Personal data, including social security number, addresses and account numbers are the type of information thieves try to steal from you. Scammers then trade information through black markets to use in future identity theft operations. Criminals will use stolen identities in order to obtain credit cards, fake mortgages, loans, and cash advances. Once an identity theft occurs, it is very difficult to undo the damage. It often costs thousands in legal fees just to clean up the mess created by these criminals. Be aware of how thieves try to steal information. Take a look below at some of the common scams we hear about.
Types of Scams to Be Aware of – it if sounds too good to be true, it is!
1. Fake Warnings from Financial Institutions. No financial institution would ever send you warning messages saying your credit card has expired or that there is a problem with your account and urge you to hand over banking details, but fraudsters would. If you ever receive an e-mail, phone call or text message requesting your sensitive personal information, you’re probably facing a phishing scam.
2. Lottery Scams. Victims will receive a message stating that they have won a large amount of money and need to call or e-mail to begin a claim process. Victims are instructed to pay “government taxes” or a “processing fee” to receive their prize. Scammers may even claim to be from well-known lottery companies, such as Publisher’s Clearing House. The victim then waits to receive their claim; however, no prize ever arrives. They are then out the money that they paid for “taxes” or “fees.”
3. Money Transfer Scams. Money transfers can be useful if you want to send money to someone you know and trust. At the same time, they are risky when you send money to someone you don’t know. That’s why many law enforcement agencies caution against it. The recipient of a money transfer gets the money quickly, so it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transfer if you realize you’ve made a mistake.
4. Selling Items Online. Victims, using the internet classifieds to sell merchandise, are often offered more than the price the item is listed for. When payment is made, the amount of the check will be more than the price of the merchandise and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location. The seller is instructed to deposit the check, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer or to another associate identified as a shipping agent. The check is later found to be fraudulent.
5. Employment/Business Opportunities. Employment/business opportunity schemes have surfaced wherein bogus companies are recruiting citizens in the United States on several employment-search websites for work-at-home employment opportunities. These companies then send a large check, asking the funds to be returned or sent to a third party. The check is later found to be fraudulent.
6. Online Loan Fraud. Victims apply for a loan online from a short term loan company. These companies usually have names that are close to, but not the same, as other well-known short term loan companies. Victims provide their personal information online and are then asked for their online banking user name and password to either verify an account or for the company to deposit the loan proceeds. The deposit is later found to be fraudulent and the scammers have taken over the account withdrawing all funds.
7. Selling Account Information. Scammers are asking for your account access, such as ATM/Debit Card, PIN, online banking user name and password. They say you can make some extra cash quick. They will commit fraud on your account. They will deposit fraudulent items and use the funds as quickly as they can.
8. Secret Account Scams. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that scammers are telling people they can pay their bills using “secret accounts” or “Social Security trust accounts” and routing numbers at Federal Reserve Banks. In exchange for personal information, like Social Security numbers, people get what they think is a bank account number at a Federal Reserve Bank. This is really just a way for scammers to get your personal information, which they can then sell or use to commit fraud, like identity theft. People can not have accounts at Federal Reserve Banks. Only financial institutions can have accounts at the Federal Reserve.
9. IRS Scams. This scam takes advantage of someone’s inherent fear of the Internal Revenue Service. The message appears to be from the police or an IRS agent who is demanding payment for overdue taxes. If they are not settled immediately, the scammer claims you’ll be arrested. They will want money either wired or put on a prepaid card. Be particularly on the lookout for IRS scams during tax season.
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