As the year comes to a close, now is the time that many people look back and reflect on all that happened in order to get ready for the year ahead, and BBB is no different. Unfortunately, scammers stay the same from year to year and will continue to work to steal important information from people. To help consumers deter them, BBB has compiled scam information from 2017 to give everyone an idea of what to watch for in 2018.
The three scams that were reported most often to BBB’s Scam Tracker this year were phishing scams, sweepstakes scams, and government grant scams.
Phishing scams are typically committed using email messages that appear to come from legitimate businesses or known email addresses. They often use crude social engineering tools designed to induce panic and trick the reader into responding or clicking on a link in the message. From there, the reader is then convinced to divulge private information that the scammer then uses to commit identity theft.
Sweepstakes and government grant scams are usually conducted by phone and include a claim that the recipient of the call has been awarded a prize or grant only if they pay an upfront fee. People that pressure you for payment should be treated with caution, and if they ask for money through prepaid means – refuse. These payments are untraceable and money lost typically can’t be recovered.
While they weren’t necessarily scams, several news stories broke this year about data breaches of big businesses that customers thought they could trust. The Equifax breach and Paypal’s compromised consumer list are major events that have many people nervous about how their information is shared. The best advice? Make sure to keep an eye on your accounts and change your passwords periodically in order keep your personal details secure.
Experts are predicting that next year consumers will challenge the banking industry to establish quicker fraud and risk detection in order to protect their information against cyber thieves. Many of these large-scale breaches are caused by phishing scams; they’re a simple and easy way to gather a lot of profitable information quickly. Customer and employee education should improve awareness of the latest attacks and scams, so training is an especially important measure for business owners to take.
As you look back on your 2017 and think about resolutions for New Year’s, BBB recommends making it a goal to protect your personal information and step up your online security. Listen carefully to calls that request money from you, and update the software on all of your mobile and electronic devices. Keep a close eye on bank statements, watch out for pop-up ads, emails, and text messages from unfamiliar sources and research any apps before downloading them.
Keep up with the latest scams on scamtracker.org that are affecting your community and learn about methods to keep yourself safe by visiting bbb.org in 2018.
Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Tune in Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. with Scott Sloan on 700WLW for The Scam of the Week and every third Thursday with Brian Thomas on 55KRC. In the Greater Portsmouth Area, tune in Tuesdays at 8:05 a.m. on WIOI AM for BBB Chat with Chip Maillet and every third Monday on WNXT AM for Community Corner. Contact Sandra at (513) 639-9126 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 - to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.