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. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.
It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.
#1 – Credit Card Interest Scam
Everyone wants to save money, and to think that they are making smart choices with their finances. So when an individual calls you to offer you a lower interest rate on your credit card, you’re bound to take it seriously. Unfortunately, once a scammer has your interest, you’re more like to fall for fraud.
In a recent scam report to the BBB, the caller—who claimed to be from the would-be victim’s credit card company—stated that he was eligible for a lower interest rate. All he would need to do in order to process the better rate would be to verify all of his information, including account number and Social Security number.
Fortunately, the recipient doesn’t have a credit card with that company, but even more importantly, he smelled a scam and refused to turn over his data. It’s important to remember that no one who calls you will ever need all of your information, and that anyone who contacts you and asks for sensitive information like your Social Security number is not to be trusted.
#2 – Government Grant
Just in a matter of a few days, multiple reports were made to the BBB about government grant scams. Callers who identify themselves as working for the US government to distribute free grant money are really just looking for your personal identifying information and account information in order to steal your identity and your money.
While it’s true that a lot of grant and scholarship money goes unclaimed every year, there’s a basic reason for that: because the process of applying for those funds is very involved. The government simply does not call random citizens and offer them money. No one does, and if you’re ever offered money or gifts in exchange for your information or a small application fee, hang up immediately.
#3 – Debt Collection Scam
This is a strange variation on an old scam, and it’s alarming because it’s far too easy for it to work. In this instance, a caller contacted the victim about a current debt. The caller claimed to work for a payment processing center, and stated that the debt had been sent to this company in order to work with the victim on making payments. It sounded a lot like a collections company, but somewhat friendlier.
The victim agreed to make payments since he did, in fact, owe the debt. Unfortunately, the company wasn’t real, and the debt wasn’t actually paid off. The victim paid the full amount of the debt (broken up into two payments), but now he still owes that amount to the original debtor.
Remember, you will never have to make payment in any way to someone who calls you over the phone or emails you. You may be sent reminder notices or receive reminder phone calls, but all legitimate payments will be initiated via a paper bill; follow up messages are fine, only after the original debt has been stated in writing with complete company information and account numbers. If you’re contacted and told to make a payment immediately, request a letter in writing and then verify it before ever sending a dime.
For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site 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.
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