Stay Alert. Stay Informed.
The best way to avoid fraud schemes is to be well informed. Some of the more common identity theft scams are listed below.
'Card skimming' is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card. It is a more direct version of a phishing scam.
Once scammers have skimmed your card, they can create a fake or 'cloned' card with your details on it. The scammer is then able to run up charges on your account.
Card skimming is also a way for scammers to steal your identity (your personal details) and use it to commit identity fraud. By stealing your personal details and account numbers the scammer may be able to borrow money or take out loans in your name.
- A shop assistant takes your card out of your sight in order to process your transaction.
- You are asked to swipe your card through more than one machine.
- You see a shop assistant swipe the card through a different machine to the one you used.
- You notice something suspicious about the card slot on an ATM (e.g. an attached device).
- You notice unusual or unauthorized transactions on your account or credit card statement.
- If an ATM looks suspicious, do not use it and alert the ATM owner.
- If you are in a shop and the assistant wants to swipe your card out of your sight, or in a second machine, you should ask for your card back straight away and either pay with a check or cash, or not make the purchase.
Vishing scams target consumers by "spoofing" text or voicemail messages that ask you to call a phone number and give your personal information. Here's how it works:
- You receive a "spoof" email or text message about suspicious account activity.
- The text or voicemail message will ask you to call a "customer service" number.
- When you call the customer service number, a recording will ask you to provide personal information such as account numbers, passwords, a social security number, or other critical information.
- The recording may not mention the company's name and could potentially be an indication the call is being used for fraud.
- You can also receive a phone call.
- The call could be a "live" person or a recorded message.
- The caller may already have your personal information, which may seem as if the call is legitimate.
Smishing is when consumers' cell phones and other mobile devices are targeted with mobile spam. The spam or text messages attempt to trick consumers into providing personal information. Here's how it works:
- You receive a fake text message, which may include a fraudulent link, asking you to register for an online service.
- The scammer attempts to load a virus onto your cell phone or mobile device.
- The scammer may also send a message "warning" you that your account will be charged unless you cancel your supposed online order.
- When you attempt to log onto the website, the scammer extracts your credit card number and other personal information.
- In turn, your information is used to duplicate credit, debit, and ATM cards.
- Scammers may also send you a text message again "warning" you that your bank account has been closed due to suspicious activity.
- The text message will ask you to call a "customer service" number to reactivate your account.
- When you call the number, you are taken to an automated voicemail box that prompts you to key in your credit card, debit card or ATM card number, expiration date, and PIN to verify your information.
- Again, your information is used to duplicate credit, debit, and ATM cards.
Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams
Lottery/Sweepstakes scams target consumers by a notification, which arrives through the mail, by email, or by an unsolicited telephone call. Here's how it works:
- The notification advises you have won a prize, but you did not enter in any type of lottery or sweepstake by the promoter contacting you.
- The promoter will ask you to send payment to cover the cost of redeeming the prize when the prize does not exist.
- In this type of scam, you may rarely if ever receive any winnings in return.
Check Overpayment Scams
Check overpayment scams target consumers who sell items through an online auction site or a classified ad. Here's how it works:
- The seller takes a big loss when the "buyer" passes a counterfeit cashier's check, money order, corporate or personal check as payment.
- The counterfeit check is written for more than the agreed price.
- The "buyer" will ask the consumer to wire back the difference after the check has been deposited.
- The check will more than likely bounce and the consumer becomes liable for the entire amount.
Other Fraud Scams
Phishing emails are fake emails usually pretending to be from banks or other financial institutions. They make up some reason for you to give your account details and then use these details to steal your money.
Scammers pretend to be from your bank or financial institution and tell you that there is a problem with your account. They ask for your account details to protect your money, but then use these details to steal your money.
There are many types of scams that aim to steal your credit card details, either by taking the card itself or by tricking you into giving them the card's details.
Spyware is a type of software that spies on what you do on your computer. Key-loggers record what keys you press on your keyboard. Scammers can use them to steal your online banking passwords or other personal information.