A scam occurs when someone tricks another out of something of value to them. Most scams are confidence tricks where the individual pretends to be someone they are not, usually by misrepresenting their person, authority, or skill. Typically, scams aim to get unsuspecting individuals to part with money, goods, or personal information.
Many people fall victim to various forms of scams every day. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission received 2.8 million reports for different types of scams, amounting to a loss of $5.8 billion.
While many different types of scams have been around for years, the top 10 to watch out for in 2022 include the following:
The number of scams associated with cryptocurrencies began to increase as their popularity grew. There are now several types of cryptocurrency scams, including fake apps, fake celebrity endorsements, and crypto giveaway scams. Several others are cloud mining, social media, and blackmail scams. Generally, crypto scams fall into two categories:
Phone scammers use aggressive sales, false advertising, false alerts, grand promises, and threats to get you to pay money, divulge sensitive information, download an unsafe app, or visit a website using a link. Phone scams come as false virus alerts, phone calls, text messages or voicemails urging you to take action, and calls from an unknown caller that only rings once.
An account takeover scam occurs when a malicious person gains access to your online account and uses it for personal gain by withdrawing money, selling extracted information, or making purchases. Criminals perpetrating this type of scam may assume the identity of a legitimate employee in an organization, or hijack an email account.
An online shopping scam occurs when a scammer pretends to be a real online seller but uses a fake website cloned to look like the original, or posts a fake advert on a legitimate retailer’s site. Typically, online shopping scammers offer popular brands at low prices.
Romance scammers create accounts on dating sites with fake identities to gain your affection and trust. When they’ve built trust, they find a reason to collect money from you and either keep milking you or disappear immediately.
Scammers sometimes pose as recruiters from legitimate companies advertising job openings. They promise to get you the job but end up charging you a fee for their service or gaining access to your details. Types of job scams include federal government, job placement, and virtual assistant scams.
Most people feel vulnerable after a natural disaster. Scammers use this vulnerability to prey on victims and concerned people alike, using these events to defraud individuals or the government. Some forms of natural disaster scams include charitable solicitation, insurance fraud, forgery and impersonation, price gouging, vendor/contractor fraud, and Covid-19 scams. In most natural disaster scams, a scammer may do one or more of the following:
A scammer may claim to work for a government agency and ask you to pay a fee or release your personal information to them. They insist that you will miss out on a government benefit or suffer the negative effect of a federal, state, or local policy if you don’t comply. Government imposter scams mostly happen through IRS and Social Security Administration impersonator scams.
Fraudsters can set up an email account that resembles one associated with a reputable organization. These impostor emails usually target finance, HR, and payroll departments. The scammers use important email subjects such as tax information, wire transfers, out-of-date billing information, and expired passwords to get your attention. Other email subjects commonly used include delayed payroll or employee raises, confidential or urgent information, business communication, and policy updates.
A scammer can pretend to work as a support technician for a renowned tech company. They lead you to believe that your computer has an issue and ask you to pay to resolve it. They typically ask that you pay using gift cards, cryptocurrency, fund wires, or prepaid cards. Tech support scams occur through phone calls or pop-up warnings on your computer screen.
You can spot a scammer by paying attention to the following warning signs:
Scammers are always looking for new targets. You can protect yourself from them by adhering to the following:
Ensure all your passwords contain random string characters, including uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and numbers. Also, use different passwords for multiple accounts. Lastly, it is advisable to store your passwords in a secure online vault or use password managers.
Consider using multi-factor authentication for accounts that offer them. Multi-factor authentication provides extra security and makes it harder for scammers to access your account even if they have your username and password.
Install all apps from trusted sources and ensure you only use official apps. Using a third-party site to access banking and other related services may give criminals unwanted access. Also, avoid third-party apps that put all your services together. Instead, use the official app for each service.
Avoid clicking any link in a message if you do not know the sender. Instead, find the appropriate link and manually type it out or copy and paste it from an official source. Also, ignore calls and texts from persons and phone numbers that are unfamiliar.
Conduct independent research to find out if a prize won, product advertised, or business opportunity is legitimate. Also, ensure to verify all phone numbers and email addresses from an organization’s official website. In the event of a disaster, investigate all contractors before hiring them.
Ensure that the website you’re using is secure for making payments. A secure website begins with the URL “HTTPS” and has a padlock symbol. Websites with this URL use encryption to protect your data.
Immediately you realize you have fallen victim to a scam, take the following actions:
Fraudsters carefully target certain persons and may sometimes succeed because they imitate a real service or platform. Always remember that scammers are always on the prowl, and do everything you can to protect yourself. Generally, verify the identity of all persons you’re dealing with, and keep all important details and devices secure.