you finance a purchase.
#3 – Facebook Authentication
In this scam, you receive an email or private message with the Facebook logo that says your account is being suspended due to suspicious activity or faulty credentials. You’re provided with a link to click in order to verify your account, but whatever you do, don’t click it! It’s most likely a virus that will infect your computer.
Facebook doesn’t send out this kind of notification, and certainly not with an included link. If you ever receive any kind of message from an organization that tells you to verify your account, do not click. Instead, go to the actual website itself, log in using your own credentials, and make sure everything is okay.
For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit Scam-Detector.com 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.