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 – Gas Pump Swap
As if you already didn’t have enough to worry about at the gas pump, this new scam has taken thieves’ imaginations to a whole new level. In this one, you swipe your credit card—after verifying that the card reader hasn’t been tampered with and a skimming film installed, of course—and end up paying to fill up the thief’s car.
Before you arrive at the pump, the thief actually switches the nozzles so that a pump from his side is now in position facing your car, and your gas nozzle is in place in his car’s gas tank. When you swipe your credit card and begin fueling, you’re actually filling up his car!
There are many, many reasons to be mindful of your surroundings at a gas station, and this is just the latest one.
#2 – iPhone 7 Testers
This scam can take on many, many different forms, but it still amounts to a something-for-nothing scam. This one involves pop-up or sidebar ads seeking internet users to test the new iPhone 7. After clicking the ad and filling out a brief survey, you’re directed to a screen that congratulates you for being selected to test the new device.
On that screen, you just have to fill out the registration form for them to mail you the phone. You’ll be asked to provide a credit card number to cover the cost of shipping, and of course they’ll need some personal identifying information to go with it.
This is a complete scam, run by identity thieves who will sell your information or use it themselves. Do you really believe that the Apple corporation—a worldwide tech giant who has more cash on hand in reserve than the US government—needs to solicit strangers on the internet to test out its products? No, they don’t, but thieves are hoping your desire for a brand-new iPhone will make you overlook that.
#3 – Tuition Scams
This is the time of year when scammers play off your back-to-school mindset. In two different variations of the scam, your tuition (or that of your child) is at stake.
In the first version, a caller claiming to be from the school’s registrar’s office contacts you after conducting a simple records search or a Facebook search for the name of your or your child’s school. By stating that your last tuition payment didn’t go through or that your financial aid/scholarship was cancelled, the caller tricks you into thinking you’re about to lose your spot for a school year that starts in only a matter of days. Due to this urgency, you’re told to pay over the phone by credit, via a prepaid Visa card, or wire transfer.
The other version works in reverse: you or your child are suddenly eligible for financial aid, grants, or scholarships, and you must pay an administrative registration fee to submit your instant over-the-phone application.
Remember, this is not how financial aid works. If your aid has been cancelled or you were suddenly found to be ineligible, you will be provided with that information via a letter sent through the postal service. If you are found to be eligible for aid you didn’t know about, again, you will receive a mailed letter with the application and instructions. Anything else smells of a scam and should be treated as such.
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.