We’ve been talking about technology, scams, and scammers themselves. I thought it might be helpful to go over a few terms so that we are on the same page.
Merriam-Webster defines scammers as “one who perpetrates a scam : a person who commits or participates in a fraudulent9 scheme or operation”. I’m betting you knew that one but did you know the term came into existence in 1972?
Phishing is the social engineering tactic that is used to trick internet users into revealing personal or confidential information (see Patrick’s the holy trinity) to use it illicitly. These tactics usually come in the form of deceptive emails, texts, or websites that compel the user to click on a link. Phishing is one of the most common internet scams.
Online Purchase Scams
If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Scammers will set up temporary online shops to look like real retailers. How will you know the difference? There are three clues. First, they will be selling expensive items at rock-bottom prices. Second, the web address will most likely be a variation of the retailer’s real address so be sure to look at it carefully. Third, they will not ask for a traditional payment method. The seller may insist on immediate payment, wire transfer, payment via electronic funds. And here’s one for the bonus round: A legitimate online retailer will provide adequate information about privacy, terms, and conditions of use, dispute resolution, or contact details. They will use a secure payment website like Paypal or have a padlock next to the url (web address) and a web address that starts with https.
I wish Amazon was paying me a ridiculously high hourly rate to stay home and shop on my computer. It just isn’t happening. Nor are offers of jobs before you’ve interviewed. Work-from-home jobs that seem to generate an extraordinary amount of money for little work are not real. They are simply a way to part you from your most trusted information – date of birth, social security number, address, email, passwords – anything that makes it so a scammer can impersonate you.
Short for SMS Phishing, these are text message scams designed to steal your information. The text gives a link to click or a number to call so that scammers can get you to try to trick you out of money or information.
I love a good Facebook marketplace deal. But beware of anyone requesting to verify that you are a real person through a Google verification code. The scammers are trying to set up a Google Voice phone number linked to your actual phone number. With enough information about you, they can pretend to be you. Read more about this scam here.
Identity Theft Scams
Another favorite of scammers, these thieves will call posing as some kind of government authority (IRS, Dept of Homeland Security, Social Security administration) and they are calling to help you out with your “stolen” identity. They often spoof a phone number that has a government agency name to appear more legitimate. Anyone who has had dealings with the government knows that you will sit on hold and may not be able to reach an actual person when YOU call in. These folks aren’t going to be calling you out of the blue.
This is when a caller transmits false caller ID information to increase the likelihood that you’ll answer their call. These scammers spoof local numbers (let’s talk about your car warranty!), government agencies and other name-recognizable institutions.
To read about more scams or to keep up-to-date on the most recent scams, the FCC keeps a nice glossary of current scams that you can read about here to educate yourself.