FDIC lists 10 com­mon frauds tar­get­ing con­sumers

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Business - By Pa­tri­cia Sa­ba­tini

Scam artists have be­come in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated over the years, but re­mem­ber­ing a few sim­ple rules can be sur­pris­ingly ef­fec­tive at keep­ing your money safe.

One of the stal­warts is to avoid of­fers that seem too good to be true, es­pe­cially if you’re be­ing pres­sured to act fast or to keep a trans­ac­tion se­cret, said Michael Be­nardo, man­ager of the cy­ber fraud and fi­nan­cial crimes sec­tion at the Fed­eral De­posit In­sur­ance Corp., which of­ten hears from bank cus­tomers who’ve been vic­tim­ized.

In ad­di­tion, be cau­tious of un­so­licited emails or text mes­sages that ask you to open an at­tach­ment or click on a link. That’s a com­mon way for cy­ber­crim­i­nals to in­fect your com­puter with ma­li­cious soft­ware, which can steal your per­sonal fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion or spy on you by cap­tur­ing your key­strokes, Be­nardo said.

And no mat­ter how le­git­i­mate an of­fer or re­quest may sound, don’t give out sen­si­tive per­sonal data such as bank ac­count, So­cial Se­cu­rity or credit card num­bers or pass­words to any­one un­less you ini­ti­ate the con­tact and know the party is rep­utable, he said.

In an ef­fort to ed­u­cate con­sumers about what to watch out for, the FDIC re­cently re­leased a list of 10 com­mon frauds tar­get­ing bank cus­tomers.

• Gov­ern­ment “im­pos­tor” frauds. Th­ese schemes start with a phone call, let­ter, email or text mes­sage sup­pos­edly from a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial de­mand­ing an up­front pay­ment or per­sonal fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion. In the IRS scam, for ex­am­ple, the crook claims you owe back taxes that must be paid im­me­di­ately. “They might even threaten you with a law­suit or ar­rest if you don’t pay,” Be­nardo said. Fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies won’t ask peo­ple to send money for prizes or un­paid loans, and won’t ask for money to be wired, he said. An­other com­mon im­pos­tor scam in­volves thieves pre­tend­ing to be from Mi­crosoft or a tech­nol­ogy re­pair ser­vice and claim­ing the per­son’s com­puter was in­fected with a virus. They then trick peo­ple into in­stalling ma­li­cious soft­ware used to steal per­sonal data, and may de­mand pay­ment to re­move the soft­ware.

• Debt col­lec­tion scams. Fraud­sters pose as debt col­lec­tors or law en­force­ment of­fi­cials at­tempt­ing to col­lect bo­gus debts. Red flags in­clude a caller who won’t pro­vide writ­ten proof of the debt, or threat­ens ar­rest or vi­o­lence for not pay­ing.

• Fraud­u­lent job of­fers. Th­ese ploys of­ten in­volve work-at-home of­fers in which prospects are re­quired to pay money in ad­vance or pro­vide per­sonal fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion. One vari­a­tion in­volves fake part-time jobs as a “mys­tery shop­per” vis­it­ing stores and sub­mit­ting re­ports about the ex­pe­ri­ence. Or the job might be to re­ceive a $500 check, go “un­der­cover” to a bank, de­posit the check into an ac­count, and re­port back on the ser­vice af­ter wiring the “em­ployer” $500 to cover the check, which turns out to be coun­ter­feit.

• Phish­ing emails. Th­ese in­volve le­git­i­mate-look­ing emails pur­port­ing to be from a bank or other pop­u­lar en­tity ask­ing for per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. They may di­rect peo­ple to fake web­sites that ap­pear to be ex­act copies of real web­sites, ex­cept for a slightly dif­fer­ent web ad­dress.

• Mort­gage fore­clo­sure res­cue scams. Th­ese en­tail prom­ises to re­fi­nance a mort­gage un­der much bet­ter terms. They may in­clude sig­nif­i­cant up­front fees, or trick the home­owner into sign­ing doc­u­ments that trans­fer own­er­ship of the prop­erty to the crim­i­nal. Com­mon warn­ing signs in­clude a “guar­an­tee” that fore­clo­sure will be avoided and pres­sure to act fast.

• Lot­tery and sweep­stakes scams. Po­ten­tial vic­tims are told they’ve won a big prize, but must first send in money to cover taxes and other fees.

• El­der frauds. Se­nior cit­i­zens are a ma­jor tar­get of crooks try­ing to cheat them out of their life sav­ings. Warn­ing signs in­clude un­so­licited phone calls ask­ing for a large amount of money be­fore re­ceiv­ing goods or ser­vices, and spe­cial of­fers for se­niors that seem in­cred­i­ble, such as an in­vest­ment guar­an­tee­ing a high re­turn.

• Over­pay­ment scams. Th­ese typ­i­cally in­volve a thief send­ing a check for some­thing some­one is sell­ing, but for more than the ask­ing price. The scam­mer tells the seller to de­posit the check and wire the dif­fer­ence back. In a few days, the check bounces, and the vic­tim is out the money, plus the mer­chan­dise that al­ready may have been sent.

• Ran­somware. This ma­li­cious soft­ware holds a com­puter or smart­phone hostage by re­strict­ing ac­cess un­til the vic­tim pays a ran­som. Ran­somware is com­monly spread when some­one clicks on an in­fected email at­tach­ment or link lead­ing to a con­tam­i­nated site. The mal­ware can be passed around on a con­tam­i­nated stor­age de­vice, such as a thumb drive.

• Jury duty scams. A thief calls pre­tend­ing to be a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial warn­ing that the per­son failed to ap­pear for jury duty and will be ar­rested un­less a “fine” is paid im­me­di­ately. The caller may ask for debit ac­count and per­sonal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers, which are then used to cre­ate a fake debit card and drain the vic­tim’s ac­count.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.