Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top experts and organizations in the cybersecurity industry to bring you up-to-date news on the various threats that are making the rounds. One of those organizations, Scam-Detector, works with the Better Business Bureau to track the newest types of scams and fraud. Here are the top three scams from their efforts for the past week:
#1 – Civil or Criminal Proceedings against You
No one wants to go to jail. And it can be pretty scary when you get a phone call, voice mail, or email telling you that civil or even criminal charges have been filed against you. Some of these recordings or contacts may have your
name, driver’s license number, birthdate, or even your Social Security number, adding to the appearance that they’re for real.
They’re not. They’re just another attempt to get your money by scammers who’ve already managed to get your information (often by buying blocks of consumer info after a major data breach). If you stick it out until the end of the conversation, you’ll eventually hear the sales pitch, where the agent on the phone offers to resolve the matter or drop the charges after you’ve paid their fee.
No legal, legitimate civil or criminal proceedings will start with a phone call…ever. Any phone or email contact informing you that you’re in trouble is not real and you are legally allowed to ignore it. For good measure, you can take the information to your local police department for verification if it puts you at ease.
#2 – Amazon Login Scam
This one is almost too easy…for the scammers, that is. In the olden days of email phishing attempts, scammers would send out thousands of emails a day to consumers, telling them that their bank account info or their credit card had been compromised. The recipients of the email would be directed to click the link to update their information. If you didn’t have an account with that bank or credit card, it was all too easy to laugh at the scam attempt and happily ignore the email.
But scammers have gotten savvier. First they went after your info by disguising themselves as PayPal. Lots of people use PayPal, so there was a better chance of duping people. But there’s a new fraud attempt going around, and it’s like “phishing” in a barrel: Amazon.
Everyone uses Amazon, right? Reports from the company indicate that most consumers have used the retailers’ website; there’s a far greater chance that recipients of these fraudulent emails actually do have Amazon accounts, and that they store their credit card information in the system. Getting an email that looks to be from Amazon that tells you to click the link and update your info due to a possible hacking seems all too real.
It’s not. But if you do receive such an email, delete it immediately and head over to your Amazon account on your own. You can even change your password if you like, but you can sift through your recent orders, digital orders, or open orders with the click of a mouse and see if anyone has used your account.
#3 – Instagram Offers
We just can’t have nice things, can we? Scammers make it seem that way sometimes, and Instagram is their newest victim. Instagram users have been bombarded with a wide variety of phishing attempts through the photo sharing social media site, everything from discount offers from major brand-name companies to scholarship offers. The only sure-fire way to protect yourself from being a victim is to remember that nothing is ever offered for free unless you take direct action first. If you’re offered a scholarship, YOU must do the work of looking for it and applying, as no one is going to contact you to offer it to you; the same is true for brand-name discounts online…YOU have to go to the retailers’ websites or have signed up for email notifications or connected with them through social media. These offers do not fall in your lap every time you go online.
For the rest of Scam Detector’s top ten list of threats this week, visit their website or go to the ITRC Current Scams & Alerts tab.