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 Detectorleads 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 – Android Malware Attacks

Many phone users fail to remember one crucial piece of information about their smartphones and tablets: they’re actually minicomputers. They’re susceptible to malware and viruses just like the computer that sits on their desks. This is especially troubling because many users don’t think about installing antivirus protections on their phones, leaving the door wide open for a cybercriminal.

Even worse, with the abundance of social media messaging and text messaging, it’s all too easy for a scammer to send a malicious link to a recipient in the form of a bogus ad or offer, duping the user into clicking and installing the malware.

If you ever receive a message through your device with an offer, an unknown request to update your software, or any other link that you can’t verify, it’s important that you authenticate the content before you click. A simple online search with the details of the message should give you the information you need.

#2 – Halloween Shopping Scam

We just can’t enjoy a good holiday anymore without scammers ruining it somehow. And with Halloween being the second highest consumer spending holiday (after Christmas), it’s no wonder thieves have come out of the woodwork to make a quick buck.

With the abundance of online shopping and the ease of making a cheap and anonymous website, fake Halloween stores are a growing problem. Whether it’s full costumes, decorations, or any accessories you might need, a number of fake websites use stolen images from legitimate Halloween stores to produce what looks like a genuine company. They take your credit card information for the items you think you’re purchasing, but you never receive your goods.

To avoid these stores, be watchful for things on their websites that don’t look right, like strange wording or bad grammar. More importantly, never enter your personal or financial information on a website that doesn’t have an HTTPS designation at the front of its web address. The S indicates it’s a secure site, and that’s something scammers cannot easily fake.

#3 – IP Address Scam

You’re probably used to getting random scammy offers in your email inbox, ones that start with phrases like “Dear Blessed,” or “Attention User.” It’s easy to ignore those because they’re so fake looking. But what about ones that are harder to detect because they actually contain information about you, in this case, your internet service provider? It’s harder to ignore a promise of free rewards when the email specifically says, “Dear CableOne Customer.”

How did the scammer know who your internet company is? It’s in your IP address, an easily located piece of information. Your IP is your connection’s own personal “name,” so to speak, and it’s all over the internet, basically anywhere you visit, comment, or shop. Don’t worry, it’s not usually considered a highly sensitive piece of information, but it can be used to make a phishing email or message look a little more genuine. Remember to avoid scams that promise you something for nothing, something like cash or prizes for responding to an email or filling out a survey, even if they look like they came from a real business.

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.

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 Detectorleads 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 – Senior Emergency Scam

It’s every senior citizen’s nightmare: being trapped at home, injured, and unable to get help. That’s why there are some legitimate organizations that offer services for this exact scenario. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for scammers to piggyback off of a known company name with a similar-sounding name, then cold call senior citizens and rip them off.

When you’re considering ordering any product or service from a salesman who reaches out to you by phone, email, or an old-fashioned mailer, be sure to check the source and verify the offer completely before you sign up or provide any kind of payment. If you can’t verify their company, do not provide any personal details.

#2 – High-End Brand-Name Scam

Look around the streets of any major city and you’ll likely see vendors selling “knock off” items like purses or suitcases. Sometimes the imitation is a pretty good counterfeit to the untrained eye, but other times they’re selling an item that doesn’t even try to mask itself as the real deal. Unfortunately, there’s another realm of scammers involved in counterfeit clothes and items, and they’re the ones who blatantly tell you that these items are the real thing.

Typically, the scammer’s story is that he’s in town for a trade show, fashion show, or other industry-only event, and that he acquired these goods at the show directly from the companies. The only problem is he got too many and will have to pay hefty tariffs and import taxes to take them home. He’s willing to sell you these “Armani” suits or “Gucci” purses for half their value in order to avoid that problem.

But they’re fakes. They were made in China in a counterfeiting factory, and would have cost you twenty bucks from the street vendors who sell these items openly. After all, that’s probably where the scammer bought them!

#3 – Car Donation Scam

There are legitimate charities that can take your old car, sell it for its value, and use the money to further the good work that they do. You get rid of an older model vehicle, you get a tax receipt for the donation in return, and a non-profit group gets to continue its important mission. It’s a great thing all around.

Unfortunately, there are many scams out there that pretend to sell the vehicle and donate the proceeds. By law, a certain percentage of the sale price must go to the charity, but even then the company is allowed to keep some for administrative costs. In too many cases, they simply pocket all of it and you didn’t really give your car to a charity. You’re actually holding a bogus tax receipt on top of it.

Whether it’s donating your car, your money, your time, or any other way that you invest of yourself in a charity, be sure to do your homework and verify that it’s a legitimately recognized non-profit that meets the government’s guidelines.

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.

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 Detectorleads 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 – Facebook Privacy Hoax

Facebook is back in the Top Scams this week, this time for the privacy notice hoax. You’ve probably already seen a really weird paragraph posted to some of your friends’ walls that starts out, “Better safe than sorry, this was already reported on Channel 13 news…” Some jokester is once again convincing people that they must post a privacy notice on their Facebook walls to prevent Facebook from using, selling, or gathering their photos or posts.

It’s not true. If you’d actually read those terms of service that you agreed to when you signed up for a Facebook account (you did read all those, right?), you would know exactly what can happen to your content once you post it on social media. It’s out there for anyone to grab, whether you want them to or not. It’s important to also remember the difference between a scam and a hoax, as the second item in this week’s Top Scams illustrates perfectly…

#2 – Facebook Gold Membership Hoax/Scam

Why would anyone bother to start an online hoax like the privacy hoax? There was no money involved and no glory for the guy who thought it up, so what’s the point? Probably it’s just for fun, a game in which he gets to laugh as thousands of people fall victim to believing their content isn’t “safe” anymore. The more people who are gullible enough to share it, the funnier it becomes.

Scams, on the other hand, are not funny… not that hoaxes like this are all that amusing. In a scam like the Gold Membership scam, users are actually told that their accounts will no longer be set to “private” on Facebook unless they pay for a premium membership. Failure to pay will result in all of your content, photos, and posts being immediately made public.

This one isn’t true either, and most of the versions making the rounds don’t actually connect to a link to submit your payment. Once again, it’s just a stupid hoax on the part of the guys who started it. It becomes a scam, however, once someone actually begins to target people for money and tries to collect that fee. Of course, sharing the hoax post can indicate to scammers which social media users are gullible enough to fall for it; that could lead them to message users directly with a link to submit payment. Be aware that Facebook is a free service, and that the company’s own FAQ page states it will never charge the public to use it. Any post you see to the contrary simply isn’t true.

#3 – Medical Coverage Scam

Seniors are once again being hit hard with a scam that targets one of their most vulnerable fears: health coverage. Once again, scammers are coming after the elderly with fake prescription drug coverage, discount plans, and even attempts to get their identifying information by claiming they’re sending out new cards and need to verify the patient’s info.

Do not give out any personal information to someone who contacts you by phone. Whether it’s to verify your account, submit a payment that they claim your coverage provider never received, take payment for a bill that they claim is due, or any other effort to get at your identity or your finances, do not handle it over the phone. All unsolicited transactions should be handled via mail or through a phone call that you initiate to your provider using a phone number you have for the company.

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.

There’s another Facebook hoax going around, one that insists you must now pay a fee if you want to keep your account private on the popular social media website. Luckily, according to the original hoax post, you can skirt the fee by posting on your wall something to the effect that you do not give Facebook permission to use your content, you own the copyright to all your photos, etc.

It’s a hoax. Utterly, completely, entirely a hoax. Harmless, but still pointless. But if that’s the case, what does someone stand to gain from starting it in the first place? First, you have to look for the differences in a hoax and a scam. In a scam, someone is trying to get something from you—usually money or your personal identifiable information—while a hoax, is just a silly joke or an attempt to spread a negative rumor about a company or entity. For all we know, the originator of the latest in a long line of similar hoaxes did it just to see if he could get people to share it. A more nefarious reason might be to see which social media users are gullible enough to fall for such a ridiculous concept, and then attempt to target those individuals with actual fee-based scams.

Sadly, hoaxes like this one go viral because they’re too easy to share across a vast network of connections and because they play up our emotions. Who enjoys the thought of waking up one day and finding out that Facebook changed the setting on all of your children’s pictures to Public? Or the thought that the US government leaves military dogs behind to fend for themselves after troops return home to the States (a hoax that has even gotten national attention in the op-ed sections of major newspapers… it’s not true at all, but that doesn’t stop people from sharing it on Facebook)?

It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of both hoaxes and scams. Sharing a hoax really only garners you some embarrassment but can change other users’ perceptions of you. The last thing you want is for your boss to find your ludicrous post that states, “In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention).” Hint: there’s no such thing as the Berner Convention, and you’d know exactly what Facebook can do with your content if you’d actually read the Terms of Service when you signed up.

As for scams, though, it’s vital that you recognize the signs of a scam in order to protect yourself from financial harm or identity theft. In scams, you’re often offered something outrageous for free and then led to another location to pay a fee, some taxes, shipping and handling, or other strange cost. Any offer that expects you to submit a lot of very sensitive information about yourself is also likely to be a scam. Remember to keep you guard up and stay alert to the tactics that thieves and jokesters use in order to avoid embarrassment or actual harm.

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 Detectorleads 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.

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 Detectorleads 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 – Postal Storage Fee

You receive an email that claims to be from the post office, informing you that the package you never came by to pick up has been waiting for you and that you now owe a storage fee for failing to retrieve it. The email goes on to ask you to verify your identity before you can claim your “mystery” package, and requests all types of highly sensitive personal data. You don’t even remember receiving a notice about a package, but are willing to comply by not only making payment through the link they provided but also handing over your personal identifiable information.

Remember that the Postal Service will never email you and ask for money or sensitive information. If you did, in fact, owe money to a government agency, you’ll receive a letter in the mail. After all, mailing letters is what they do!

#2 – Bank Draft Scam

With the power of the internet, more and more people are able to sell their own high-value items like cars or homes to a broader audience of potential buyers. That means a man halfway across the country could genuinely want to buy your car.

Savvy consumers are sure to demand payment in secured ways, such as a cashier’s check or bank draft, but counterfeit cashier’s checks make it all too easy for the scammer to make off with your car while leaving you holding a bogus piece of paper. If you’re selling a high-dollar item, consider going to the bank with the buyer to verify the authenticity of the cashier’s check, especially if he offers another popular version of this scam in which he presents a cashier’s check for more than the amount and asks you to provide cash back.

#3 – Repair Your Credit Scam

If you’re like the millions of Americans who have a little too much debt hanging over them, you might be tempted to fall for a scam that claims to “fix your credit” for a fee. Online pop up ads for this service are abundant, but all they can do for you is take your money and offer you nothing in return.

Don’t be misled, though; there are legitimate credit counseling services—often provided through government programs and therefore free for consumers—that can set up a system for you to correct your credit. This system will include consolidating debt, instructing you on how to pay off high interest accounts first, and possibly even working with your creditors to lower your interest rate. But anyone who claims to “erase” your bad credit or create a new credit score for you is a scammer.

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.

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 Detectorleads 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 – Gas Pump Swap

As if you already didn’t have enough to worry about at the gas pump, this new scam has taken thieves’ imaginations to a whole new level. In this one, you swipe your credit card—after verifying that the card reader hasn’t been tampered with and a skimming film installed, of course—and end up paying to fill up the thief’s car.

Before you arrive at the pump, the thief actually switches the nozzles so that a pump from his side is now in position facing your car, and your gas nozzle is in place in his car’s gas tank. When you swipe your credit card and begin fueling, you’re actually filling up his car!

There are many, many reasons to be mindful of your surroundings at a gas station, and this is just the latest one.

#2 – iPhone 7 Testers

This scam can take on many, many different forms, but it still amounts to a something-for-nothing scam. This one involves pop-up or sidebar ads seeking internet users to test the new iPhone 7. After clicking the ad and filling out a brief survey, you’re directed to a screen that congratulates you for being selected to test the new device.

On that screen, you just have to fill out the registration form for them to mail you the phone. You’ll be asked to provide a credit card number to cover the cost of shipping, and of course they’ll need some personal identifying information to go with it.

This is a complete scam, run by identity thieves who will sell your information or use it themselves. Do you really believe that the Apple corporation—a worldwide tech giant who has more cash on hand in reserve than the US government—needs to solicit strangers on the internet to test out its products? No, they don’t, but thieves are hoping your desire for a brand-new iPhone will make you overlook that.

#3 – Tuition Scams

This is the time of year when scammers play off your back-to-school mindset. In two different variations of the scam, your tuition (or that of your child) is at stake.

In the first version, a caller claiming to be from the school’s registrar’s office contacts you after conducting a simple records search or a Facebook search for the name of your or your child’s school. By stating that your last tuition payment didn’t go through or that your financial aid/scholarship was cancelled, the caller tricks you into thinking you’re about to lose your spot for a school year that starts in only a matter of days. Due to this urgency, you’re told to pay over the phone by credit, via a prepaid Visa card, or wire transfer.

The other version works in reverse: you or your child are suddenly eligible for financial aid, grants, or scholarships, and you must pay an administrative registration fee to submit your instant over-the-phone application.

Remember, this is not how financial aid works. If your aid has been cancelled or you were suddenly found to be ineligible, you will be provided with that information via a letter sent through the postal service. If you are found to be eligible for aid you didn’t know about, again, you will receive a mailed letter with the application and instructions. Anything else smells of a scam and should be treated as such.

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.

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 Detectorleads 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 –Vehicle History Report Scam

This scam is making the rounds again, and the sad thing is it’s not technically a crime, at least not one that’s easy to prove. In this scam, which affects people who are selling a vehicle (typically through an online want ad, although it could be possible through other used car sales forums), a potential buyer for your car says all of the right things, even down to price, test driving, and paying in cash.

There’s just one catch: the person wants a vehicle history report, and is so kind as to mention several places where you can order one based on the vehicle’s VIN number. She even tells you the prices for those websites, and offers to deduct your cost from the purchase price.

The truth is she’s an affiliate, or someone who’s paid a commission by a website to direct traffic through to that site. She makes a percentage of the amount you paid for the vehicle report when you click the link she provides in the message to you.

Sadly, you end up with a vehicle report (which is admittedly useful, if you plan to sell a vehicle) and she gets the commission before suddenly changing her mind about buying your car. To avoid this scam, a) have a reputable vehicle report already in hand to share with the potential buyer, and b) list it in the posting for your car that you already have this report. It will save you the headache of jumping through a fake buyer’s hoops.

#2 – Cloned Debit Card Scam

This scam is a growing concern for investigators as its numbers have increased in the last month. By tampering with a store’s card reader, a thief can access the account information on your debit card and steal your PIN number as well. This scam is particularly prevalent at gas stations where customers pay at the pump, largely due to the fact that the card reader has to be tampered with for the thief to insert the thin film that will download your information. It’s easier to pull this off away from the prying eyes of the clerk, unless the clerk is in on it, of course.

It’s important to note that thieves tend to wait a significant amount of time between downloading your info and actually using it to take money out of your account. The reason is they don’t want their faulty readers to be found; if they took your money immediately, you’d be able to alert the police to which stores you shopped at in the past few days.

The best way to avoid this one is to change your PIN number frequently—which is bothersome, to be sure, but not difficult or costly—and to be watchful for any signs of tampering before inserting your card into the reader.

#3 – Online Lottery Scam

It’s hard to believe that people actually fall for this one, but they do. In the lottery scam, someone emails you or messages you on social media sites like Facebook to tell you that they’ve won the lottery, and they’re just randomly picking people to share it with. Another version at least claims to come from a non-profit agency that received a bulk donation and that their by-laws forbid them from accepting it, so they’re going to give it to you… for some unknown reason.

All they need in order to transfer the money is your name, your email address, your Facebook user name, your email password, and your social media password. It’s that simple!

If anyone ever contacts you out of the blue and asks for your personal information, IGNORE. It’s a scam. There is no prize money, and you’ve just handed your identity to a thief.

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.

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 Detectorleads 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 – Surprise Life Insurance Policy

There are quite a few ways that scammers have proven they are the lowest forms of criminals out there, but this scam is taking it to a whole new level. In this instance, someone who has just lost a loved one—typically a spouse, as it makes the scam more believable—is contacted by a representative from a life insurance company. They claim the deceased took out an outrageously high “secret” life insurance policy, naming the victim of this scam as the beneficiary.

Wouldn’t it be romantic to think that a man quietly paid his premiums all these years so that his loving wife would be protected from beyond the grave? It’s the stuff of legends, to be sure.

Unfortunately, it’s not true. The scammer got his victim’s name from the obituary section, and will proceed to tell her that there’s only one problem with the life insurance policy her husband took out. It will either have one final premium that must be paid, or will have administrative costs, or some other plausible reason why the widow must fork over money in order to collect what her husband prepared for her. Sadly, balking at paying the amount can lead to manipulative tactics, such as, “You don’t want to throw away all the money that your husband worked so hard to pay us over the years, do you?”

If you receive a call like this, the easy route is to provide the caller with a mailing address to send you all of the required paperwork on the policy. Offer to take the paperwork to your local probate judge or your attorney before you’ll pay the premium. If genuine paperwork does show up, you won’t have lost anything; if it doesn’t, you won’t have sent money to a thief.

#2 – Credit Score for Financing

It’s vital to stay on top of your credit reports and monitor them for suspicious activity, but it’s especially important that you know your actual credit score if you plan to finance any large purchases or take out a loan.

The reason for this isn’t pretty, but it is a reality. When you go to buy a car, for example, the dealership will run your credit report and will base their financing and interest rate on your score. If you don’t know your score, how do you know if you’re getting a good deal or not? What’s to stop the salesman from coming back with a much lower score and explaining that your rate (and therefore your payment and total purchase price) must go up based on that number?

With the availability of credit score reporting through sites like AnnualCreditReport.com, there’s no reason to be taken by surprise—or taken for a ride—when you finance a purchase.

#3 – Facebook Authentication

In this scam, you receive an email or private message with the Facebook logo that says your account is being suspended due to suspicious activity or faulty credentials. You’re provided with a link to click in order to verify your account, but whatever you do, don’t click it! It’s most likely a virus that will infect your computer.

Facebook doesn’t send out this kind of notification, and certainly not with an included link. If you ever receive any kind of message from an organization that tells you to verify your account, do not click. Instead, go to the actual website itself, log in using your own credentials, and make sure everything is okay.

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.

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 Detectorleads 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 – Fake Inspectors or Salespeople

Whether this scam happens in person, via email, or via phone call, it’s rampant and on the rise. In this instance, someone contacts you and claims to work for a particularly well-known business or government office. The scammer needs access to something: your home, your credit card, or even just your account password. There are a wide variety of concocted stories about inspecting your water heater, upgrading your account, verifying your account…whatever.

If you are contacted by someone who wants access to something of yours but cannot show prior approval, it is a scam. Do not let individuals into your home, even if they claim to work for a utility or the local city; politely tell them you need to call the company yourself and verify it. If the scammer is from your bank or credit card company, again, hang up and verify it yourself using a published phone number (NOT one the scammer provides for you as his accomplice could be waiting on the other line).

#2 – DMV Renewal

Having to go to the DMV is so notoriously annoying that it’s become the stuff of comedy. Thankfully, many license and tag offices have caught up to the 21st century and now offer online renewals. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for scammers to figure out how to play off of that technology.

In this scam, you receive a postcard in the mail—just like you probably do every year—telling you it’s time to renew your tag or license. And since the DMV is all about convenience, they’ll offer you a website where you can handle the process online.

Here’s the catch: if you’re not on your state or local government’s approved website—and instead have gone to a website the scammers have setup—you’re about to give your credit card information to a thief.

Always check the website address before you input your credit card or other sensitive information. It should say HTTPS instead of HTTP if it’s a secure site, and any government website will end with “.gov” at the end instead of .com or .org.

#3 – Account Requires Attention

This one is rather old, but still works. Typically, it comes in the form of an email that tells you your account needs to be upgraded, your password changed, or some other fraudulent “security” measure. The email looks legitimate, and even has the company logo. This could seemingly come from your bank, your credit card provider, iTunes, even social media sites like Facebook or email providers like Yahoo. Scammers are essentially throwing darts when they send out these fake emails, hoping that you have one of these kinds of account.

This scam works so well because there are occasionally reasons why you must reactivate, renew, or make other changes to your account. But if you look at the email very carefully, you’ll notice some tell-tale signs that it’s a fake. Poor grammar, missing words, or a web address with extra words or a zero instead of a letter O are all sure signs. You can also tell who the sender is by going back to your inbox and hovering your mouse’s pointer over the sender’s name; even though it might say Facebook, the real address will pop up if you hover.

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.