By Lorie Ham
Scams and con artists have been around for centuries. However, they do keep changing with the times. What doesn’t change, is the fact that most of them use greed, fear, or love as a motivator to get their victims to do what they want.
Scams about warranties, supposed Amazon purchases, and fake emails and texts from friends in distress, are extremely common. Another popular one is where they reach out offering to help you with your student debt, which is especially funny when you don’t have any. One for seniors to look out for is the “grandparent scam” where they get a call from someone claiming to be their grandchild who is in trouble and needs money asap. Ever since the internet became a common thing “catfishing” has also become very common.
Some other top scams in 2022 according to AARP include:
- Google Voice Scam
- Rental assistance Cons
- Fake Job Frauds
- Cryptocurrency ATM Payments
- Tax Imposters
Ones involving cryptocurrency are definitely something newer, as is the Google Voice scam. According to the AARP article, that one starts with you posting something online with your phone number (item for sale, lost pet, etc.). You then get a call from the scammer feigning interest but they want to verify that you aren’t a scammer. They tell you that you are about to get a verification code from Google Voice (their virtual phone and text service) sent to you, and ask you to read it back. What’s really going on: They are setting up a Google Voice account in your name. “They can go on to perpetrate scams and pretend to be you, hiding their footprint from law enforcement,” says Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.
“Greed is a strong motivator,” says Mennonite Insurance Chief Executive Officer Jerry Linscheid. “We all want to get something without having to work for it. A common scam format is to send a little money in exchange for a big payoff. The old adage ‘if it’s too good to be true…’ is actually very good advice.”
According to a recent article on Big i the pandemic resulted in an “unprecedented increase” in reported cyberattacks as well, according to the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report (ICR). Americans lost over $1.2 billion between tech support and confidence or romance scams alone. The same article provides some suggestions on how to avoid cyberthreats.
So how can you avoid scams, whether they come to you via the internet, phone, or come right up to your door? Some red flags that Merrill advises their customers to look out for include:
You’re pressured to act urgently
- You’re threatened with law enforcement or a government agency action
- You’re told to purchase gift cards and provide codes as a form of payment
- You’re asked to open an account or deposit a check from someone you don’t know, and then wire some or all of the money back out
- Your wire recipient’s info changes at the last minute (particularly during significant purchases, such as home closings)
They also suggest some things you can do to avoid being scammed:
- Don’t respond: If you’re not 100% certain of the source, hang up the phone, don’t click on the link in the email, and don’t reply to the text message.
- Don’t trust caller ID or answer phone calls from unknown numbers: It is too easy for those things to be faked now.
- Don’t give out your information: Never provide any personal information unless you’re absolutely certain the person and reason are legitimate.
- Research and validate: Make sure the request being made is legitimate by calling the organization through an official number from their website, the Better Business Bureau or consulting with a trusted family member or friend.
There are more scams happening in the world than we can ever keep up with and that is never going to change, so sadly the best defense is to always be skeptical. Always verify anything. As they say, better to be safe than sorry.
If you have a story of someone trying to scam you that you would like to share to help others avoid it happening to them, please feel free to share about it on our Facebook page.