As part of our ongoing series keeping you up-to-date on the latest identity theft, fraud, and theft scams popping up, we bring you a list of new list of schemes to be aware of.
The scam: Toll pass email
You receive a very official-looking email stating that your electronic highway toll pass payment information needs to be updated for security purposes or because it is out-of-date. You are provided with a link and/or phone number to give your current credit card information, Social Security number, etc.
Such vital information should never be given out in response to an email request, no matter how legitimate the request looks. When you receive an email like this, call the company the email alleges to be from – at a number you have independently verified – and ask if they sent the email.
The scam: Additional video software needed
A “click bait” video with a scandalous or otherwise enticing title is posted via social media. When you click on the video, you are notified that you are missing the proper software to watch this must-see clip. You are then directed to a different site to download this special video-playing software, which turns out to be malware designed to harvest your personal information from your computer or device.
Instead of relying on what some random post is advising you to download, avail yourself of the most popular online video players like QuickTime, Adobe Flash and Real Player. Makers of online videos produce clips formatted for these players because they want the highest number of people possible to see them. You don’t need anything beyond these few major players and periodic updates. Also, it helps to simply slow down a bit when shuttling around the internet. Think about what is you are clicking on and how well you know what you are getting yourself into.
The scam: Dropped cash at the ATM
A thief stands behind you in line at an ATM and waits until you your cash withdrawal has been processed. At the moment your dough is being dispensed, the criminal places a bill on the ground and tells you that you’ve dropped some money. When you bend over to pick it up the thief takes the money from the machine or from your hand.
Be wary of anyone trying to speak to you at the ATM. Common courtesy dictates giving someone privacy when they are handling financial transactions. Secure your belongings before responding to a stranger in this sensitive area.
The scam: Multiple cell phone cancellations
You are offered the chance to make big money quickly by starting several cell phone contracts, selling the discounted phones you receive to a ringleader, and then cancelling the contracts. The crook’s pitch is that since you are no longer under contract once you cancel the phone plan, you don’t owe the phone company anything. What you aren’t told is that you are required to return the phone when you cancel the contract. You are left on the hook for the fees charged for not returning the equipment. In other cases, you may not be able to even cancel the contract, which means you are responsible for paying for the phone and the agreed-to service plan.
Get rich quick schemes have earned a bad rap for a reason. Steer clear of anyone paying you to do something on their behalf. If it were on the level, they would be doing it themselves.
If you have encountered any of these or other scams, contact local law enforcement, your state’s attorney general office and the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.