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 – Fake Inspectors or Salespeople
Whether this scam happens in person, via email, or via phone call, it’s rampant and on the rise. In this instance, someone contacts you and claims to work for a particularly well-known business or government office. The scammer needs access to something: your home, your credit card, or even just your account password. There are a wide variety of concocted stories about inspecting your water heater, upgrading your account, verifying your account…whatever.
If you are contacted by someone who wants access to something of yours but cannot show prior approval, it is a scam. Do not let individuals into your home, even if they claim to work for a utility or the local city; politely tell them you need to call the company yourself and verify it. If the scammer is from your bank or credit card company, again, hang up and verify it yourself using a published phone number (NOT one the scammer provides for you as his accomplice could be waiting on the other line).
#2 – DMV Renewal
Having to go to the DMV is so notoriously annoying that it’s become the stuff of comedy. Thankfully, many license and tag offices have caught up to the 21st century and now offer online renewals. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for scammers to figure out how to play off of that technology.
In this scam, you receive a postcard in the mail—just like you probably do every year—telling you it’s time to renew your tag or license. And since the DMV is all about convenience, they’ll offer you a website where you can handle the process online.
Here’s the catch: if you’re not on your state or local government’s approved website—and instead have gone to a website the scammers have setup—you’re about to give your credit card information to a thief.
Always check the website address before you input your credit card or other sensitive information. It should say HTTPS instead of HTTP if it’s a secure site, and any government website will end with “.gov” at the end instead of .com or .org.
#3 – Account Requires Attention
This one is rather old, but still works. Typically, it comes in the form of an email that tells you your account needs to be upgraded, your password changed, or some other fraudulent “security” measure. The email looks legitimate, and even has the company logo. This could seemingly come from your bank, your credit card provider, iTunes, even social media sites like Facebook or email providers like Yahoo. Scammers are essentially throwing darts when they send out these fake emails, hoping that you have one of these kinds of account.
This scam works so well because there are occasionally reasons why you must reactivate, renew, or make other changes to your account. But if you look at the email very carefully, you’ll notice some tell-tale signs that it’s a fake. Poor grammar, missing words, or a web address with extra words or a zero instead of a letter O are all sure signs. You can also tell who the sender is by going back to your inbox and hovering your mouse’s pointer over the sender’s name; even though it might say Facebook, the real address will pop up if you hover.
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.