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 – Property Tax Scam
This one has gained traction lately because it’s so easy to pull off. Scammers dial random phone numbers in a given location, then claim that the homeowner hasn’t paid his property taxes. With threats of having the home seized and the police coming to place the homeowner under arrest, it’s easy to see why some people fall for it. They willingly turn over their personal data or even make a payment with their credit cards, all while being scammed.
Remember a few key rules for how the government reaches out to citizens to resolve matters like this one. First, you will never be contacted by phone or email, only by a mailed letter so that you have a paper record of the issue. Next, no legitimate contact will call you to tell you the police are coming to arrest you. That’s simply not how it works.
#2 – Fake Website Scam
This scam, seen recently to involve the popular WhatsApp platform, can apply to almost any major company with an easily recognized logo. It’s happened with major credit card companies, large banks, PayPal, and many more.
In this one, scammers create a fake email or website that looks for all intents and purposes like a commonly used website. Again, this one recently cropped up with the instant messaging app site WhatsApp, which has more than 700 million registered users. By using the WhatsApp name in the web address and the company’s logo on the website itself, unsuspecting users are duped into “verifying” their sensitive information and turning it over to the scammers.
To avoid this one, ask yourself before entering any information, “Why are they asking for this data? THEY contacted ME!” Then keep your information from falling into the wrong hands.
#3 – Facebook Notification Scam
Much like the scam mentioned above, this one sends out a phishing email that pretends to come from Facebook. Its message might vary, and can include threats to delete all your contacts, to remove all your posts, to delete your account altogether, or more. When you click the supplied link in the email, though, you’re taken to a sleazy website that often sells pornography, illegal medications, or other contraband.
First, if you were somehow lured into making a purchase on the site, your items will never arrive and the scammers have your credit card info. But even if you’re not interested in black market Viagra, just clicking the link can download a virus or other malicious software to your computer.
If you ever receive an email stating that something is wrong with any type of account, don’t click the link! Go directly to your account on your own (such as going to Facebook.com and logging in) and verify that everything is fine.
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.