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 – Tech Support Scam
A scammer reaches out to you—typically by a message on your computer or by phone—and claims to be from tech support for Windows, your computer’s manufacturer, or some other related company. He explains that there are corrupted files on your computer and he has to get in there to fix the issue. The scammer wants access to the victim’s computer in order to dig around for useful information, but be aware that other versions of this same scam also involve callers who offer to “clean” the virus from your computer in exchange for credit card payment for the service. In any case, tech support departments do not work this way; it’s a scam, and you should never give access, information, or payments to someone who calls you.
#2 – Lottery Scams
Lottery scams are certainly nothing new, but the reports that came into the BBB this week had a twist that was straight out of our nightmares. It’s not enough that a cold caller contacted the victim to inform him he’d won a million dollars and a new car in the MegaBucks drawing (a real lottery, by the way). But in this situation, in order to claim the prize, the victim had to meet the “prize committee” at his bank, presumably to deposit the massive check. From there, the conversation took a different turn: they wanted to come to the victim’s house. No one who ever contacts you out of the blue should have any reason to come to your home. If it can’t be handled by mail through a legitimate postal service or shipping company, through email, or through other safer means, you must distance yourself from the situation immediately.
#3 – Work from Home Scam
Work from home scams are as old as the postal system. In the olden days, you bought your kit, you paid for your supplies, you may have even paid for training materials, and at the end of the process the only person who was better off was the individual who sold you all of those goods. Now, thanks to the internet and the abundance of job hunt information, it’s easier than ever for someone to steal your identity by posing as a potential employer.
One person who received a work-from-home employment opportunity in the past week was contacted out of the blue by someone who wanted to hire him, but needed his highly-sensitive information to conduct the “background check,” as well as his bank account information in order to set him up on direct deposit. Those are very plausible reasons to ask for a victim’s identifying information…AFTER he has the job, NOT as part of the hiring process. Never give out this level of information during the hiring process, and never give it to someone who contacts you without prior communication.
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.