Be on Guard to These Recent and Emerging Scams
As scammers grow ever more sophisticated, it is getting harder to distinguish between a fraudulent call and the real thing. That’s why education is one of your best defenses against falling victim to a scam. In this article, we’ll round up some notable scams from last year and describe the trending scams in 2020. If you have any questions, our friendly staff is always happy to help.
Notable Scams of 2019
These two may not be new, but they surged in Vermont, New Hampshire and across the country last year. For a complete list of cybersecurity scams and tips, check out our previous posts on tax season scams, charitable giving scams, and identity theft protection:
- Computer Tech Support Scam: This one usually begins with a pop-up message on your computer, though you could also receive a phone call. The scammer claims to represent a name-brand tech company, such as Microsoft or Windows, and offers to “fix” the virus(es) infecting your computer. The objective is to take your money or gain remote access to your computer in order to install malware and steal sensitive data including banking information. Tech support scammers will also use a variety of tricks and coercion to convince you that you owe them money.
- Social Security Number (SSN) Phishing Scam: You receive a call from someone posing as a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee who tells you your SSN has been compromised or suspended for suspicious activity. Your caller ID may even show the real SSA 800-number. The scammer then asks you to confirm your SSN or to send gift cards to “prevent” your bank account from being seized. The FTC has a helpful recording of an SSN phishing scam and you should report scams directly to Social Security.
Rising Scams to Avoid in 2020
As with our 2019 list, these four scams may not be new but they’re on the rise this year:
- Romance Scams: People of all ages have been victimized through online dating sites and apps. In fact, the FTC reports more money has been lost to romance scams in the past two years than any other type of fraud. Read the article for signs of a romance scam and tips on how to avoid losing money to this type of fraud.
- Work-From-Home Job Ads: Always, beware of anything that seems too good to be true, whether it’s a low price on a popular product or an attractive hourly rate on a remote job. Scammers target job seekers on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other job-hunting sites, trying to get them to fill out I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) forms to “get the job.” In reality, there is no job and the scammer now has your sensitive information, including your SSN. You may also receive a large check with instructions to keep an amount as your first salary and send the remaining funds to a third party via a bank wire, gift cards, or other payment method. Don’t do it! The check is counterfeit and will eventually come back against your account.
- P2P Payments Apps: Union Bank’s UBP2PHub person-to-person payment service and Venmo each make it easier to split the tab among friends, but they’re also targets for scammers. Beware of any text message purporting to be from your bank or a payment app that prompts you to click on a login link to avoid an unauthorized transfer from your account. If you enter your login info on a fraudulent website, scammers can access your account and transfer money to themselves. NO financial institution or legitimate company will contact you to report fraud and then ask for your debit card number, online banking credentials, password, text message code, or other non-public, personal data.
- 20 vs. 2020: Law enforcement officials and consumer advocates are warning against the use of ‘20 as an abbreviation for 2020 on official documents. Scammers could add two more numbers to turn it into a future date, such as “2021,” in order to cash an old check or commit other types of fraud.
Where to Find Help with Scams in VT and NH
If you are the victim of a crime that occurred through the Internet, you should report it to the FBI by visiting the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Vermonters can sign up for Scam Alerts through the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program. You can also file a complaint or report a scam with the Vermont Attorney General’s office online.
In New Hampshire, the Office of the Attorney General operates a Consumer Complaint hotline and online filing is also available.
If any of your bank account information was compromised, make sure to contact your financial institution as soon as possible.
You can also file a police report with your local police department.
At Union Bank, we take proactive measures to protect the security of our customers. If you have any concerns about fraudulent activity on your account(s) with us, contact us immediately. We are also available to answer any general questions you have about scams. Find our latest blog posts here and check out our Security page for the latest information.