Top Scams of the Week for February 16, 2016
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. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.
It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.
#1 – Family Imprisonment Scam
The old Nigerian prince emails used to be almost humorous, but due to more awareness of the issue, scammers have had to switch tactics. Now, many of the phishing emails and phone calls are anything but funny. In one recently reported scam that cost a victim almost $7,000, it was a grandson who was being held in a foreign prison. He needed bail money wired to the “police” immediately.
There’s an interesting twist on this specific report, though. The couple fell for it and wired money via Walmart Money Gram. The next day, they received a phone call from someone who claimed to be with Walmart, informing them that this was a scam and they were due a refund. All they had to do in order to receive the refund was…you guessed it…send more money in order to “verify” the account. They just got scammed twice.
NEVER wire money to anyone who claims to be holding your family member hostage. Always verify your loved one’s location, and call the police if there’s actually a reason to believe someone is in danger.
#2 – BBB Scam
What better way to trick you into handing over your money or your identity than to pretend to be the very people who track these kinds of scams? One victim contacted the Better Business Bureau after receiving a voicemail… claiming to be from the Better Business Bureau!
How are you supposed to protect yourself from scammers who appear to work for the “good guys?” It actually happens all the time. Imposter scams include every possible scenario: law enforcement, the IRS, legal defense teams, schools, hospitals, and yes, even the BBB. If you receive a cold call from someone who claims that you owe money, that you are in some kind of danger (physical or legal), or that you are in any way responsible for making a payment of some kind, hang up. Contact the company or agency they claim to work for directly using a verified phone number (NOT one that the caller provided, as that could lead right back to the scammers) and find out what the issue is for yourself. NEVER give them any payment information or personal data.
#3 – Yellow Pages Scam
It’s important to understand that this particular scam happened to involve a known entity, the Yellow Pages. However, it could apply to any company name at all, and can victimize anyone.
Several reports have come in from small businesses who received a fax that appeared to be an update request for the new phone book. Instead, after sending back their current information, the ugly letters and phone calls began; the sender claimed the original document was actually an order form and that the victim now owes a lot of money. Failure to immediately comply has resulted in victims being harassed and even threatened.
Again, this scam has taken on the guise of the Yellow Pages, and there’s no reason to think the legitimate company is involved in this. It can also happen in exactly the same way, to any kind of victim and with any other company name on it. Always know what you’re signing and submitting, and keep copies of it as proof that you did not place an order or enter into an agreement. If a caller continues to harass you or threaten you with legal action, report the matter to law enforcement.
For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site 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.