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 on the rise.
Take a look at some of their more recent top scams or fraud attempts.
#1 – Free Hotel Stay
This scam is so strange because it’s partly legitimate. You really do get to stay in a nice hotel… for free!
Often as a marketing tactic through previous travel you’ve booked, you receive an email telling you that you’ve won a free hotel stay in a sought-after locale. The problem is how you plan to get there: when you call the agency to redeem your free accommodations, there’s a catch. You are required to book your airfare through that agency in order to claim your free stay.
Why are they giving you a free hotel stay? Because they’re going to more than make up for that cost by gouging you on the travel fees, sometimes charging you as much as double what you’d pay if you’d booked it yourself. Be mindful any time you’re offered something for nothing, and be on the watch for “too good to be true” deals.
#2 – Customer Appreciation Scam
Businesses rely on happy customers to keep their doors open and to spread the word. So customer appreciation isn’t an unheard of marketing tactic. But here’s what is unheard of: companies offering you a gift as their way of thanking you, then charging you for the gift.
If you ever receive a phone call or mailer that offers you something in exchange for payment of the “taxes and shipping,” or other bogus charges, that’s not a thank you! Ignore the mailer and end the call with the representative immediately; by paying these fees with your information, credit card, or bank account number, you could be giving your identity to a scammer.
#3 – Utilities Payment Scam
Fall weather is on its way, and those pleasantly crisp mornings when you step out to get the paper may be the reason why this very common scam is back on the rise.
When you receive a phone call from someone who claims to be from one of your utility companies, it’s understandable to be worried. When the caller tells you that your last payment wasn’t received and your service is about to be shut off, that’s when the panic can really set in. (You can see why this one’s popular in the fall and winter. After all, you were just threatened with having your heat cut off!)
Of course, the scammer has an easy remedy for you: payment over the phone. Then he’ll nab your personal identifiable information and your credit card information. But don’t worry, it’s very easy to protect yourself from this scam: when the caller tells you that payment hasn’t been received, simply say, “Oh, how strange! Let me call up my checking account online and verify that it went through.” There’s not much he can do after that, and he’ll likely hang up.
Never, ever make payment over the phone for a missed bill, whether it’s for your utilities, a credit card, a loan payment, or other account. Always verify the authenticity of the caller’s information for yourself by dialing your company directly and getting the approval to mail another check if there actually has been an error.
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.