I don't know if you've noticed, but impostor scams have been increasing recently. Whether it's with phone calls, robocalls or really anything that sounds fishy.
I know I've seen my fair share of these scams as well, although mine typically goes the employer and insurance routes.
These swindlers not only try to extort money from you, in a lot of ways, but they also make it sound like you don't have a choice. Although there are always exceptions to the rule, such as trying to get information or money through email for employment reasons too.
So what are those scams and what are you to do when you get these types of calls or emails? That's what we're looking to help you figure out in this guide.
What are the main three scams going around?
Although money extortion is nothing new, as people become aware of their new methods, the system changes and becomes more deceitful. Email extortion has been around for decades now whether it's King Albert, in insert your country of choice here, claiming he wants to give you $13 million and it's ready to deposit all he needs is your account number.
So what are the current ones focusing on? Well, that'd be the Social Security Administration, IRS, and CEO/employer email scams.
Social Security Administration scam
How does it work? This is a phone scam that if it's successful it can seem to come from the SSA office. They use a method called "spoofing," which means that these crooks can make it appear as if the SSA's customer service number, 1-800-772-1213, is a legitimate one on your caller ID.
So what personal information do these "employees" ask you for to give you an "increase in your benefits payments"?
- Social Security number
- Birth date
- Sometimes bank information
So how do you protect yourself from these types of calls? Simply put, if in doubt don't give them any information whatsoever.
- The SSA rarely calls people regarding their accounts
- If you have doubts, call the number above and confirm whether they truly need information from you or not
How does it work? These usually operate through robocalls to impersonate the Internal Revenue Service. You pick up the phone and an automated voice says something to the effect of:
“This is the Internal Revenue Service office of legal action. We are filing suit against you for unpaid income taxes. Please call our office at [California phone number].”
How do you protect yourself? Don't call them back as you'll just be calling the scammer and actually may never reach them. If you do owe or think you owe the IRS, call them directly at 800-829-1040. It's always better to call them directly than give any information over the phone to what appears to be the IRS calling you.
CEO/Employer email scams
How does it work? It's been reported that these con artists are sending emails pretending to be CEOs and executives in their companies which ask typically for sensitive personal information like W-2s. Sometimes the "bosses" ask for the employees to wire money to an overseas bank account or purchase a large number of gift cards.
This can also happen when you're searching on job talent banks. These usually start with a check cashing scam which often begins with email communication offering a job. But first, the job seeker must deposit funds to their bank account and ask for personal information over chat.
Often they'll ask to communicate the position with an Instant Messenger such as Google Hangouts or a conference call/chat with a specific access code. They'll usually communicate with emails not associated with their company such as a Gmail account.
How do you protect yourself? Do absolutely nothing and report the email to your manager. If there is a legitimate need from the company and higher-ups, your manager should know about it. As for the job search, report it to the talent banks the fraud.
What should you do to stay safe?
If you're not certain about a call or email, do an internet search and see if others have had this problem as well. Most of the time the text used will be the same someone else has received and will show results for you too.
If you weren't expecting it:
- Don't download attachments in emails
- Don't click suspicious links in emails
- Don't give out personal information
- Report the calls/emails if applicable
There are plenty of things to consider when dealing with the unsafe environment present on the internet, but the main thing is to not give personal information if you weren't expecting the conversation or email. Fraudsters are dime a dozen everywhere from online to your phone and mail, so be aware of the latest scam trends.
Watch out - Sextortion phishing scams now masquerade as security warnings
Sextortion scams are one of the most disgusting scams online right now. They convince people that they have incriminating or embarrassing evidence on them when in reality there is none. Well there seems to be another one making the rounds, and this time it has seemed to hit the corporate world. Tap or click to find out more.