When you are on the internet in this day in age, you always have to be cautious about whether games and deals are legitimate fun or a social media hoax. There is no shortage of ways to earn money, win prizes or benefit from free goods online. Contests, giveaways and company discounts are all over, and the chance to score some savings can be very enticing. Sometimes it takes nothing more than “liking and sharing” a page. Other times, it requires you to sign up with your identifying information. Unfortunately, scammers know that as well.

From social media hoaxes and fake contests to outright phishing attempts that steal your information, there is no end to the ways that criminals will try to take advantage of you. Adopting a suspicious air of caution is important whenever you sign up for something, enter a game or contest or any other type of activity that exposes your information.

For example, a new contest has made serious waves online, mostly for its originality but also for its red flags. A group known as MSCHF has had a lot of fun—and shared that fun with a vast community of online users—with innovative and inventive offerings. Their newest project, however—Password of the Day—is no exception.

The way it works is you sign up with your phone number to receive text messages from the company. Every day, users can request the “password of the day.” The reply will include the login credentials for some kind of online account. It might be an Amazon account equipped with Prime, a PayPal account with a $1,000 balance in it, a Disney+ account or any other kind of account. Not knowing is part of the game, after all. The trick is the first person to find the online account that those credentials go to gets to keep it.

Fun, right? Except for some media coverage of this “internet treasure hunt” that failed to point out where exactly these login credentials came from. That left people to speculate as to whether these credentials had been stolen or bought from the Dark Web. Is this the latest social media hoax?

Luckily, no. Upon further research about this game, showed that the creators had established all of the accounts themselves to give away. That might not have been clear at the onset to some users since the game was very mysterious. However, it is a legitimate game that does not steal from others.

It is hard to find fault with the people who were concerned about a social media hoax, though. After all, the internet is filled with too-good-to-be-true offers, fake coupons that require you to turn over your personal data and surveys that go on for page after page and result in a flood of spam emails. Furthermore, this game requires you to submit your cellphone number—in order to receive the text messages—and that can make people stop and think, too.

This should serve as a warning to all internet users to be careful of “crazy” deals and offers. More importantly, do your own homework before signing up for or rejecting a company. Simple Google searches can tell you a lot about whether or not it is a social media hoax. If you are still unsure, contact the company directly or err on the side of caution. In the meantime, enjoy the game when a company has proven itself to be trustworthy!

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, you can call the Identity Theft Resource Center toll free at 888.400.5530 to speak with one of our advisors or live chat with an advisor on our website. They will help you create an action plan for your case while directing you on the next steps you need to take.

For on-the-go identity assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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In 2019, romance scams led to losses of over $200 million. While these scams may seem easy to avoid, scammers go out of their way to take advantage of you.

All internet scams have the potential to be cruel. After all, they are designed to trick you into handing over your money, your identity or both. However, perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching forms of online scam is the romance scam. Not only does the victim lose their money—and even potentially end up in jail—but they lose what they believed was a real chance at finding lasting love.

Romance scams occur when someone poses as a possible love interest. They reach out to you on social media, on dating apps and websites, via text message or email or through any other means. The resulting conversation is fun and interesting, and the sheer amount of personal attention can lift anyone’s spirits. Before long, you find yourself looking forward to the numerous messages this person sends each day. It does not take long before the pre-packaged lines start to flow:

  • “I have never felt like this with anyone I have chatted with before.”
  • “I know we just started talking, but I think I’m falling in love with you.”
  • “I hope this is not too forward, but I could really see us spending the rest of our lives together.”

Of course, there is always a major obstacle from this new love interest that makes it hard to chat, speak on the phone or visit in person. Perhaps they work on an offshore oil rig, or they are a deep-sea fisherman out on the water for months at a time. Often, the scenario is that they are a U.S. soldier who has been deployed to Afghanistan. The job may change, but the excuse is the same.

Before too long, the ploy begins:

  • “I am stuck here on an oil rig and my mom—who adores you already and is excited about meeting you soon—needs medicine. The money is in my account, but the bank has frozen my account while I am away. If only there was someone who could send her money so she does not end up back in the hospital.”
  • “I am away on the boat and my son at university—I mean, our son—just had his laptop stolen. He is going to fail his classes and lose his scholarship.”

What’s worse, is the victim’s response to the ploy will determine the future of the relationship. Sending money right away will earn you more messages, more talk of marriage and a future. Showing even the slightest hesitation can result in being cut off for a while. Once you come to your senses and send the money, then the lovey-dovey talk starts back up.

You would think people would not be taken in so easily, but that is not true. In fact, despite the fact that romance scams have been around for years, 2019 romance scam statistics show Americans reported losses of over $201 million in 2019 to romance scams. Those romance scam statistics are just the reports that were actually made to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and does not include the numbers of victims who are still embedded in these scams or were too upset and embarrassed to file a report.

Over the last two years, the money reported lost to romance scams was higher than any other reported scam according to the FTC. The FTC also says 2019 romance scams included more than 25,000 reports filed.

Avoiding a romance scam is much harder than it sounds, and recognizing that you have already been victimized is even harder than that. These scammers are good at what they do and they know exactly what to say to snare their victims. All you can do is adopt an air of caution about talking to people online, look for those red flags about long-distance relationships and far-flung jobs and remember that if anyone asks you for money for any reason, it is probably a scam.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, you can call the Identity Theft Resource Center toll free at 888.400.5530 to speak with one of our advisors or live chat with an advisor on our website. They will help you create an action plan for your case while directing you on the next steps you need to take.

For on-the-go identity assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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Hackers are taking advantage of the outbreak with a new coronavirus email scam.

When anything newsworthy happens, you can guarantee that scammers will attempt to make a quick buck off of the public buzz. Sadly, the coronavirus is just the latest global event to be used as bait by these criminals.

While the number of cases continues to climb and the death toll rises, scammers are using fake emails that contain harmful links to snare their victims by playing off their concerns. These emails claim to have information on coronavirus updates, an interactive link where you can look up the numbers of cases near you and more. The links, however, redirect to web pages that steal your information instead of providing you with important updates.

Sadly, this coronavirus email scam is a classic tactic on the part of scammers. You could remove “coronavirus” and insert whatever the latest headline-grabbing issue is, and these messages would look very similar. In order to avoid the coronavirus email scam and the threat in general, you must develop good cybersecurity behaviors and habits.

  • Never click a link, open an attachment or download a file that you were not specifically expecting. Instead, contact the sender to verify its authenticity. If the sender is not someone you regularly interact with, ignore the email altogether. Even if it is someone known to you, still verify the link in case their email was hacked.
  • Do not share or forward emails or messages that claim to have the “latest” headline news. They are often alarmist to the point of being hoaxes or contain outdated details. In the case of the coronavirus email scam, they contain dangerous links.

It is important to stay up-to-date on major events. Coronavirus and the flu, for example, are two medical issues that are rampant and very problematic, even more so for certain demographics of people. In order to stay on top of the news, go directly to trusted sources—such as the CDC or World Health Organization—for updates and information.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

This news is currently evolving and we will update as announcements are made available.  

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By: Eva Velasquez, President & CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center

If you have a LinkedIn account, keep an eye on your email for a LinkedIn romance scam.  There are immediate red flags in this communication, and I’m a happily married woman, but I did find part of this invitation appealing: I saw the immediate opportunity to educate people regarding romance scams!  Here is  a recent email that came to my work inbox. It said:

How are you,

I read your profile on LinkedIn and you caught my eye, I am interested in communicating more and sharing more about me with you and hope to learn more about you too that is if you are single and interested in communicating further. This is all new for me, it is the first time I would ever go against protocol of doing business only on the LinkedIn website. I do believe everything is possible if we put our mind and heart together just like I believe that good things can be found in the least places and when we least expect. I do not just give out my personal details like email or phone numbers to people on LinkedIn or off it, but I am willing to make a compromise to communicate with you so here am I emailing you off the site because I really wanted to touch base with you.

I am interested in communicating more this is me being honest. I hope no offense is taken, I understand the medium is a business networking medium and not a dating or social networking website and I don’t intend to use it for one. I will wait for your response soon hopefully, meanwhile, my profile on LinkedIn is on my name AUSTIN WAGNER. You should check me out and let me know what you think. I have no picture on my profile so I am sending you a couple of recent pictures too just so you know what I look like.

Warm Regards,
Austin Wagner

“Austin Wagner” went on to send me these pictures:

I first thought, wow this is one heck of scam but they definitely tried to phish the wrong gal. Oddly enough, I thought I  recognized the man in these images. Most times, scammers will steal pictures from public social media account to use for their own gain including dating apps, social media, etc. Sometimes these pictures will even be of a military member in uniform. I mean, who wouldn’t trust the red, white and blue?

Being the CEO of a non-profit that specializes in identity theft remediation, I put on my investigative hat and got to work. After a reverse image Google search, it turns out the pictures are of Joe Cross, the health advocate from the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I knew I recognized him! I had seen the film and even adventured on my own green juice journey (amazing benefits but that’s besides the point). Moreover, the pictures were from his Facebook and Twitter in 2016. This scammer chose the wrong person to come after!

I did not have a new love interest, and that is okay because, once again, I am a happily married woman! This LinkedIn romance scam is a reminder of how careful we all have to be of romance scams.

They can do more damage than nearly any other scam. Not only can they take your money, but they can meddle with your emotions as well.

To avoid falling victim to a LinkedIn romance scam, keep these things in mind:

Make Sure You Know the Person

If you receive a message like the one I received, it is fake. These scammers browse sites like LinkedIn looking for victims to take advantage of. As nice as it is to receive a compliment on your looks, don’t fall for ones like these and make sure you have alternate means of contacting the person outside of LinkedIn. I have received several instant messages from connections whose accounts were hacked. In fact, I received one from the CEO of Seamgen with whom I have a working relationship with. However, the ask looked odd, and requested that I click on a link to fill out a form. I emailed my contact and they confirmed that their account had been hacked and were in the process of restoring it.

Money? You Want My Money?

Everyone needs a little financial help, right? The first request for money will come along and it will seem like a legitimate request. Next thing you know, you have bought your “significant other” a plane ticket or medication for one of their sick relatives. If you get requests like this, it is a scam like the LinkedIn romance scam and the criminal is just looking to steal your money.

Mentioning money, some romance scams can force the victim into money laundering, which happens when your “significant other” wires your money with instructions to send it to someone else.

Others Types of Romance Scams

Not all romance scams are like the LinkedIn romance scam. Some can happen at your door, an online romance scam that crosses over into real life, as well as on dating apps.

The best way to protect yourself from scammers like these is to be smart and cautious, even more so than you would in a face-to-face relationship. Also, if you are EVER asked to send money, don’t do it. It is important to protect yourself from manipulative tactics. Protect yourselves from the “Austin Wagner’s” of LinkedIn, no matter how flattering they are.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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Identity Theft Resource Center®’s Annual End-of-Year Data Breach Report Reveals 17 Percent Increase in Breaches over 2018

Scam Alert: FedEx Delivery Text Scam

Scam Alert: Australian Fire Fundraising Scam

There is a new U.S. government consumer agency that will pay for data breaches? If that is what you have been told, it is not true. It would be like the fox guarding the henhouse, but actually paying that fox money to eat your chickens instead. A new phishing scam that masquerades as a U.S. government consumer agency is supposedly paying data breach victims for the loss of their personally identifiable information. Instead, once consumers enter their name, birthdate, credit card number and Social Security number, you can probably guess what happens next.

Yes, even more identity theft.

According to security company Kaspersky whose researchers discovered the scam, a website claiming to be the U.S. Trading Commission maintains a victims’ fund to help consumers who have been impacted by data breaches. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the U.S. Trading Commission, even though their website looks surprisingly similar to that of the Federal Trade Commission.

There are a number of red flags about the site that by now should be obvious to a lot of users. First, similar to the legitimate sites that let you check to see if your information has been compromised, this one offers you the chance to compare your information after you hand over some details. The boxes where you enter the information are not all spelled correctly. Also, Kaspersky’s researchers typed in a jumbled array of letters instead of the information, then received an “official” response from a member of Congress whose image and signature had been stolen for this fake.

In order to file a claim on the bogus information that the website shows you so they can pay for data breaches, you must enter your SSN and payment card. Those should always be major red flags to anyone who uses the internet. There is no reason to submit your SSN to anyone without verifying the company, their web security and why they need it.

The spoofing alone, using a similar-sounding name, should have given users pause. There is no government agency with that name, and a quick Google search can show you that. Never interact with a website that claims or appears to be official if you cannot identify the agency. Also, any government agency should have a .gov ending on its website and email domain names. Any website that gathers sensitive information like a payment card number or SSN should also have an HTTPS designation at the beginning of the web address.

Unfortunately, creating a fake website as part of a new phishing scam is a shockingly easy thing to do. That is why it is important that consumers know these red flags and look for them before interacting with any company or organization. Protect yourself by developing cautious good habits about where you submit your personal data.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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Identity Theft Resource Center®’s Annual End-of-Year Data Breach Report Reveals 17 Percent Increase in Breaches over 2018

Scam Alert: FedEx Delivery Text Scam

Scam Alert: Australian Fire Fundraising Scam

With the Super Bowl quickly approaching, it is time to start looking out for people trying to trick you with a Super Bowl scam. Fans are eagerly awaiting the results of the playoffs to see who will go head-to-head next month. Whether your team makes the final game or not, it is an exciting time for football fans. Unfortunately, it is also an exciting time for scammers.

From bogus tickets and fake travel deals to illegal online gambling, there is no limit to the different ways that criminals can attempt to pick your virtual pockets with a Super Bowl scam. One nearly unbelievable Super Bowl scam involved a beloved community member and well-known businessman who stole more than $750,000 from his own friends and associates. That included $36,000 from his own mother.

It is important to learn how to protect yourself from a Super Bowl scam now so that all you have to worry about come game day is having enough snacks on hand to celebrate.


Part of the trouble with spotting fake tickets from real ones is the fact that real ticket resale websites actually do exist. As long as the terms and conditions are met, buying someone’s unwanted tickets is legal. Sadly, it is rather easy to create a fake website that offers bogus tickets. Make sure you are only using verified ticket sources.

Hotel and Travel Packages

Just because you saw photos of a great suite close to the stadium or clicked on an ad for a $99 roundtrip flight, that does not mean your reservation is real. It is probably a Super Bowl scam. Only use legitimate travel sites to book your accommodations, and if possible, use a payment method that offers some kind of buyer protection. Avoid the urge to click on flashy last-minute deals, too.

Phishing Attempts

The easiest way to steal identifying information and funds is to never bother making fake tickets or fake travel packages. Instead, scammers send out a mass email or text message offers, or create viral social media posts. Unsuspecting fans click on the links in the message, hoping to get a great deal. Instead, either malware is installed on their device or the users submit their information and payment method to be stolen. The reality of scams and hoaxes is that these tactics are not limited to just Super Bowl scams. Criminals recycle their tools, mostly because they work, at any time of the year and whenever a major event is taking place. Be on the lookout for too good to be true opportunities and remember to safeguard your information at all times.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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Ring Doorbell Data Leak Exposes Over 3,000 Accounts 

Data Privacy Day 2020 – The Year of Privacy

Like many great celebrities, Ellen DeGeneres is known for her generosity and gifts to her many fans. At the holidays, she tends to ramp up the effort and give high-dollar gifts to countless people. Unfortunately, the publicity surrounding these endearing episodes of her show has led to an Ellen Facebook scam.

Under the guise of The Ellen Show, fake accounts are offering sought-after prizes to social media users who jump through their hoops and fulfill their requirements. It might be commenting, sharing the post, liking it or clicking a link and filling out a form with a lot of personal information. In some cases, hoaxes of this kind have also led to financial loss when scammers move forward with their crimes. People in other scams like the Ellen Facebook scam have been asked for their personally identifiable information, complete identities and money. This holiday season—and all year long—do not be taken in by the Ellen Facebook scam, Lowe’s “tiny house” scams and other similar traps.

Remember, even commenting on a post like one to warn others that it is a scam can link your account to the scammer’s post. Instead, make your own post with a screenshot of the original if you want to get the word out and warn others. You can also report the post to Facebook or to the Group in which it was posted. Social media scams and hoaxes like the Ellen Facebook scam are a serious issue, and there is no sign that they are letting up soon. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to know how to spot the indicators. Major companies have official accounts (sometimes with a checkmark) and they do not make silly grammatical errors.

Also, stop and think about what they are really offering. When is the last time you heard of Walmart giving away $100 coupons to everyone who likes a post, or Lowe’s building houses for people but only if they respond in the nick of time? Quite simply, they do not do that. However, that does not stop unsuspecting people from interacting with the scammer and spreading the post far and wide. Be a good digital citizen and remind the people you care about that scams and hoaxes are no joke, especially this time of year.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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Holiday Phishing Scams Target Small Businesses

Social Security Phone Scam

E-Skimming is a New Cybercrime That is Just in Time for the Holidays

As this year winds down, it is important to spend a little time reflecting on the 2019 identity crimes, some of the things that went right in 2019 and the things that did not go as well. This is true for so many subjects, especially identity crime – which includes scams, fraud, data breaches, cybercrime and all of the other types of crimes that go with it.

Fallout from 2018

As in previous years, this past year has been a big one for these kinds of crimes. Tech users are still feeling the aftermath of things like the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica privacy debacle that was uncovered last year; Congress is still at work on what to do about consumer privacy in the social media age. Also, the news that phishing attacks more than doubled last year over the year before had researchers, businesses, lawmakers and consumers alike paying closer attention to the messages they receive.

What Went Right in 2019

Fortunately, new legislation has come along to make our privacy lives a little safer. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations went into effect in Europe last year, for example, and they inflict strict penalties on businesses that gather and store data but let it fall into the wrong hands. New laws in California and Colorado will be taking effect soon, intent on strengthening privacy and consumer choice. Best of all, the awareness of what constitutes these kinds of crimes and how to recognize them is increasing.

Top Security Incidents of 2019

However, this welcome news does not mean that consumers are safe or that hackers are finally giving up. With every new platform, tool or technology, there is even greater potential for new avenues of attack. Healthcare providers and insurance companies continued to be one of the hardest-hit targets this year, thanks to the overwhelming amount of personally identifiable information (PII) they gather. “Accidental exposure” breaches were a common 2019 identity crime for major-name companies, which happens when businesses store huge databases of private information – in an online server then fail to password protect it as an example. Even our entertainment was not safe, as many apps and online gaming portals suffered data breaches that were traced back to reusing passwords on multiple sites.

2019 did not just see a lot of large data breaches, but settlements as well.

Equifax Settlement

In July, Equifax reached a $700 million settlement for harms caused by their data breach. Equifax agreed to spend $425 million to help victims of the breach, leading to lots of discussion on how to file a claim.

Facebook Settlement

While the Equifax settlement was the largest in data breach history to date, Facebook blew it out of the water just two days later, as they were ordered to pay $5 billion. After the settlement, Facebook said it required a “fundamental shift” in Facebook’s approach at every level of the company in terms of their privacy.

Yahoo Settlement

A month and a half later a Yahoo data breach settlement was proposed for $117.5 million after over three billion Yahoo accounts were exposed. Identity Theft Resource Center CEO, Eva Velasquez, stated in a media alert that the settlement trend is moving the needle in the right direction for both consumers and victims. However, that was not without its challenges, including putting the onus on the consumer to tell the settlement administrators how they were harmed and provide proof of it.

10,000 Breaches Reported

This past year the Identity Theft Resouce Center also recorded 10,000 publicly-notified data breaches since 2005. As part of the milestone, the ITRC took a look back at some of the top breaches the last 15 years as part of our 10,000 Breaches Later blog series.

Minimizing Future Risks

While data breach fatigue is a recognized phenomenon, one that can occur when consumers are bombarded with constant news about their data being compromised, the flip side is the kind of paranoia that makes you want to unplug and go live off the grid. However, neither of those is the solution. What does work is an awareness of the threat and some good privacy habits to prevent crimes like the 2019 identity crimes:

We’re Here to Help

Remember, you are not responsible for the criminal behaviors of a hacker. However, you can take steps that reduce your risk of becoming a victim and help minimize the damage if the worst does occur. The Identity Theft Resource Center is always here to help. Call us toll-free at 888.400.5530 or live-chat with one of our advisors.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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Holiday Phishing Scams Target Small Business

Social Security Phone Scam

There is a new Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint phishing scam making its way around that is hitting the inboxes of consumers, business owners and even charities.  

Phishing attempts get their name from the wide net that scammers throw out, hoping to catch a few gullible people in the process. Some reports have even said that ridiculous stories and bad grammar are intentional. The reports have said it helps the scammers only catch the kind of people who are willing to believe that a major corporation sends out emails with terrible typos and awkward sentences.

However, this new BBB complaint phishing scam that appears to come from the BBB pretty much takes the cake:


The Better Business Bureau has received the bellow referred complaint from one of your associate on the subject of their dealing with you. …We look forward to your urgent response. Before we take action on you

As you can see, the author of this email does not pay much attention to the rules of standard English. Remember, though, that the goal is to only interact with people who would believe an email such as this one would really come from the BBB. Anyone savvy enough to spot the errors and understand that a national company would never release such a message is probably too worldly to fall for the BBB complaint phishing scam.

However, there is a dangerous aspect to the BBB complaint phishing scam, that being the instructions (removed from the middle of the message for brevity) telling the recipient to download the attachment in order to read the complaint against them. It is noted twice in the email that it must be downloaded to a computer to be read, which is actually not true. The goal is simply to get you to open the attachment, which will undoubtedly install harmful software on your computer.

In order to avoid scams like the BBB complaint phishing scam—even if there is a chance that the message is legitimate—make it a habit to never click a link, download a file, open an attachment or any other dangerous response. Even if you recognize the sender’s name and email address, do not click or open anything unless you were expecting it since their account could have been hacked or spoofed.

Also, learn to be a little bit of a “message detective” when you receive a strange email or text. Is the grammar up to par? Are there strange salutations, like “Dearest Sir or Madam” or simply “Attn” instead of a formal greeting? Do you even have an account with the bank the email supposedly came from? Or in the case of the BBB complaint phishing scam, do you even own a business? If not, how would you be cited by the BBB for complaints about shady business practices?

Remember, scammers do not care if you actually have an account or own a business. All they need you to do is be curious enough to click that attachment. From there, they can root through your computer and find what they want. Do not fall for it.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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Holiday Phishing Scams Target Small Businesses

Social Security Phone Scam

E-Skimming is a New Cybercrime That is Just in Time for the Holidays

There were a handful of 2019 scams that affected many consumers. It is the best time of the year. No, not because of the holidays, shopping, travel or food. It is time for the end-of-the-year “best of” lists. Unfortunately, not all of the lists are fun or encouraging. Take a look at the Identity Theft Resource Center’s top scams of the year list, compiled in no certain order:

Venmo Scams

Popular peer-to-peer payment app Venmo is a common tool for scammers due to the instant payment feature. Some scams involve a person asking to use your phone, opening your payment app and sending themselves a large amount of money from your bank account or credit card before you realize it. Other 2019 scams involved a twisted mode of attack in which a scammer would “accidentally” send you the money and then ask for you to send it back, potentially causing additional payments or charges.

Costco Coupon Scam

Coupon scams are not new, but the names of the retailers who supposedly send out high-dollar discounts changes frequently. This year, Costco was a common name associated with these bogus coupons. Scammers typically post the coupon links on social media, offering $100-$250 coupons if you take a short survey. First, the survey is not short. Also, you have to supply your email address on multiple screens and it will then be used to send you spam. Finally, the coupon is not real and you got nothing for your trouble.

Dating App Scams

Romance scams were prevalent enough before apps made online dating and social media connections even easier. This kind of scam works too well but sadly, losing money to a romance scammer or dating app scam is not the worst part of this kind of fraud.

Stripe Email Scam

Stripe is the latest company to become a popular disguise for scammers. This year, the ITRC saw a lot of phishing attempts and Stripe, which processes online payments, was an easy mask. After all, telling someone their funds are not coming their way can trick even the most tech-savvy user into clicking on the link or handing over their information.

Online Advertisement Scams

It is great to go online and find an ad for an incredibly-priced product. Unfortunately, clicking that ad can have disastrous results if it is a scam. Too often, there is no way to tell it was a scam until you have fallen for it. Instead, users need to remember to look for the item themselves by going to the retailer’s website and bypassing any possible attack from this 2019 scam.

Flipping Scams

Much like the old pyramid schemes, a flipping scam shows up as a photo of a pile of cash alongside a bogus statement. “I got this money for doing nothing and I want you to get yours, too!” However, in a flipping scam, there is not even a pyramid setup. You just send money to the scammer and that is the end of it.

Equifax Scams

Scammers wait with bated breath for major disasters so they can take advantage of the confusion. That has certainly been the case with the Equifax data breach in which hundreds of millions of consumers’ complete identities were stolen by hackers. As if that 2019 scam was not bad enough, scammers then unleashed their own fraud attempts by claiming to offer support services to people who submitted all of their identifying information.

Tech Support Scams

Fake calls and emails from “tech support” companies are nothing new, but there were still more than 140,000 reports of this 2019 scam to the Federal Trade Commission. Unsuspecting users receive a message that claims to be from Microsoft, Apple, their device manufacturer or some other plausible company. The criminal takes down all of the victim’s identifying information and possibly installs a virus on the user’s computer, all while demanding a clean-up fee to remove a virus that was never there to begin with.

Job Site Scams

One of the many cruel 2019 scams out there is the job scam. Fake job postings are nothing new, but in an economy in which many people are looking for additional work or higher-paying jobs, scammers have found a way to attack. They post fake jobs on popular sites and then use those listings to steal identities and even money from hopeful candidates.

With the new year lurking just a few weeks away, now is the time to prepare. Sign up for emails and alerts from the ITRC and other sources in order to stay on top of the latest scams and fraud attempts. That way, you can try to avoid any of the attacks like the 2019 scams that will undoubtedly be listed at this time next year.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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