Your Credit Union hears from members every year about a variety of scams and frauds. Many are new twists on existing scams, but scammers get more sophisticated every year in how they spoof trusted names and fool consumers. The Better Business Bureau compiled a list of the Top Ten Scams of 2014:
#10 Sweepstakes Scam: You’ve won a contest! Or the lottery! All you have to do to claim your prize is to pay some fees or taxes in advance so they can release your prize. This is not a new scam, but it is a perennial problem.
#9 Click Bait Scam: This one takes many forms, but the most notorious of the past year was when the Malaysian Airline plane went missing (“click here for video”). Other click bait schemes use celebrity images, fake news, and other enticing stories to get you to unintentionally download malware.
#8 Robocall Scam: The notorious “Rachel from Cardholder Services” made a resurgence in 2014. This scam claims to lower your credit card interest rates and takes personal information including your credit card number and then charges fees to your card.
#7 Government Grant Scam: You get a call saying you’ve been awarded a government grant for thousands of dollars. It may even mention a program you’ve heard about in the news. All you have to do is pay a couple hundred in fees by wire transfer or prepaid debit card.
#6 Emergency Scam: You get a call or email from your grandchild or other relative who was injured, robbed or arrested while traveling overseas and needs money ASAP.
#5 Medical Alert Scam: You get a call or a visit from a company claiming a concerned family member ordered you a medical alert device. They take your credit card or banking information but you never receive anything.
#4 Copycat Website Scam: An email, text message or social media post about a terrific sale or new product arrives. You click through and it looks just like a popular retailer’s site. But when you order, you either get a cheap counterfeit or nothing at all… and now they have your credit card number!
#3 “Are You Calling Yourself?” Scam: Scammers can make it look like it’s coming from anywhere. The latest trick puts your number in the Caller ID, which piques your curiosity and gets you to pick up the phone or return the call…and then they’ve snagged you in whatever scam they are running.
#2 Tech Support Scam: A call or a popup on your computer claims to be from Microsoft (or Norton, or Apple) about a problem on your computer. They say if you give “tech support” access to your hard drive, they can fix it. Instead, they install malware on your computer and start stealing your personal information.
And the top Scam of the Year, because it’s just so terrifying, is:
#1 Arrest Scam: You receive an ominous phone call from someone claiming to be a police officer or government agent (often the IRS in the United States or the CRA in Canada). They are coming to arrest you for overdue taxes or for skipping out on jury duty…but you can avoid it by sending them money via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. For more information visit go.bbb.org/top-scams-2014.
Be safe out there!