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:
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.
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.
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.
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