While we often think that it is only seniors that are targeted by scammers and fraudsters, it is important to be aware that anyone can become a target and incur financial loss. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the largest demographic of victims of cybercrime were aged 30-39, followed by victims aged 40-49. By keeping informed and up to date, you can protect yourself from becoming one of the nearly 2.4 million people who are scammed annually.
As more and more people are looking for love online, romance scams have become more prevalent. Norton estimates that in 2023, there are approximately 57 million people using dating apps.
Regardless of the type of romance scam, most scams consist of a cybercriminal creating a fake profile using a photo of an attractive individual. They seek out someone to target and begin a fast-paced relationship. Once the victim is emotionally invested, the cybercriminal will ask for money. Often there is a story about an emergency or tragedy that compels the victim to send money, gift cards or cryptocurrency. Once payment is received, the fraudster disappears and moves on to the next victim.
People who are recently widowed, divorced or otherwise lonely may be ripe for the picking when it comes to these types of scams. Be aware of red flags including someone who is interested in a long-distance relationship, someone who has a reason they cannot meet you in person, or someone who quickly professes love without meeting you. Don’t share anything too personal, including compromising photos that might haunt you later. Never buy plane tickets, gift cards, or send money to a person you have never met in person. When in doubt, ask someone you trust for a second opinion about the situation.
If you are like most grandparents, you would do just about anything to help your grandchildren, especially if you feel they are in trouble or danger. In a grandparent scam, fraudsters use social media to gather information about your family. The cybercriminal then places a phone call or email impersonating a family member stating they are injured or arrested and need money immediately. They often insist that they don’t want you to call their parents. They may pass the phone to a “hospital employee” or “attorney” who can take your payment over the phone.
Grandparent scams are not new, however advancements in technology can make these more sophisticated and believable and have widened the target market beyond seniors. Artificial intelligence technology allows for scammers to even replicate a voice.
Phishing is when scammers create emails or text messages to trick you into providing your personal information including passwords, account numbers and Social Security numbers. It is common that these emails and text messages are compelling and may even use the logos of real companies that you are doing legitimate business with. They may request that you click on a link to go to their website which may install invasive software called malware onto your computer.
With these scams, the devil is really in the detail. If you look closely at these, you may notice inconsistencies that will alert you that it is a scam. Be on the lookout for emails from companies you don’t do business with, emails with generic greetings, questionable email addresses, a link to update your payment information, or anything else that looks suspicious. Don’t call the number on the email to verify the request. Instead, compare it to your statement or do a reverse lookup on the number to see if it comes up as a spam number.
With the rise in interest in cryptocurrencies, many people are asking how they begin to use and invest in crypto. Because there is so much confusion about what it is and how to use it, cryptocurrency scams are on the rise. If you are going to use cryptocurrency, it is important to know about what scams are gaining popularity and how to avoid them. Some good rules to follow are to never do business with someone demanding payment in crypto. No legitimate business will only offer this method of payment. If someone wants you to invest in crypto, be on alert. Scammers often guarantee big profits and fast profits. If someone is making a promise that seems too good to be true, it is. Be aware that cryptocurrency scams are commonly found on dating websites.
Most scammers will cast a wide net of potential victims hoping for a small number of people to fall for it. The more informed you are, the less likely you are to fall victim. Keep updated on the latest scams by subscribing to Consumer Alerts at consumer.ftc.gov.
Remember, to guard your identity. Never give credit card information, or provide personal information such as address, social security number or date of birth to someone calling you. Never allow someone claiming to be tech support to establish a remote connection to your computer. Don’t click on pop up messages while online and keep your security software up to date on devices. Understand that places like the IRS and Social Security Administration will not attempt to call you asking for personal information. If you come across a scam, report it. File a report with local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission.
If you are questioning if something is a scam, it probably is. In this case, the best scenario is to shut down the situation immediately, then report it. Although it can be scary, in most cases, if you haven’t given up any information, a fraud situation is likely avoided.
Investment Advisor Representative
Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University.
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