Thousands of people are bilked every year by criminals who enter the lives of their victims through their telephones. Here’s everything you need to know about phone scams — including some that take advantage of evolving technology like QR codes, and others that use coronavirus fears to their advantage — and how to avoid becoming a victim.
People who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus lockdown, or just enough of their income that paying rent became hard or impossible, may have heard from scammers claiming they could provide money for rent or legal help to avoid eviction — but it’s always for money upfront or in exchange for personal information. “Those are dead giveaways that it’s a scam,” the FTC says. Don’t fall for it.
Online Shopping Scams
The coronavirus lockdown brought a surge in online shopping, which inevitably brought a bunch of scams designed to take advantage of the trend. Fraudsters might contact people with claims that there’s a package waiting for them if they just click on a link or hand over identification information; and others try to pass themselves off as Amazon representatives (or, in a similar scam, as Apple customer support reps with concerns about users iCloud accounts).
Threats to Immigrants or Parents
When the Trump administration widened its deportation efforts from criminal activity to nearly any immigrant, that made even documented, legal immigrants feel vulnerable — and scammers will take advantage of that, the FTC says. The result: calls from people claiming to be U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement saying someone’s immigration status was being revoked unless money was handed over. More fake fears were directed at parents who have been sent photos of their own kids taken from social media, and threats of violence.
Debt Collector Scams
Just as the name implies, this scam involves a con artist pretending to represent a collection agency offering a dramatic discount on a debt you didn’t incur, which is often accompanied by a threat to call law enforcement if you refuse. Always refuse to pay a debt without a legally required “validation notice,” as well as the name of the creditor, amount of the debt, and the caller’s name, address, and phone number.
Grandchild Imposter Scam
As the name implies, the grandchild scam preys on the elderly, with the con artist calling the victim and posing as a grandchild who has fallen into a desperate situation such as running out of money or encountering legal trouble while traveling. “The scammer will then ask for money to be wired to a foreign address and then completely disappear once the money is received,” Lavelle says. “If you receive a call like this, always reach out to your grandchild’s phone number or talk to others who can clarify whether the grandchild really is in trouble and needs help.”
Other Imposter Scams
IRS, debt collector, and grandchild scams have been among the biggest threats, but the FTC also warns of several closely related imposter scams. Family emergency scams expand the grandchild scam to any family member. Online dating scams prey on people searching for love by establishing trust with a prospective romantic partner. Tech support scammers call to report a “problem” with your computer that can be fixed only if you download predatory software.
Source: Scammers are targeting your phone. Here’s what to watch for (msn.com)