New Scams You May Not Know About
Alert: New Scams You May Not Know About Identity thieves rely on some common, old-fashioned techniques to get your information, such as stealing your wallet, going through your garbage to find personal documents, or sending malware to your email. You already know how to protect yourself against those scams: keeping an eye on your wallet or purse, shredding anything with personal information on it, and not clicking on spam emails or pop-ups.
But what about some of the new ways identity thieves are getting their hands on your information? With advances in technology, there are many new methods for criminals to steal your information. Here are a few of the most popular new scams and what you can do to protect yourself from them.
A “skimmer” is a device that reads the information on a credit or debit card’s magnetic strip. In some cases, identity thieves install them in gas pumps or at ATMs. Skimming can also occur in retail situations, often restaurants, where a server will swipe your card through a handheld skimmer before running it through the establishment’s legitimate card reader. With the stolen data, identity thieves manufacture fake credit cards.
Protect Yourself: Don’t swipe your card at any machine that looks tampered with or otherwise sketchy. If you’re eating out and are concerned about the risk of skimming by waitstaff, bring your card up to the register so it doesn’t leave your sight.
Fake Job Offers
The Better Business Bureau of New York flagged this as number one on its roundup of the top scams of 2011. You respond to a job ad, often a “work from home” type of deal, and are told you’ve been hired after a phony phone interview. Some of these crooks go so far as to create a fake company website and other flourishes to make this look legitimate. Then they’ll ask for a Social Security number for a “credit check” or bank account information “to set up direct deposit,” which is just a ruse to steal your information.
Protect Yourself: No matter how long or how grueling your job search is, do some due diligence online, over the phone and, when possible, in person on any employment offers.
Change of Address
A criminal can get billing statements, bank account information and credit card offers by completing a change of address form and misdirecting your mail. Not only could you have your identity stolen, but you could also miss crucial payment deadlines and other mail. Protect Yourself: Shred mail — even junk mail — that might tempt a crook (such as credit card offers) and pay attention to what’s in your mailbox. If you get a notice informing you about a change of address and you haven’t moved, get in touch with the post office. If you suddenly stop getting statements from your bank or credit card company and you haven’t gone paperless, call them to make sure someone isn’t impersonating you via mail.
Fake Tax Filing
As if filing your taxes isn’t stressful enough, some people get an unpleasant surprise when they find out an identity thief has already claimed their refund. In some cases, cybercrooks use stolen personal information to file a fake return, and then transfer “your” money onto a prepaid debit card. More rarely, victims get emails claiming their tax information was incomplete. The emails include a link that takes them to a fake IRS site and prompts them to enter their personal information.
Protect Yourself: The IRS doesn’t contact taxpayers by email; any such solicitation is a fake. An IRS notice informing a taxpayer that more than one return was filed in the taxpayer’s name or that the taxpayer received wages from an unknown employer may be the first tip off of victimization. Contact the IRS right away if you believe this happened to you. Remember, financial institutions, credit card companies and billing companies will never email or call you asking for your personal information. Don’t click on links in emails; instead, always go to a company’s site by typing in the web address. If you ever get a suspicious email or phone call, do not reply or hang up and call the company right away.
Source: Time: Moneyland