Top Scams of the Week for March 9, 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 – Charity Scams

There should be a special punishment for scammers who steal your money while pretending that it will go to charity, but that’s exactly what one victim reported to the BBB this week. A young woman came through the neighborhood selling magazines door-to-door, supposedly to raise funds for charity. An additional layer of charitable giving was even offered, as you could opt to order a subscription and have it sent to a children’s hospital.

While there were a few shady aspects to the visit, the victim ultimately gave the saleswoman a check for the full subscription amount. Only after thinking about it later and doing some homework online did the victim find all of the complaints against this supposed charity.

It’s sad that you have to guard your donations carefully in order to protect them from a thief, but that is the reality of it. In order to be sure that your hard-earned money actually goes to help its intended recipients, only make your contributions to recognized, approved charities who can provide you with proper documentation.

#2 – Utility Scam

There are a wide variety of utility scams out there, but they all hinge on you believing the phone call or notice you received originated from a necessary resource. If you’re under the impression that your electricity, water, or phone service will be shut off, you’re more likely to ignore the warning signs and comply with their requests.

One of the many forms that a utility scam can take is to convince you that you’ve failed to pay an old bill or an old late fee. Of course, the scammer would love for you to make a payment over the phone so he can steal your credit card, but the goal can also be to get your Social Security number (under the pretense of “verifying” your account) or your bank account number (by pretending to debit the late payment electronically).

Remember, this all comes down to ignoring a stranger’s request for information in order to protect your data. Never make a payment for any reason to someone who calls you out of the blue, and never share your personal information with a caller.

#3 – Facebook Response Scam

This is a more recent innovation in online marketing since even scammers have to market themselves online. You might have seen these in the comments’ sections of web articles or as comments on your friends’ Facebook posts. These posts promise everything from guaranteed loans to work-at-home opportunities to diet solutions. There’s only one actual guarantee, though: it’s a scam.

If you’re actually looking for financial loans or weight loss support, a Facebook friend could certainly steer you in the right direction. But a random spammy comment from a complete stranger probably isn’t going to yield good results. Only click on trusted links and follow sound advice from known sources.

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.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

 

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