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  • Writer's pictureMacalister Bali

Debt Collection Scam, Phishing Scam, Tech Support Scam and More.

As technology evolves so do the scams and boy do they get creative. While scammers most frequently contacted potential victims using phone and email, relatively few people lost money from phone and email scams compared to scams on other platforms. By contrast, 91% of targets who were contacted by scammers over social media engaged, and 53% lost money. Similarly, 81% of respondents who encountered fraud via a website engaged, and 50% lost money. Here are few popular scams:

Fake debt collection scams

Similar to fake tax collection, this scam hinges on grifters pretending to be debt collectors and harassing victims to pay debts that they don't actually owe.

However, this approach was significantly more effective at fooling people than fake tax collection scams. According to the study, 38% of respondents who reported debt collection scams engaged with scammers, and 12% lost money as a result.

Hitman Scams (Seriously)

Imagine opening your email inbox and reading a message from an alleged assassin claiming you're their target. It sounds like something out of a movie, but it's been happening in real life to hundreds of people. The gist of the email is pay the hitman thousands of dollars or die. The so-called "hitman scam" is one of the most frequent ones you'll encounter online. The scammers use details from your life, harvested from your social media, accounts, etc., to create a sense of real danger. Avoid scams like this by safeguarding your personal information, especially on social media.

Virtual Kidnapping

This scam has been going on for 20 years, where someone calls and says, ‘Your loved one’s in jail’ or ‘I have kidnapped your loved one.’ But it is much more sophisticated now.

Virtual kidnapping happens when scammers research people on social media and find phone numbers. They “spoof” a number of a person the victim knows so it appears that person is calling. Spoofing occurs when a scammer changes caller ID information to hide their identity and make it seem as if the call is coming from a person the victim knows. Then the person alleges they are holding the loved one and demand ransom.

Steps before, during and after to protect yourself from this hoax.

Have a family secret code word: “Get a secret code word with your family that people can’t guess on social media. So say ‘If you have my kid, tell my kid to tell me the secret code word.’ Most of the time if it’s a scam they are not going to know the secret code word.”

Have them slow down: Stall. Tell them you can’t hear them. Ask if you can call them back. Keep them talking. Scams like this fail as soon as the would-be target realizes their loved one is safe.

Contact the victim: As you keep the person talking, text the alleged victim to see if they are OK. Because the scammer is only changing the caller ID and does not have the victim’s real phone, your loved one can respond.

Tech Support Scams

If you've ever received an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be tech support, and they tell you your PC has a virus that needs to be fixed right away, you're undoubtedly familiar with the tech support scam. Its perpetrators get you to spend money on unnecessary repairs and bogus anti-virus software. They also trick you into giving them remote access to your computer, so they can swipe personal information or install malicious malware. If your computer is genuinely experiencing issues, contact a company you trust.

Scareware (or Ransomware) Scams

Scareware erroneously claims your system is infected with a virus and instructs you to buy bogus anti-virus software to clean it. It preys on your fear and/or lack of computer knowledge to trick you into handing over your credit card and/or banking information. The scammers might also install keylogging software on your PC remotely, so they can gain more personal info and steal your identity.

To avoid becoming a victim, never open strange attachments, don't run strange executable files, and only download anti-virus software from companies you trust.

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