In the digital world we now live in we can connect to anyone, anywhere in the world with the click of a button. Criminals are utilizing this technology to prey upon victims in an attempt to steal money or personal identifying information. There is no one that is immune to these threats. If you know what signs to look for when contacted by a scammer that may seem legitimate, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. The following are some of the trending scams we are seeing lately. This is not an all-inclusive list, as bad guys are constantly coming up with new ways to victimize.
PHISHING – Fake emails or texts seemingly from a known business, family member, or friend. They are typically trying to obtain your information by getting you to click on a link or send a response containing personal information. Unless you are absolutely sure it is a legitimate message, do not respond or click on any links. In fact, do not open the email. You can contact the sender directly and ask them if they sent the message.
SOCIAL SECURITY AND IRS SCAMS – The Social Security Administration and IRS will never contact you and ask you for personal information. They also will not threaten you in an attempt to get personal information or payment. If there is any doubt, hang up and then contact the agency directly. An automated phone call or asking for payment via gift cards, Western Union, or MoneyGram are typical signs of a fraud.
FOR SALE BY OWNER SCAMS – This occurs when the potential victim has something listed for sale by owner. The suspect will contact the seller and offer a significant amount of money more than what the sale price is. Payment will be sent in the form of a counterfeit check or money order and the suspect will request the excess funds be sent back to them or to a third party. By the time the check comes back as fraudulent it is too late. As always, face to face sales are always best. The North Ogden Police Department has a Safe Exchange Zone in the front parking lot. It is lit and under 24 hour surveillance.
SPOOFING – Spoofing occurs when the scammers hijack, or spoof, a legitimate, recognizable phone number which is what shows up on your caller ID. Suspects can call from anywhere in the world but make your caller ID show a trusted business or phone number. Again, never provide personal information or payment to someone who has contacted you. If there is any question or concern, hang up and call the entity directly.
IMPERSONATION – When you receive a call from someone claiming to be a friend or relative in trouble. They may claim to have been arrested or in an accident and they need money. Payment is typically requested via gift cards, Western Union, or MoneyGram. Take some time to verify who you are talking to. Either ask questions that only that person would know or hang up and call the person directly.
A WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST/MISSED JURY DUTY – You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the local police department or sheriff’s office saying that you have a warrant for your arrest, or have missed jury duty, and they demand payment. They often threaten arrest if you do not pay right away. They will typically request payment in the form of gift cards, Western Union, or MoneyGram. Hang up and contact the agency directly.
FAKE LOTTERIES – This is a form of Phishing. You may receive an email that claims you have won a lottery that you did not enter. It is usually some form of foreign lottery. They tell you that in order to receive your funds you must send payment to them for processing. This is absolutely, 100% of the time, a scam.
AUCTION SCAMS – Scammers will list items for auction on legitimate websites. Once a sale is made they will take your payment but you will never see your product. In an effort to entice a would-be buyer they may offer a deal, such as a reduced price or partial payment.
EMPLOYEMENT OPPORTUNITIES – Unsolicited job offers or “Secret Shopper” jobs. Scammers will use you as a means to do their dirty work. Make sure you check into the legitimacy of the offer before you sign up.
These are just a few of the scams that are out there. If you know what to look for you can minimize your chances of becoming a victim. Scam emails and phone calls usually just don’t look or sound right. If it is too good to be true it typically is. Always question anything where payment is being requested by gift cards, Western Union, or MoneyGram.
The following are some resources where information can be obtained or complaints filed:
Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov)
FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov)
Your local law enforcement agency