Q: Worried about scams? Here are some things to avoid!
Helpful information from government agencies regarding scam tactics & prevention.
Whether you're answering the phone, checking your e-mail, or even just swiping your card at a gas pump or ATM, potential scams are everywhere these days! Here's some info gathered from the FTC, BCFP, & SSA regarding popular scams & how to avoid them:
- Scammers will often attempt to mask their phone numbers with those of trusted companies (or even your own phone number!). This is called "spoofing." Here's an article from the Social Security Administration regarding the evolution of these fraudulent calls. If you're curious, this article even contains audio of what one of those scam calls might sound like.
- These cons also pretend to be tech support for your computer. Here's another FTC article on how to spot this scam before it happens, or what to do if you're worried it's happened to you.
- Speaking of tech support, it has been uncovered Office Max & Office Depot were involved in fraudulent diagnoses of malware infections for customer devices, & did so for years! Settlements have been agreed upon, so check out this article for more details (especially if you received a “PC Health Check” at Office Depot or OfficeMax stores between 2009 and November 2016).
- ATMs & gas pumps aren't always safe either. Here's another helpful article (with pictures!) from the FTC on how to spot signs of card skimming devices.
- Regardless of the tactic, the typical goal of any scam is to convince you to release private information, which is called "phishing." Here's an FTC article on phishing tactics & what to do if you're a victim of a phishing crime.
- The FTC also recommends you update the software on your electronic devices as soon as it becomes available.
- Scams related to Medicare coverage are also being used to target seniors; this handy entry from the FTC contains a video on how to avoid falling victim to Medicare scams.
- Scammers are also looking to mingle in the online dating world. Check out this article from the FTC on Internet chat warning signs.
- These crooks could be involved in a larger ring, jeopardizing other people just like you! To assist in federal investigations, report information regarding your scam to the FTC here.
- Your kids' information is also vulnerable; those under 13 are covered under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), but some companies still seek to exploit them. Click here to read an article about a recent FTC settlement case involving minors' information.
- There are also new protections in place if identity info is compromised for a child under 16.
- If you've given your Social Security and debit card numbers via a call or text from someone claiming to be associated with your bank, this was likely a scam. Visit identitytheft.gov for assistance in the recovery process.
- If you've been encouraged to pay someone or clear a debt by sending them a gift card.. yup, you guessed it, this is most likely a scam. Check out this article from the FTC on more information on these operations as well as customer service contact information for some gift card providers.
- Want to watch the latest new movie or big sporting event, but don't want to pay for it? Well, I'll just let the FTC tell you here why using illegal video streaming services might just cost even more.
- The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection also has a list for ways to help safeguard your personal information.
If any of the above instances sound familiar, or you've noticed strange activity on your accounts, it's probably worth investigating. Check out this FAQ entry on steps to take if you feel you've been a victim of identity theft.