New frauds and scams seem to crop up weekly. Identity theft and other scams rob millions of Americans of their hard-earned money. Last year alone, Americans lost $18 billion dollars to fraud and scams. In fact, every two seconds, a con artist steals someone’s identity.
What tricks do con artists use to steal your money? How can you outsmart scammers before they strike? Beat the con artists at their game. Check out this month’s scam alerts and don’t get taken in with the fraudsters’ tricks.
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So, here are some more frauds and scams which may be coming to you!
Social Security Scams
Acting Inspector General of Social Security – Gale Stallworth Stone – is warning citizens about phone call scams in which impersonators are copying SSA’s 1-800 number so it appears as a legitimate call on a caller-ID screen.
These scammers identify themselves as SSA employees, request a person’s Social Security number, and threaten to terminate the person’s benefits.
If you receive a call like this, do NOT provide any personal information. Instead report this scheme by calling 1 800 269 0271 or by visiting the SSA Office of Inspector General’s website.
W-2 and Tax Scams
As the tax season approaches, individuals – and small businesses – need to be cautious of identity theft. Thieves use stolen Employer Identification numbers to create fake W-2 forms to file with fraudulent individual tax returns.
Fraudsters also use these to open new lines of credit or obtain credit cards. Now, they are using company names to file fraudulent returns. Employers are warned to look out for emails asking for sensitive W-2 information.
New college students are receiving admission letters and scholarships this time of year. Among the letters from universities, many students may also receive offers for alleged student loans, scholarships, financial aid, and job offers.
Some will charge a fee for things you could do yourself – like filling out college applications, writing college essays, filling out the FAFSA financial aid form, or completing job applications. Whether they end up providing the service once you’ve paid is questionable.
If you hear any promotion of “just give us money and we’ll do the rest,” know that this is likely a scam. While some of the forms and applications can be difficult to complete, it is best to protect your personal information and fill them out yourself, or with someone representing a reputable company.
Telephone scammers try to trick you out of your money or personal information by using a variety of tactics. They might offer or promise money, fake products or trips. Or threaten arrest if you don’t pay them.
The best way to protect yourself is to hang up on these callers and ignore their messages.
You can also register for the national Do Not Call Registry – 1 888 382 1222 or www.donotcall.gov – and check with your telephone company about additional call blocking options.
Like many online stores, the potential for fraud on popular shopping sites such as Amazon does exist. While Amazon and other online sites may be trustworthy, buyers should still be wary of online traction scams.
In a recent statement, Amazon addressed an issue with a phishing email that asks for personal information or account information ….. including credit card details. The links provided in the email leads unsuspecting shoppers to a phony Amazon page that looks legitimate.
Amazon has urged buyers to log in directly to amazon.com if they receive emails about their personal emails as Amazon states it will never email you about these account matters.
Get more information on frauds and scams at AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. Sign up for Watchdog Alerts and stay alert on con artist’s latest tricks. It’s free of charge for everyone – AARP members, non-members, general public and people of all ages.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.