You may be working hard to protect your personal and financial information but criminals are still defrauding many victims by combining new technology with old tricks. Staying informed is key in avoiding being victimized by these new and advanced scams. Check out these recent scams reported by the Better Business Bureau that are currently affecting hardworking people everywhere.
1. Stay Smart and Steer Clear of the College Fund Scam
The New York Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection is warning consumers of a phishing scam targeting college students. Identity thieves are posing as representatives of government agencies and contacting students, claiming they are eligible for state government funds available for higher education. Victims of this scam are then told they will need to provide their financial information in order for said funds to be deposited into their checking account directly. They’re then asked to click on a link for more information. These links will expose your computer and personal information to scammers.
If you receive an email like this or one of a similar suspicious nature, it’s important to know the following:
• Do not click on links or open attachments in any email that is from an unknown source.
• Know that the only financial aid information you can trust will come directly from the federal government or the college itself, unless you have requested information from private financial institutions. Solicitation offers are highly suspicious.
• Pay attention to the details within messages you received. Phishing emails often include grammatical errors and may address the recipient incorrectly.
• Only use built-in spam filters from your mailbox to report spams. Do not click on any link from the message you received even though it says “report as spam”. Do not click on any “unsubscribe” link from unknown senders.
• Never share your personal information, such as bank account number, full name, home address or social security number.
2. No, Equifax isn’t Calling
Scammers are reportedly taking advantage of nervous consumers in the wake of the highly publicized Equifax data breach. Most notably, identity thieves are posing as the credit reporting agency and asking consumers to verify account information and provide additional details.
It’s important to know that Equifax or similar organizations like financial institutions will never contact you by phone requesting information like this for any reason. If you receive a phone call like this, the following steps can help protect your personal and financial information:
• Never provide any personal or financial information unless you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a phone number you know is correct
• Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can spoof their numbers so it looks like they are calling from a particular company, even when they’re not.
• If you get an automated call, hang up. Don't press any number on your keypad in attempt to speak with a representative or take your phone number off the list. This will likely just lead to more calls.
According to the Better Business Bureau, If you’ve already received a call that you think is fake, report it to the FTC. If you gave your personal information to an imposter, you’ll need to change compromised passwords, account numbers or security questions.
3. Phony Employment Offers
Employment scams may be little known to many consumers but are becoming increasingly common. Victims may see an ad on a poster or even be contacted directly through a job or employment website by an identity thief posing as head hunters or potential employers.
These scammers may offer their victims a brief interview over the phone, web chat, or through email before offering the job to their victims. The victim is then told that before they can begin working, they’ll have to provide personal information like their bank account information and even pay money up front for work provisions, supplies or certificates.
Once the scammers have what they want, they’ll be sure to disappear.
Luckily, employment scams can be easy to recognize and avoid. Here are some things to watch out for:
• Some listed job opportunities are more likely to be scams than others. Work-from-home; secret shopper positions or any job with a generic job title, such as caregiver, can be a red flag for fraud. Because these positions often don't require special training or licensing, they appeal to a wide range of applicants, bringing in more potential victims for the scammers.
• Search the web for similar job postings. If identical job listings appear in other cities with the exact same job post, it is likely a scam. Also, check the real company's job page to make sure the position is listed there.
• Beware of on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job, but know that offers made without an interview uncommon and suspicious. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring him or her.
• Don't fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask him/her wire the money elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers.
• Avoid any job that asks you to share personal information or hand over money. Scammers will often use the guise of running a credit check, setting up direct deposit or paying for training. This information can then be used for identity theft, so be absolutely certain before you share.