1. OTP Robot Scams
This scam involves automatic robocalls and texts. These scams are designed to trick you into sharing the two-factor authentication codes sent from financial institutions or online companies. The bot sends you a fake text or call that appears to be official and asks you to authorize a fake charge. The robot prompts you to enter the authorization code you’ve just been sent if the transaction is NOT yours. What’s really happening is that the bot is trying to access your account and needs the authentication code that was sent to protect it.
It’s always important to verify the validity of a text or phone call, especially if it relates to your finances. Never give out your password, even if it is requested for security purposes. If you are ever in doubt about a possible scam, hang up and call the institution directly at a verified phone number.
2. Fake Merchandise Scams
Whenever you are buying something online, there’s a chance that it might not really exist. Scammers create dozens of fake listings to trick unsuspecting consumers into sending money. As soon as someone expresses an interest in purchasing one of their fake items, they ask for payment through a non-refundable service. Then they take down the listing as soon as they receive the money, and the buyer is left holding the bag.
Protect yourself from these common scams by only sending money when you have received the product or service. And if you’re buying something sight unseen, use a payment method that has buyer protection. Walk away from any transactions that appear fishy, especially if a conversation with the seller makes you suspicious.
3. Overpayment Scams
Overpayment scams are common when someone pays with a cashier’s check or an electronic transfer. They overpay, claiming it was an accident, and ask you to send back the difference. They might even suggest you send the money back through a peer-to-peer money service, stating that “it will be easier and quicker”. Really, they just want access to your money. As soon as you make the transfer, the scammer reverses their original transaction.
If you are overpaid, you can protect yourself by insisting that the buyer must contact their bank to have the transaction reversed. Don’t send them money through another means, especially if they continue to press you. Hold strong and let them resolve the situation.
4. Business Email Compromise
Business Email Compromise (BEC) occurs when someone gains illegal access to a company’s email account. They often gain access through a phishing email where an employee clicks a bad link or leaks their username and password. Once the criminal has access to the email account, they use it to amplify their scam. They go through the list of customers and contacts, sending out malicious emails that request immediate money transfers or contain more malicious links. These scams are especially damaging because they take advantage of customers and hurt the affected company’s reputation.
As a consumer, you can protect yourself from BEC by paying attention to the emails that have been sent by the businesses and officials that you know. Keep an eye out for unusual requests, as well as red flags (LINK???) that indicates that it might not be legitimate. If they are asking for money urgently, or are trying to make you click a link, it might be a scam. Always hover over any email links to see where it’s really taking you, and don’t click it if you don’t recognize the address. If you’re in doubt about an email, contact the business or individual with a phone call to verify before acting.
As a business, you can protect yourself from BEC by keeping your passwords secure. Train your employees to spot scam emails and have them report anything suspicious. If you recognize that you have become the victim of BEC, inform your customers and contacts immediately so that they know to disregard any emails sent from your company. Keeping a backup list of contacts that you can quickly notify will help keep your customers and your business safe.
5. Fake “Work from Home” Scams
The increase in remote jobs has also created a perfect environment for scammers. These scams involve fake job listings online, promising remote work positions at companies that don’t exist. The application process seems legitimate at first, but then the scam begins when they ask you to buy specific tools or materials to work the position. After you order the materials, the company stops communicating and the materials never arrive.
Always verify that a company exists before accepting a position with them. If they urge you to buy specific materials for the job, make sure that they are legitimate before proceeding.
6. Investment Scams
Scams involving investments and cryptocurrencies are becoming more and more prevalent. Often these scams originate from online contacts met on social media or dating sites. The scammer builds a relationship with their target, establishing trust over time. Once the scammer feels comfortable, they start talking up their latest investment, claiming outrageous returns at no risk, and pushing their target to invest in this limited time opportunity. They might offer to handle the investments themselves, or direct their mark to a fake website that they have created. To encourage their target to invest more, they share fake reports that show the investments are doing well. In truth, there are no investments. The scammer is simply pocketing the money and running the scam for as long as they can.
Protect yourself from investment scams by only investing with reputable companies. Disregard any sellers who promise immediate or unrealistic returns or encourage you to invest in unknown cryptocurrencies. Keeping your investments balanced is a great way to build your wealth comfortably and safely.
There are many scams out there in 2023, some new and many old. Keep yourself protected by using common sense, slowing down, and avoiding deals that seem too good to be true. Most of the people out there are not looking to scam you but staying vigilant against scammers will prevent you from become the next victim.
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