Every year that passes by new scams are developed with scammers getting smarter and smarter with new techniques and ideas designed to steal from us, and the best method to fight them is knowing their procedures so that you can identify the scams from a mile away.
So that is what we are discussing today. We will take a look at seven scam techniques that are either new or have become more prevalent with time. These scams are always internet and phone-based, and you need to learn how to defend yourself against each one of them.
Let’s get started, the first one you need to watch out for is a clever email-based scam. With this, the scammer will impersonate some high-level manager or executive, and they might do this by either hoaxing the email address or use the person’s real email account to send out the mails if they manage to break into the personal email account with a stolen password.
The scam will email multiple people at the company below the person they impersonate, telling them they need to buy a gift card, recommend it as a gift for other employees on your team, or whatever.
The scammer might tell their victims to put it on the company credit card account or to buy it themselves, and they will be reimbursed for it. And also, inform the victim to send the gift card codes to them for record purposes, then once the scammer receives the gift card codes, they will disappear.
Several people have reported this type of scam on Reddit who have either fallen a victim to it or come close to it. And it is probably going to be more rampant around the holidays period when the whole lie about needing the cards for gifts makes more sense.
This scam may be decidedly tougher to detect because it can be more personalized. But now that you are informed about it, you can easily defend and protect yourself against it by directly calling the person who supposedly needs these gift cards and speak to them to confirm it or talk to them in person.
The next scams involve a variation of a phishing scam, which has become very popular nowadays. The way it works is for the scammer to send out a ton of fake shipping confirmation emails impersonating Target, eBay, Amazon, or some other online store, and then give you some kind of login link to ‘track your order.’ But redirect you to a phishing site designed to look like the real site, which requires you to log in with your details, and they steal your details.
There is a lot of possible variation to it. For example, the scammer might come up with mails like “there is a problem with your order, please login here to fix it,” or your confirmation is required or whatever. They can personalize it by using information from previous data breaches to include your real name and other details in the email to make it seem more legitimate.
And it is more common during the holiday months when people make lots of online orders, so if the scammer emails happen to arrive before your actual order mail, you might not think twice before filling in your details and end up falling for it.
Now there are a lot of ways you can defend yourself against these scams. First, be highly suspicious of any shipping confirmation or purchase-related emails sent to you, especially if you did not make any orders. Next, remember that stores will include the names of the products you ordered in the mails to you, not all the time, but mostly all the time.
So if the sent email is overly generic, don’t click any links on the email sent to you, kindly go to the store’s site directly yourself to check your order status.
Number 3 method is another email-based scam having to do with an online store, but it is not a phishing scam. This particular scam technique occurs more when a scammer has access to one of your online shopping accounts details.
They can achieve this in many ways, whether it was a previous phishing attempt, or a stolen password database or data manipulation, etc. but that is not the point. The trick is that the scammer will order a lot of stuff for themselves using your online store account and your saved payment details with the online store.
And the scammer hides the fact that they did this by signing you up for a ton of spam emails, which protects the order confirmation email. Because usually, if they ordered something with your account, you would see the email and become suspicious if you did not order anything, and you will check it out immediately.
So they signed you up for a ton of spam mails to hide the order confirmation email, hoping that you won’t see the mail. An example from someone on Reddit who spotted this spam gave the case how they got a ton of spam emails from government newsletter, all from the ‘govdelivery.com’ domain. But fortunately, they still spotted the order confirmation email and was able to cancel it in time.
The way to defend against these scams is to become very suspicious once you start getting a ton of spam emails than usual, especially if it’s from one source, and go through all the emails, making sure that nothing is hidden in there. Because this is a technique, scammers may use it if they’ve already got you somehow.
Alright up next is a devious one, where ironically, scammers initially call a victim to impersonate government officials and informing them that their identity was stolen and used to commit a crime.
In one specific example, the scammer called someone and claimed to be officials of the Social Security Administration and informing their victim that their social security number was stolen and used to hire a car.
Then they intimidate their victim by saying that the rented car was found with a bunch of illegal drugs inside, and they need to comply with the ongoing investigation or face prosecution. They even had somebody pretending to be a border patrol agent sending in a report that the supposedly hired car was found near the border and was used for smuggling or all sorts of things to scare their victims.
Eventually, you guessed it, and they convinced their victims to pay or buy thousands of dollars worth of any gift cards, which scammers love these days.
It might not always be this obvious to detect, for example, the scammer might demand a wire transfer, saying that your bank account was compromised, or there is stolen money in your account, or you are hiding money for drug dealers.
The only way to defend against these scams is to know that the government officials are not going to call you regarding your stolen identity and definitely will not threaten you with prosecution by phone.
And, for God’s sake, the government is not going ever to ask you to purchase any gift cards. Seriously, I feel bad for this guy who lost a bunch of money to these scammers, and I guess he was under pressure, but he is still a moron for falling for it. Always be suspicious, ESPECIALLY when gift cards are involved, and you’ll not fall a victim.
Ok, the next scam is sophisticated and one that even the most tech-savvy of us might still fall for it. This one always takes advantage of a feature of all those online virtual assistants like Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Siri, and all others.
You see, when someone request AI assistants to call a specific business, they often will use search engines to look up the top results for the company for the customer support number to use.
Then they’ll either give you that number or call it depending on what you want them to do for you.
But this is the tricky part, and It turns out scammers have started setting up fake customer service phone numbers, then pays for Ads to promote these numbers or other sketchy tactics, so they end up near been at the top of the search engine results.
And I am not 100% sure how this work, It seems like these AI assistants apparently cannot tell the difference between an Ads and an actual search engine results, but regardless. The way this scam works is the virtual assistant will call the fake scam customer support numbers instead of real ones, then the phony representative will try to get you to do all sorts of stuff.
Depending on the company you think you are calling, they may tell you to install malware, or ask you to log into a fake website and steal your information, or anything else.
And the worst part about all these scams is most people will assume they are safe because they believe that they called the right company, it is not like they received some suspicious call, without them not realizing the number they called isn’t real.
So the only way to defend yourself against this type of scam is to do not use virtual assistants to auto-dial for you. Always do the search yourself, and make sure the number comes from the established company’s website, and never call a phone number that is listed in an Ads gotten from search engine results.
Alright, we still have a couple more scams to talk about, and the next one sucks because it has to do with stealing your money directly, and you don’t even have any control over how to defend yourself against it.
What the scammer does is get some of your necessary data, probably from a breached online database, which you cannot control, and then either email or call up your company’s HR department or payroll department.
They pretend to be you and tells the person that you want to change your bank account details or update where you receive your paycheck via direct bank deposit.
If the HR representative complies with it, you probably won’t even realize what’s happened until your next payday when you don’t get your salary. I believe you would not be on the hook for the cash. Instead, the company would be, but you still have to bear the stress of missing a paycheck and waiting for it to be sorted out with your employer.
These scammers are very smart, and the emails they send might look very legitimate. For example, the mail might read, “do you have a minute? I was hoping you could help me take care of something important. I need to update my bank details on direct deposit for payroll, can you get it done on your end?”
Depending on the email address and the correct information, the scammer used to send the mail, especially if the scammer has access to your real email address, that would be very convincing to work on.
I guess the only way you can defend against this scam is to make sure you keep your email accounts secure with a unique, strong password, and ideally use two-factor authentication at all times. And always keep tabs on your bank account details to make sure payment deposits arrive when they should.
The final scams are a new, trickier variation on classic bank phone scams, and they might even be used to circumvent two-factor authentication methods. What happens is that the scammer will call you up pretending to be your bank’s fraud department, requesting if you made some purchase, which you did not, and then they offer to block the transaction or account.
And they will ask for some information to enable them to carry out the work which by itself you might not think it will be used to scam you. Such information includes your bank member Identification, user ID, email address, or some simple necessary data you use to log in. Still, they will not ask for your password.
Then they will go on the bank’s website and use the lost password function, along with other information you provided.
With some banks, it will trigger a confirmation text message with a code been sent to your phone. Still, it might not indicate anything about a forgotten password and password reset in the text, so the scammers then request for the code sent to your phone, and might use it to gain access into your bank account.
Depending on your bank security system, they may already have enough information to steal money from you or not, or they may keep digging for more information, even asking for your bank card PIN.
Everyone knows you should never give out your PIN to anybody claiming to be your bank representative unless you specifically called them. Still, again the trick here is you do not realize you gave them other information that they can use in taking control of your account and steal your money.
So the way to defend against these scams is not new, Whenever you receive a call from someone claiming to be your bank representative, never give them any information unless you call the bank and use the official bank phone number on the bank card. And be aware that scammers can use seemingly innocuous information to scam you, so be extra careful.
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