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 –Vehicle History Report Scam
This scam is making the rounds again, and the sad thing is it’s not technically a crime, at least not one that’s easy to prove. In this scam, which affects people who are selling a vehicle (typically through an online want ad, although it could be possible through other used car sales forums), a potential buyer for your car says all of the right things, even down to price, test driving, and paying in cash.
There’s just one catch: the person wants a vehicle history report, and is so kind as to mention several places where you can order one based on the vehicle’s VIN number. She even tells you the prices for those websites, and offers to deduct your cost from the purchase price.
The truth is she’s an affiliate, or someone who’s paid a commission by a website to direct traffic through to that site. She makes a percentage of the amount you paid for the vehicle report when you click the link she provides in the message to you.
Sadly, you end up with a vehicle report (which is admittedly useful, if you plan to sell a vehicle) and she gets the commission before suddenly changing her mind about buying your car. To avoid this scam, a) have a reputable vehicle report already in hand to share with the potential buyer, and b) list it in the posting for your car that you already have this report. It will save you the headache of jumping through a fake buyer’s hoops.
#2 – Cloned Debit Card Scam
This scam is a growing concern for investigators as its numbers have increased in the last month. By tampering with a store’s card reader, a thief can access the account information on your debit card and steal your PIN number as well. This scam is particularly prevalent at gas stations where customers pay at the pump, largely due to the fact that the card reader has to be tampered with for the thief to insert the thin film that will download your information. It’s easier to pull this off away from the prying eyes of the clerk, unless the clerk is in on it, of course.
It’s important to note that thieves tend to wait a significant amount of time between downloading your info and actually using it to take money out of your account. The reason is they don’t want their faulty readers to be found; if they took your money immediately, you’d be able to alert the police to which stores you shopped at in the past few days.
The best way to avoid this one is to change your PIN number frequently—which is bothersome, to be sure, but not difficult or costly—and to be watchful for any signs of tampering before inserting your card into the reader.
#3 – Online Lottery Scam
It’s hard to believe that people actually fall for this one, but they do. In the lottery scam, someone emails you or messages you on social media sites like Facebook to tell you that they’ve won the lottery, and they’re just randomly picking people to share it with. Another version at least claims to come from a non-profit agency that received a bulk donation and that their by-laws forbid them from accepting it, so they’re going to give it to you… for some unknown reason.
All they need in order to transfer the money is your name, your email address, your Facebook user name, your email password, and your social media password. It’s that simple!
If anyone ever contacts you out of the blue and asks for your personal information, IGNORE. It’s a scam. There is no prize money, and you’ve just handed your identity to a thief.
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.