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The very latest in scam news

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The very latest in scam news

These days, information moves at the speed of light. You probably feel that you are bombarded with it and are forced to separate the wheat from the chaff, the useful from the useless. On the helpful side, some information can save you from making critical errors. One example is getting up to speed on the latest scams and learning to avoid becoming a victim.

Fighting fraud

A man sitting in front of a computer screen.

 As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported, in 2022, only two years later, that number soared to nearly $8.8 billion. The Department of Justice is focused on the problem but admits that scammers are becoming ever more innovative, and their methods are “constantly changing.”

By the numbers

A person holding up a sign that says fraud.

To help you get a grip on the issue, here are eight types of scams to be aware of and tips on how to best protect yourself from clever scam artists.

 

  1. Gift card scams: Do not go along with the concept of purchasing gift cards, for example, in payment for services or back taxes. Government authorities, such as the Internal Revenue Service, will not accept gift card payments.
  2. Online purchase scams: Watch out for social media ads involving sales from what appear to be reputable stores. Beware of visiting a supposedly legitimate website. You risk having your personal information stolen.
  3. QR code scams: Curious about what’s on a QR code? Downloading a QR reader app can lead you to a phishing website. It’s much safer to use the camera on a mobile phone and scan a QR code that interests you.
  4. Social Security number scams: Scammers are increasing their focus on older adults as viable targets. Beware of phone calls asking for financial information and threatening to withhold Social Security benefits if you don’t cooperate. The Social Security Administration would never do such a thing. Hang up. If you are afraid your Social Security number has been stolen—to open a credit card account in your name, for example—go online to IdentityTheft.gov to report your concerns. The Federal Trade Commission manages this website.
  5. One-time password scams: This kind of scam involves an automated bot that tries to get you to share an authentication code supposedly sent by a financial institution. The bot wants the code to access your bank account. Consequently, never share authentication codes or similar information that comes to you through an unsolicited text, email, or phone call.
  6. Check-washing scams: This kind of scam is about stealing checks from mailboxes. The thieves use chemicals to erase the name and dollar amount on a check, then fill in new information in the blank spaces. Be cautious and avoid leaving outgoing mail in your mailbox overnight.
  7. Text message scams: Be wary if you receive a text message addressed to someone else. This could lead to a friendly exchange where the scammer eventually tries to get your credit card information or encourages you to make a cryptocurrency investment by which the scammer takes your money. Refrain from responding to a link. Instead, block the phone number from which the text message was sent.
  8. Package delivery scams: You may receive a phone call or text message from what appears to be a professional driver who can’t find your house to deliver a package. Perhaps you didn’t order something, but the delivery is supposedly a gift. The scammer may be after your personal information. If a text is involved, do not click on a link because that link may trigger a download of malware. The malware can then extract personal data from your computer.

Protect yourself

It is essential to safeguard your personal information. Be cautious—be over-cautious when a situation arises that makes you the least bit suspicious or that just seems too good to be true. Always be wary of unknown persons who contact you. Do not provide them with either personal or financial information.

Also, remember to be cautious about those great-sounding social media ads. Research the company before you purchase anything. Sift through the information you receive daily. Focus on separating the wheat from the chaff and turning the tables on scammers, no matter how innovative their practices.

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