Strategies To Avoid Losing Money to Scammers
According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2020 consumers reported losing more than $3.3 billion due to fraud, which is an increase from the $1.8 billion reported in 2019. (FTC).
Consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, which is an increase of more than 70 percent from the previous year’s totals. The data was just recently made public. According to George Dillman, a consumer outreach specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, if anything seems like it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
The different types of scams to look out for
A broad definition of financial fraud would describe it as any intentional act of deception involving financial transactions that are committed with the objective of obtaining personal advantage. In addition to being a breach of civil law, fraud is a criminal offense.
According to Dillman, “the typical loss for a senior citizen due to fraud is $6,500.” Scams can be broken down into the following categories: romance, charity, and relatives in need. The typical goals of con artists, according to him, are to quickly establish a link of confidence, to induce a purchase, or to depict a fictitious emergency.
Charity scams often do not give any written information about their organization to the target and instead attempt to coerce the target into sending money. On the website of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of State, a search for charities is available. Those who are called might inquire as to what percentage of a gift is actually put toward the organization. He said that customers should be aware that nothing is ever guaranteed.
Dillman gives sound advice when he says, “Make sure it’s a real charity before handing out money.” Scams involving “relatives in trouble” typically involve making a false claim about an urgent situation and asking for money. There may be others who demand privacy. Dillman suggests that you either phone the relative from a number that you already know or ask the caller questions that only a relative would know the answers to.
Dillman recommends that you ignore calls coming in from unidentified numbers. Paying money up ahead in exchange for a prize, loan, or other item of interest is an example of a con known as “pay-up-front.” According to him, customers would get a call from someone they do not know who has no link with them.
Some con artists will put on the persona of independent contractors. Dillman mentioned that the office of the state Attorney General keeps a registry of accredited professionals in the construction industry. Dillman said that you should never pay cash in order to claim something and that you should be aware of who you are dealing with at all times. It is strongly discouraged from him to ever make a purchase via a gift card or wire transfer.
Con artists may often pose as government agents, employees of technological companies, or employees of credit repair businesses in order to steal money. Dillman mentioned that there is a possibility that some people will say you could be arrested for not complying. Dillman stated that nobody from Microsoft or Dell would communicate with them about the matter.
His advice is that you should never transfer money and that you should always request proof of the debt. Dillman recommended keeping in mind that the government will not phone you out of the blue and ask for money, as this is a common tactic used by imposter scam artists. According to him, people can only address their own financial problems.
Earlier in the month of June, the treasurer’s office in Somerset County was the victim of a scam that resulted in the loss of nearly $11,000. According to the state police, staff members responded to a bogus email in June that requested a wire transfer.
The request for a wire transfer in the amount of $11,295 was sent to the office through email on June 8 and bore the sender’s name as the chairman of the Somerset County Commission. The move was finished on that very same day.
On June 13, the office was sent a second email that requested an additional wire transfer in the amount of $23,470. This request could not be fulfilled. As of right now, it is unclear whether any other county offices have received emails that are comparable to those being investigated. Some of the most commonly occurring scams have been discussed in detail below.
Dating and romance scams
Scammers use real-looking photos and profiles to fool potential victims on dating services. They will attempt to form a romantic connection with you through the use of these profiles in order to gain access to your financial resources and private information.
After establishing a good rapport with you, the con artist will approach you for financial assistance to help cover bills associated with a serious sickness, injury, trip, or a crisis in the family. Swindlers will try to take advantage of you by playing on your feelings and tugging at your heartstrings. Sometimes it takes the con artists months and months to establish a rapport with their victims.
Banking, online account, and credit card scams
Scammers will send you phishing emails or text messages that make it appear as though they are coming from your bank, another financial institution, or an online payment service.
They will typically tell you that there is a problem with your account and ask you to verify your information on a website that is a fake copy but looks quite similar to the real bank’s website.
The process of copying information from the magnetic strip of a credit card or automatic teller machine (ATM) card is referred to as card skimming. Scammers will connect a covert reader to an ATM or EFTPOS machine in order to steal the information from your card. They might even set up a camera to record your PIN if you give them permission. Scammers are able to generate replicas of your card after they have scanned it and then make changes to your account.
Fraudsters will try to trick you into making a rapid financial transaction by making it seem as though your cash is in danger or as though you are about to lose out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
According to Paul Maskall, who works as the fraud and cybercrime prevention manager for UK Finance, scam artists put victims under pressure by fabricating a false sense of “urgency, authority, and scarcity.” Their tactics are frequently successful “because we are preoccupied, such as when we are working or driving our children to school.”
Take Five is the name of an anti-fraud program run by the financial trade association. The campaign encourages customers to pause and consider their actions before handing over any money or personal information.
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According to banks, scammers are shifting their focus from attempting to penetrate banking systems to directly defrauding members of the public. Businesses are also being targeted, with a similar sharp increase to £74m in suspicious transfers unwittingly authorized by employees.
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Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received over 732,000 consumer complaints about COVID-19 and stimulus payments, with 72.5 percent alleging fraud or identity theft. Consumers have lost $778 million due to these scams, with a median loss of $415. Woah!
Phishing emails, social media, SMS messages sent to your mobile phone, phony phone calls purporting to be from tech support, scareware, and other methods are just some of the many ways that scams can be perpetrated. The primary objective of these types of cons might range from the theft of credit card information to the acquisition of user login and password credentials or even the theft of an individual’s identity.
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