Eight Red-Hot Scams To Watch Out For This Season

Criminals are constantly devising new schemes in their never-ending quest for your money and identity. Here’s a deeper look at eight new sorts of scams that are growing more widespread, as well as some expert advice on preventing them. 

Check out this list of today’s most popular developing scams.

1. Google Voice Fraud

You’ve put a notice online — for example, an item for sale or a plea to find a missing pet — and you have provided your phone number. In this scam, the crook will phone you, pretend to be interested, but claim they need to confirm that you are not a scammer first. They inform you that you will get a verification code from Google Voice and request that you read it back to them. What’s going on is that they’re creating a Google Voice account in your name. They allow them to commit frauds and pose as you, concealing their footprint from law enforcement, explains Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

How to Keep Safe: Never give out verification codes to anyone. You can regain your account if this fraud has victimized you by visiting the Google Voice Help Center.

2. Rental Assistance Scam

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s assistant director Deborah Royster warns renters to watch for rental aid scams as most eviction restrictions have expired. In mid-2021, over 583,000 older persons were overdue on their rent, allowing fraudsters to pose as government or nonprofit officials and collect personal information and money up front for applications.

How to Keep Safe: According to Royster, only legitimate rental aid programs administered by the government or charity organizations should be applied. Programs in your region may be found at cfpb.gov.

3. False Job Offers

Scammers get contact information and personal information from résumés on legitimate employment websites such as Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder. Then, posing as recruiters, the phone, email, text, or reach out on social media with high-paying or work-from-home employment opportunities. Sometimes the purpose is to get more information about you; other times, it is to encourage you to submit money for phony home-office installations or fees.

How to Keep Safe: According to Alex Hamerstone, advisory solutions director for the information security firm TrustedSec, use a second email account, especially for job seeking, and put up a free phone number using Google Voice that rings on your phone while keeping your actual number private. If you receive an unexpected employment offer, phone

the company’s human resources department to confirm its legitimacy, advises Sandra Guile, spokesperson for the International Association of Better Business Bureaus.

4. Fake Amazon Workers

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one-third of business imposter fraud complaints involve scammers purporting to be from Amazon. It is four times more likely for the elderly to lose money in such scams and are hit harder – losing a median of $1,500 vs. $814 for younger adults. “Amazon is the largest and most well-known firm in the [online sales] market,” adds Hamerstone. As a result, imposter schemes “feel real” to individuals.

How to Keep Safe: Ignore calls, texts, emails, and social media notifications concerning unusual account activity, raffles, or unlawful transactions. If you believe you have a legitimate account issue, call Amazon customer service at 888-280-4331.

5. Cryptocurrency ATM Transactions

ATMs popping up at convenience shops, petrol stations, and large businesses are the latest payment option for fraudsters. They pose as government authorities, utility agents, or sweepstakes representatives and instruct you to pay a fictitious fee, bill, or handling charge by transferring bitcoin purchased at these ATMs to an untraceable digital wallet. “It’s irreversible.” Your money cannot be recovered, says Lisa Cialino of the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation.

How to Keep Safe: Nobody from the government, police enforcement, a utility provider, or a prize promoter will ever advise you to pay them using cryptocurrencies, according to the FTC. If someone does, it’s always a hoax.

6. Local Tax Issuers

Scammers pose as state, county, and municipal law enforcement and tax collection authorities to get sensitive personal information or money to pay your tax bill. They may contact you via phone, email, or mail, threatening to revoke your driver’s license or passport. Some claim to provide state tax reductions.

How to Keep Safe: Ignore any such phone calls or emails. Real tax authorities, from the IRS to your local tax collector, do business through the mail and never ask you for passwords, bank accounts, or credit card information. They will also not threaten to call the cops or want money from gift cards, peer-to-peer (P2P) payment applications, or cryptocurrencies.

7. Gift Cards for a Friend

You get an email from a buddy requesting you to do a quick favor. She’s experiencing problems with a credit card or a shop account, and she’s unable to purchase a gift card for a birthday present. Will you buy the card and contact her using the phone numbers on the back? She’ll repay you. However, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises that an impostor rarely requests this courtesy. If you do as instructed, you will never see the money again since gift cards lack the safeguards that debit and credit cards provide.

How to Keep Safe: Call or text your friend to ensure the individual truly requires the favor. In 2021, the top cards used by fraudsters were Target, Google Play, Apple, eBay, and Walmart. Always double-check before transferring money; recommend the BBB.

8. Payment Requests through P2P

Scammers increasingly request payments using money-transfer applications such as Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App. It’s convenient – using your phone or computer, you can pay in seconds. However, these payments are frequently non-cancelable.

How to Keep Safe: Only send money on P2P apps for friends and family. Also, enable the security lock function, which requires you to enter a passcode to make a payment.