2017 Scams and Fraud Trends to Watch Out For

by Mary on February 22nd, 2017

New year, new and improved scams. In 2017 watch out for the usual fraudulent tricksters to employ new techniques, because the bad guys are always improving their craft. Prepare yourself to be safe from fraud this year. Be on the lookout for these scams that are predicted to trend heavily in 2017.

Phishing emails/scams

When you get an email, be sure it’s legitimate—don’t just click or call where it tells you to. These emails can look shockingly real, with proper logos and email addresses that look real. You could inadvertently download a computer virus that hijacks your computer. You might be told to click on a link to update your account information or to email back with sensitive identity questions like your Social Security number.

Don’t click and take the bait!

Instead, go to the company’s website directly and check your account. If there’s no reference to a problem, you’re probably okay but it never hurts to call your bank or brokerage directly. Use the Contact Us phone number on a recent statement, the back of your credit card, or on the web address that you searched for in Google. (See typo-squatting below for tips on careful browsing). Never call the number in the fake email. Remember, they’re the bad guys.

Typo-squatting

Be careful about typing a URL to your financial institution’s website on your browser—a typo could take you to a site that has a URL that looks legitimate, but isn’t. In a move called typo-squatting, scammers often purchase domain names that are commonly mistyped, create convincing websites that prompt you to log in so they can scan and steal the information. They can then get into your account using your user name and password.

Over-the-phone imposters

IRS scams have become very popular and are more convincing than ever. If you’re contacted by someone who says they are from the IRS calling about money you must provide right away, just hang up. No matter what they tell you, they are not the IRS, which has a policy to contact people by traditional mail only. Call the IRS directly using a number other than the one the caller gives you to check, if you’re uncertain.

Other scam calls can be for debt collection, lottery or sweepstakes, or tech support, to name a few. Bottom line, never give out personal information no matter what, and don’t send money even on a gift card.

Virtual kidnapping

Fear can cause muddled thinking, but don’t fall for a fearmonger’s intimidations. Over the phone threats can include physical threats to a loved one if you don’t pay up—some are so convincing you can hear someone pleading or screaming in the background. Many caring grandparents have been victimized by a scam in which the caller says their grandchild is in trouble and ransom can be paid by transferring money to the perpetrators via pre-paid Visa gift cards.

Don’t play along. Just hang up. Then call the person they say they’ve kidnapped to verify they are okay for peace of mind.

Stay vigilant and remember, it’s always better to be suspicious than scammed. If you’re contacted for fraudulent reasons, let the local authorities know right away.

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