Common Fraud Scams
Did you know that in 2018 we took 390 reports of fraud and identity theft from our residents? Through September of this year, we have already taken 324, and this is only a fraction of what is occurring. Below are some common fraud scams we have been seeing from the past several years and some clues on what to look or listen for that will help you identify that what you’re experiencing is most likely a scam.
Social Security Scam:
You receive a robocall stating your social security number has been suspended or that your benefits will soon end, this is not true.
If you get a call like this, do not press 1. Instead, just hang up and remember:
- Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended.
- The real Social Security Administration will never call to threaten your benefits.
- The real SSA will never tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on a gift card.
Someone Pretending to be the Government:
This scam comes in a variety of ways, but typically it is someone calling pretending to be the IRS or a local law enforcement agency threatening to arrest you if you don’t respond.
If you get a call like this remember:
- Do not give personal information such as name, address, date of birth, and especially your social security number.
- If you truly have a warrant for your arrest or the IRS is coming after you, you will not be receiving a phone call asking for payment over the phone.
What do we mean by romance scams? We’re not talking about the person you thought was “the one” but ended up being a dud. We’re talking about people you meet online, who lavish you with attention … and then ask for money. Usually they want the money by wire transfer or gift card. They might claim they need it for a medical emergency or to come visit you. Then they take your money, but there’s no surgery and no trip.
Romance scammers are hard at work wooing people on dating apps and social media. They may lift photos to create an attractive profile or even steal the identity of a real person. Just like with real romances, it may take them some time to gain your trust, but the scammer’s payoff can be big. Last year, people reported a median loss of $2,600 from romance scams.
How can you avoid romance scams?
- Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
- Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers. Check the person’s photo using your search engine’s “search by image” feature. If the same picture shows up with a different name, that’s a red flag.
- Talk to someone about this new love interest, and pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
- If you suspect a romance scam, cut off contact right away. Then, report to the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the dating site where you met the scammer, too.
Over Payment Scam:
Again, this scam comes in a variety of ways, but typically involves you selling something and the scammer pretending to be interested in making a purchase. The scammer will offer you your full asking price or even above to get you to take the bait. Then they will offer to mail you a check over the agreed upon amount to cover “shipping” and ask for you to send the remainder of the money back in the form of a cashier’s check, money order, or gift cards. THIS IS A SCAM, their check will bounce and you will be out the money you sent back and whatever you were selling.
How can you avoid these types of scams?
- If the buyer does not have reputable bank that can facilitate the transaction of provide a certified cashier’s check do not send the item you’re selling.
- If they are asking for money back from you, this is a scam, do not send money back.
Unfortunately, this is just a list of the most common scams we have been seeing, but there is a large list of ways people are trying to take you money or use your identity. If you would like to explore these scams and others, you can visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.