Identity theft and fraud are becoming more frequent every day as criminals devise more ways to scam consumers. These Social Engineering attacks come in many different forms typically initiated over the phone, internet or by text. Scammers often impersonate trusted officials like customer service representatives or utility providers with the end goal of infecting the victim’s device or gaining access to an organization’s network.
Here are some of the hot scams of 2023 and ways to protect yourself from each of them.
- Counterfeit Check Scam
You’ve received an offer from someone looking to buy something that you’re selling. The buyer/crook “accidentally” sends you a check for more than the asking price, and then asks you to return the extra funds after you deposit the check. In a few days, your bank will realize the check was counterfeit and will debit the funds from your account. If you’ve already sent the funds out, that money is gone forever.
How to protect yourself: Never accept blank checks or checks made out for more than an agreed-upon amount. Always wait 3-5 days for the check to clear. Educate yourself on the tactics used by scammers, such as a sense of urgency or aggression, and red flags that can indicate a counterfeit check.
- Anti-Virus Scam
The internet is a dangerous place full of scammers that can drain your bank account in an instant. With such sophisticated methods, the hot scams of 2023 can seem nearly impossible to spot as fraudsters pose as antivirus professionals from well-known companies. Some examples of anti-virus scams are: an unsolicited call from tech support about a virus they’ve detected that’s putting your device at risk; an unsolicited email about a suspended account because of a possible virus that can be deflected by a link included in the email that is infected with malware; an unknown pop-up appears on your computer screen with a warning that a virus has infected your device and you should click a link immediately for technical help or security software.
How to protect yourself: You can stay one step ahead of the scammers by paying attention to some very important details. Remember, getting around these pop-up messages isn’t always a simple matter. Sometimes even clicking the ‘X’ that would normally close a window can download malware to your PC. Be alert for signs that could indicate your computer really is infected, including a dramatic slowdown, new desktop icons or wallpaper, or your default homepage is redirected to another site.
- Facebook Marketplace Scams
What a day! You found that rare gaming system that you’ve been searching for on Facebook Marketplace, and it’s a third of the price! This must be your lucky day! More likely, you’re being scammed with an enticing deal that doesn’t really exist. Facebook Marketplace has become a go-to destination for buying and selling goods…and criminals who will use a variety of methods to attract buyers. Scams include setting up fake accounts that offer items that don’t exist; selling counterfeit or damaged items; and looking for personal information with fake giveaways.
How to protect yourself: Never deal with a buyer or seller outside of Facebook’s official channels; use Facebook-supported payment methods like Facebook Checkout to protect your purchase; never pay in advance; enable two-factor authentication on all online platforms; check out the user ratings profile for suspicious activity before doing business; never use a buyer’s prepaid shipping label.
- Romance Scams
We all know someone who’s made poor decisions while blinded by love. But what if these decisions were life-altering, irreversible and catastrophic? With millions of people using online sites to meet someone, romance scams have become a leading tactic for financial exploitation and one of the top hot scams of 2023. Romance scammers are masters of manipulation. Once they gain your trust, they start asking for money for a “good cause” designed to tug at your heartstrings. Causes include transportation costs to travel to meet you; a sudden illness affecting themselves or a loved one; an emergency that needs immediate attention.
How to protect yourself: If someone seems too good to be true, they most likely are. Recognize the warning signs of a possible romance scammer before going too far into a dangerous relationship and take precautions in the beginning. Try to use location-based dating apps to meet local people as opposed to people across the world. Research the person’s profile; go slow and ask questions; never send money to someone you haven’t met in person; ask to video chat and be wary if they turn down your request.
Regardless of the type of attack, the most effective method of protection is to educate yourself about the warning signs of social engineering attacks. Scammers will appear overly friendly and become aggressive when questioned or threatening when ignored; they’ll present offers for free items or subscriptions; they’ll create a sense of urgency.
You can also engage precautionary behaviors like not clicking links, opening email attachments, or entering passcodes from suspicious sources. Set your spam filters to high and use a different password for each account. Delete any request for financial information or passwords. Your bank will never ask for your username and password. And avoid using public Wi-Fi.
For more information on hot scams of 2023, watch for our new series of fraud videos coming soon, or visit www.fkc.bank/security.