Scams can cost you big money
Image source: Flickr user Steven Depolo
Scams are a fact of everyday life and if you don't identify and avoid them you can lose out on big bucks. Many of these scams have been around awhile and persist because they're successful, while cutting edge fraudsters are always looking for new angles to work. In the second part of our two part series, we reveal the four top scams the Better Business Bureau and other consumer advocates are warning will be big in 2015. Be on the lookout for the following:
#4 Grandma Help Me
This scam preys on older consumers and is so effective because it's guilt-driven. It starts with a call or email from someone claiming to be a grandchild, friend or relative. They claim that they're in some sort of trouble. They may say they've been arrested, their car broke down, or that they were robbed or injured. They may call in the middle of the night to disorient you. They can get personal information from hacked emails or by scanning Facebook pages. They then push you to send them money right away to deal with their urgent crisis. Western Union and MoneyGram are common requests because they're untraceable. Hang up if you get this call. If you're worried it's a legitimate emergency, call a close relative to investigate.
#3 FBI Computer Lock
This is another scam that preys on your fear. Usually you pick this malware up from a website or by clicking on a link in an email. A screen shows up on your computer, usually with the FBI logo, and your computer is locked up so you can't get to anything – including your internet, email or programs. The screen says you've been browsing illegal websites (or something similar) and that you are a criminal. This is called ransomware because it hijacks your computer. You're instructed to pay a fine of a few hundred dollars via Money Pak or other similar money service. The message usually threatens jail time if you don't pay. If you do pay, they don't remove it, so NEVER pay up. Click here for tips to remove.
#2 Tech Support
This scam starts with a pop-up on your screen claiming to be from Microsoft, Apple or a name brand anti-virus vendor like Norton Security. It warns you that there's a problem with your computer and you need to call the number shown to reach tech support. Rather than it being a contact from one of these companies, it's a scam. They instruct you how to share your screen with them so they can “fix” the problem. Instead, they instal malware or some sort of keystroke monitoring program. This allows them to access your computer and take passwords, credit card information and other data that they can use to steal your identity, make illicit charges to your cards or even clone them.
#1 You're Under Arrest
This scam is so effective because it's so scary. No one wants to be handcuffed and dragged out of their home but that's exactly what you're told will happen. You may be told that you're going to be arrested for skipping jury duty or for failing to pay your taxes. The caller may claim to be from the FBI, IRS or local government. You're told to pay up immediately to have the warrant removed. They usually request a Money Pak or Western Union transfer because they can steal the cash and be gone with little chance for recover of your cash. Hang up on them. No cop will ever call and offer to let you out of the warrant for cash. And no government agency will demand that type of untraceable payment.
Be sure to also read part one of this series to know the other scams to be on the look out for in 2015.
If you're deep in debt, are living paycheck to paycheck and it doesn't seem like things will change without an intervention, call the law offices of John T Orcutt for a free consultation with a North Carolina bankruptcy expert at our offices in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Durham, Garner or Wilson.