For years, fraud, identity theft, and low-level scams have conned countless innocent people out of their hard-earned money. While technology has introduced a whole host of new security features to combat such threats, the abilities of scammers have also developed, especially by using technology to create new fraudulent techniques for money-grabbing. With technology advancing at a faster pace than ever before, let's take a look at some of the most popular and damaging scams around as well as some effective techniques that you can employ in order to avoid becoming the next victim.
P2P payment requests
Thanks to money transfer apps such as Cash App, Venmo, and Zelle, sending money to family members and friends has become easier than ever before. Unfortunately, this convenient service is being hijacked by scammers who are sending out fraudulent payment requests. Because payment requests can be accepted at the click of a button, many unsuspecting users accidentally send out payments without even realizing what it's for. In order to avoid making an impulsive mistake in the future, make sure to increase your security by ensuring that the app requires your fingerprint or password to release payment. Furthermore, limit your usage of these apps to paying family and friends only, not businesses or individuals who you are not familiar with.
Fake job frauds
When scrolling on job search websites like CareerBuilder, Indeed, and Monster, you may encounter some unusually high-paying jobs as well as WFH positions where little to no job description is provided. All too often, these jobs are posted by scammers who contact applicants for additional information. While some of them aim to get ahold of applicants' personal information, others look to extort money by instructing candidates to pay for bogus at-home setups and strange fees. Consider setting up a separate email address that you use solely for job searching as this will at least keep your information separate. You could also set up a free Google Voice phone number that rings on your phone but is separate from your actual phone number.
Local tax imposters
The prospect of gathering and organizing all of your sensitive payment information and documents for tax season is enough to send anyone into a panicked state. Unfortunately, all of the stress surrounding taxes can make it difficult for people to determine whether the next call that they receive from the IRS is a genuine one. Many scammers impersonating local law enforcement or tax collection agencies phone their victims asking them to share personal information or to send a sum of money to settle an existing debt. If ever you receive such calls, ignore them and don't give out any information whatsoever — real agencies such as the IRS only do business via mail and will never ask you for bank account or credit card details.
Bogus prizes and sweepstakes
Fraud.com revealed that this was the most reported form of fraud on its website last year, making up one-third of all incidents. Such bogus communications often take the form of text messages and emails whereby the sender impersonates a legitimate business and tells you that you have been selected to receive a prize. Often, they tell you to enter personal information or make a payment in order to access a special prize — a task that would never be asked of you if the contest was legitimate. In general, it's best not to even open emails that resemble one such situation and to never give out personal information via email, no matter who asks you.