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.

You might also like…

Holiday Phishing Scams Target Small Businesses

Social Security Phone Scam

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

The holidays are almost here, and for many people that means shopping. Unfortunately, scammers and hackers are already standing by to take advantage of consumers through data breaches and fraudulent activity, increasing the importance of holiday shopping safety. Before getting involved in this year’s estimated $1.1 trillion spending frenzy and the too good to be true online offers that go with it, it is important to understand what you can do to protect yourself and exercise holiday shopping safety.

Shop Online

A lot of people choose to skip the crowds and the chaos (and possible loss or theft of their wallets) by shopping online. However, in order to protect yourself from cyberthieves, you need to be prepared. If you are going to be establishing new accounts to make your purchases, do so before the big shopping holidays like Cyber Monday. Remember to use a strong, unique password, and enable two-factor authentication if it is offered.

Know Your Retailer

If you are already planning to shop online, exercise holiday shopping safety by choosing your retailers and making sure you are only using reputable websites. Look for the HTTPS designation at the beginning of the URL that indicates a secure website, and be sure that you are not redirecting to a website that has been made to look like the real thing. If you have received emails from companies that offer great deals, avoid clicking the links in the emails. Instead, go directly to the retailer’s website yourself and search for the item you are interested in.

Credit vs. Debit

Depending on which financial institution you use, your credit card may be more secure than your debit card. This is especially true if mysterious charges appear on your statement and you need to dispute those charges. Keep in mind that if you establish one credit card for all of your holiday shopping, it will be easier to reconcile any receipts and purchases later on. It may even help you stay on budget.

Computer Security

Before making any purchases online, exercise holiday shopping safety and make sure your computer itself is secure. Update your antivirus software and run a scan before starting your shopping in order to root out any harmful software that may be stealing your information.

Wi-Fi

If you are venturing out into brick-and-mortar stores for your holiday shopping, remember that public Wi-Fi can be problematic. A lot of retailers and restaurants offer free connectivity as an incentive to their customers. However, you cannot know who else is on the same connection. It could easily be a hacker who steals your information. Save your sensitive internet activity for your home connection.

Enable Alerts on Your Cards

If you have not already done so, contact your financial institution and enable alerts on your account. This is a very important holiday shopping safety tip. These alerts will arrive as a text message or email and will let you know immediately if your credit card number was used without the card being present, such as online. While you are enabling this feature, you might inform your credit card company if you plan to travel over the holidays so that your card is not declined for security reasons at your destination.

The Real Work Begins After the Holidays

Once the presents are shared and the decorations are put away, your work is not done. Monitor your accounts carefully for any signs of suspicious activity and take immediate action if you see any charges that should not be there.

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.


You might also like…

Are the Wrong Toys on Your Holiday Shopping List?

Hacked Disney+ Accounts Are Being Sold Online

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

Every year, consumers are cautioned to be extra careful when selecting toys on their holiday shopping list. There was a time when shoppers mostly worried about broken, damaged or otherwise physically unsafe toys. Perhaps there was even some concern about age-appropriateness or difficult assembly instructions. However, with more kids now using a wide array of technology-based presents, there are safety and privacy considerations to keep in mind while purchasing toys on your holiday shopping list for your nieces, nephews and children.

Over the past few years, various children’s gifts have later revealed privacy pitfalls that did not sit well with security experts, parents or child safety advocates. Everything from the potential for hacking and data breaches to establishing accounts using the children’s identifying information has become a red flag.

One very popular piece of kids’ tech, for example, has the possibility of being a parent’s worst nightmare. A smartwatch that is supposed to allow parents to pair the device to their own phones in order to keep up with their children sounds like a good idea on paper. However, the backend API for both the smartwatch and the mobile app that the parents downloaded to their smartphones turned out to be a wide-open space where anyone could access the children’s devices. Not only could someone physically locate the kids via their watches’ GPS, they could also initiate voice calls with the children. This was a perfect example of purchasing the wrong toys on your holiday shopping list.

As if that was not frightening enough, they could also change the parents’ passwords without having to go through their email accounts, lock the parents out of the account and then continue talking to the children. Someone could locate a nearby child, start up a conversation, prevent the parents from ever knowing about it and then tell the child where to meet them.

When shopping for toys on your holiday shopping list, it is important to know how any kind of children’s technology works before you buy it. Do you need to connect it to the internet for it to work, or just for it to download content? Does it require a parents’ account and children’s information as users? Is the child supposed to maintain the account? Does it incorporate password protection and two-factor authentication, or can anyone pick it up and look through its contents?

If you have the option to leave the internet connection and location settings turned off while in use, that may be safer. Of course, some items need both of those things in order to work properly. Be careful about giving a gift if the recipient is not ready for the responsibility of internet connectivity. Make sure you are communicating frequently about privacy and safety issues before purchasing any kids’ technology.

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.


You might also like…

Our Holiday Shopping Tips to Keep You Cybersafe

Hacked Disney+ Accounts Are Being Sold Online

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

The Force Has Awakened this #StarWarsDay! May the Fourth Be With You as you break out your lightsabers and prepare to do battle against the Dark Side of our cyber world with tips from the Identity Theft Resource Center and National Cyber Security Alliance.

To celebrate this #MayTheFourthBeWithYou, use the messages below on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to join the cyber force on May 4th, 2019. Don’t forget to use the #MayTheFourthBeWithYou hashtag!

Download all images and messages here.

 

Tweet: It’s #StarWars Day and the cyber force has awakened! Use our tips for protecting your identity from the dark side. #MayTheFourthBeWithYou @IDTheftCenter @StaySafeOnline https://idtheft.center/MayTheFourth

More resources: Identity theft impacts 17 million individuals every year and unfortunately, can impact you at anytime. Learn about the different types of identity theft and how you can protect yourself with help from ITRC.


Tweet: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Taking steps to protect your digital identity & privacy every day is a must. #MayTheFourthBeWithYou @IDTheftCenter @StaySafeOnline https://idtheft.center/MayTheFourth

 

More resources: The National Cyber Security Alliance’s (NCSA’s) CyberSecure My Business™ is a national program helping small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) learn to be safer and more secure online.

 

Tweet: You don’t have to go Solo. Get help from the cyber force with tips from @IDTheftCenter & @StaySafeOnline #MayTheFourthBeWithYou https://idtheft.center/MayTheFourth

More resources: Learn how to protect yourself, your family and devices with these Online Safety Basics

 

Tweet: A new hope for your digital identity is here. We have a plan to help you recover from identity theft. @IDTheftCenter & @StaySafeOnline #MayTheFourthBeWithYou https://idtheft.center/MayTheFourth

 

More resources: For free one-on-one assistance with identity theft, scams, fraud, cybersecurity, privacy and more, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center toll-free 888-400-5530 or LiveChat

 

Tweet: Think you have what it takes to be a digital jedi? Train with steps to empower your privacy & identity. #MayTheFourthBeWithYou #RiseOfSkywalker @IDTheftCenter & @StaySafeOnline https://idtheft.center/MayTheFourth

More resources: Take privacy into your own hands with a privacy quiz. Then learn how to update your privacy settings on popular devices and online services.

 

Even after May The Fourth, you can safeguard your information from the Empire all year-long by staying up to date with the latest threats to your identity and tips by signing up for our newsletters:

Stay Safe Online Email Sign-up: https://staysafeonline.org/email-signup 

Identity Theft Resource Center Email Sign-up: https://www.idtheftcenter.org/newsletter-signup/ 


If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, 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.

We’re hiring! The ITRC is a non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft, data breaches, cybersecurity, scams/fraud and privacy issues.

Communications Coordinator – Project Management

Summary: Coordinate all communications project activities to maximize the organization’s position with its audiences. Develop project timelines, monitor progress and finalize deliverables for external stakeholders including, but not limited to: funders, grant monitors, sponsors, partners, media partners, vendors and others. Serve as a sponsor/partner relations point of contact and communicate needs between internal cross functional teams and external points-of-contact. Provide support to sponsors and stakeholders on deliverables as assigned through agreed/contracted scope of work and project timelines. Traffic all internal communications projects from inception, project scheduling, delivery and reporting to all of the relevant stakeholders and work with other departments to ensure timely and accurate completion of all.

Apply here

Learn more about our mission

Info Sheet – Child Identity Theft 

This information sheet is for parents and legal guardians of someone under the age of 18 who may be experiencing identity theft.

What is Child Identity Theft?

Child identity theft occurs when the personal identifying information (most commonly a Social Security number) of someone under the age of 18 is used by an imposter for financial gain or to avoid criminal prosecution. The imposter could be a stranger, someone who knows the family or even a family member.

Minors can’t legally acquire credit, take out loans, or have a bank account without a parent or guardian co-signing.  What this effectively means for an identity thief is if they are able to acquire a child’s personal identifying information, they’re far more likely to have an extended period of time where they can use the information without it being noticed.

Identity thieves use minor children’s information in the same ways an adult’s information can be used.  Creditors, the credit reporting agencies, and government agencies do not know how old someone is just by their Social Security number. All they can see is the number, the credit history, and a name.

RED FLAGS
Indicators of possible child identity theft are:

  • Calls from collection agencies regarding bills or credit cards in your child’s name.
  • Your child’s name appearing on caller ID (indicating that someone may be using your child’s information to establish an account).
  • Your child’s personal documents (Social Security Card, birth certificate, etc.) are stolen or missing.
  • Your child gets a notice about a warrant for a traffic violation or for taxes owed.
  • Your child is denied government assistance or medical insurance because income or benefits have already been assigned to the child’s Social Security number. You might also be told they want to verify employment for a job where the child has never worked.
  • A notice from the IRS that your child’s name and/or Social Security number is already listed on another tax return (if the person claiming your child is NOT a parent or legal guardian).
  • Receiving a pre-approved credit card offer in your child’s name.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Do not carry your child’s Social Security Card or papers with this number unless necessary.
  • Think twice before providing your child’s Social Security number. You do not need to provide your child’s SSN to enroll your child in school or for your child to attend school nor do you need to provide your child’s Social Security number at a doctor’s office.
  • Shred all papers that contain your child’s personal information with a cross-cut shredder.
  • Consider obtaining a state identification card for your child at your state’s licensing office and/or consider obtaining a passport for your child. A verified form of identification is not only useful, and sometimes necessary, for travel, it can also prevent a thief from falsifying a state ID or passport using your child’s stolen information.  Keep in mind there will be fees associated with obtaining these documents and you’ll have to safeguard the documents to prevent them from being stolen or misused.
  • Parents/legal guardians should strongly consider freezing their children’s credit with the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) because it’s one of the best proactive measures they can take to protect them. It’s important that parents/legal guardians check and make sure there is no credit file already associated with their child’s information. Children shouldn’t have a credit report, and if one is discovered, parents/legal guardians should immediately contact us for assistance in reclaiming their children’s identity. If there is no file associated with their child, parents can have one created by the CRA and then immediately frozen. It’s also worth noting that parents or legal guardians need to safeguard the PIN that each credit reporting agency assigns to them.

Shared Custody and Claiming Children on Taxes

In most cases, a parent or legal guardian fraudulently claiming a child on a tax return is a civil matter to be handled by the courts and/or with the assistance of an attorney and is not considered identity theft. You can review the IRS Publication 501, Exemptions for Dependents for more information.

This info sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to itrc@idtheftcenter.org. Copyright, Identity Theft Resource Center®, all rights reserved.

Accounting & Finance Manager

Classification: Non-Exempt/Hourly

Employment Status: Regular, Full-Time

Reports To: Vice President of Operations

 

About Identity Theft Resource Center:

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is a non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft and cybercrime in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft, data breaches, cybersecurity, scams/fraud and privacy issues.

ITRC serves as a relevant national resource on consumer issues related to cybersecurity, data breaches, fraud, scams and other issues.

Position Summary:

Reporting to the Vice President of Operations, and serving as an integral member of the management team, the Finance Manager will be responsible for developing and maintaining efficient and effective financial operations, overseeing day-to-day bookkeeping responsibilities, preparing various financial statements for the organization, and ensuring that appropriate policies, procedures and internal controls are maintained to safeguard the organization and facilitate effective non-profit financial management.

Primary Roles and Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable
  • Month-end and year-end closing.
  • Preparation of quarterly financial reports for the board of directors and monthly financial reports for Executive Team.
  • Preparation of depreciation schedules and allocation schedules for expenses.
  • Preparation of audit materials and coordination with CPA during annual audit process.
  • Updating, creating, and implementing fiscal policies and procedures.
  • Reviewing grant budget spends and tracking grant income and expenditures against approved grant budgets to ensure continued compliance with approved budgets and applicable federal grant regulations.

 

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting/Finance with three to five years of experience in nonprofit accounting/finance
  • Demonstrable knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Nonprofit Accounting Standards.
  • Licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) a plus.
  • Demonstrated excellence in organizational, managerial, and communication skills.
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office programs and Adobe programs and accounting software.
  • Ability to work occasional evenings and weekends as required.
  • Commitment to the mission, vision, and values of ITRC.

Attitudes, behaviors, and traits:

  • Accountability for results.
  • Strong work ethic with an orientation towards constant innovation and process development.
  • Detail oriented, efficient, and accurate.
  • Ability to balance and prioritize tasks and projects.
  • Professional, effective communicator.
  • Proven team player; ability to collaborate and engage all internal/external stakeholders.

 

Compensation:

ITRC provides medical insurance as well as paid leave and holidays. The annual salary for this position is $60,000.

 

To Apply:

Please submit your resume and cover letter as a single document to mona@idtheftcenter.org.  Writing samples and reference letters encouraged.  Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. No phone calls, walk-ins or recruiters, please.

ITRC provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, sex, gender identity or expression, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, military status, caregiver status or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

Identity Theft Resource Center Predicts 2014 Identity Theft Climate for Tax Season and Beyond

For the last fourteen years, identity theft has been the number one reported complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) according to their annual report titled the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Javelin Strategy & Research has produced yearly studies, titled Identity Fraud Report, showing that the number of identity fraud victims increased from 10.2 million Americans in 2010 to 13.1 million in 2013.

This Research Says NO.

As the public has become more aware of scams and fraud, cybercriminals have had to up their game. Gone are the old Nigerian prince emails that tricked consumers into handing over their financial account information; instead, experts are now seeing phishing attempts that target businesses of every size and industry, and they do so by looking like the real deal.

One tech research firm KnowBe4 sent out “phishing tests” to see how individuals and businesses were likely to respond. Their most alarming finding may be this: the most successful phishing email contained a subject line that said, “Official Data Breach Notification.”
That email enticed more employees to open and follow through with the instructions than any other attempt subject line. What would prompt employees to put their companies at risk?

First, the change in notification laws allows companies who’ve suffered a data breach to email their victims instead of taking the time and expense to use the postal system. Just a few years ago, an emailed notification would have been easy to spot as a scam, but now, it could be legitimate. Also, where older phishing attempts were trying to cast a wide net and hope that someone fell for it—addressing recipients as “Dear Blessed Sir or Madam,” for example—targeted phishing attacks against businesses look very specific to that particular company or even to a specific employee.

Your company can invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in cybersecurity, but it takes only one employee opening a phishing email and downloading malicious software to bypass all of those measures and compromise your data. That’s why it’s crucial to spend focused time on training employees at every level of the company, from the custodial staff to the executives. Anyone can be targeted and can respond to an email, so having a company-wide policy on how to interact with unsolicited information can help prevent data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other crimes.


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.