As March is Fraud Prevention Month, Canada's Better Business Bureau is cautioning against most common scams used to con people. This can be relevant not only to Canadians but actually to people all over the world in our globalized age.
We all already owe the scammers for a grain of robust distrust as well as for learning never to give out any personal information.....
Yet, according to the Better Business Bureau, it receives thousands of calls and emails every year from consumers who have been bilked, fleeced and plucked by the inventive and creative scammers.
The BBB says the Federal Trade Commission estimates that Americans lost $1.4 billion to scams in 2012 and 2013’s totals are looking to be even higher.
"Some scams are widespread, getting a lot of people for small amounts," the BBB said. "Others are more narrowly focused, but take people for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars."
New technology over the past ten years is giving fraudsters new tools and the BBB says people need to be aware of the new tricks many are employing to target unsuspecting consumers.
"People may not consider themselves a likely target if they are already familiar with the scam," said the BBB’s President and CEO of Alberta and East Kootenay, Sandra Crozier-McKee."But with technology making it easier for scammers to copy realistic logos, business names and websites, it can be easy to miss the warning signs. Scammers are also able to reach consumers directly through mobile devices which can make it easier to fall victim to their tricks."
So here come the list of top scams of the past decade from the BBB:
* TOP AD SCAM: Astroturfing - This is a term for posting fake online reviews on websites such as Google or Yelp. It is a form of false advertising that can help to boost a company's public profile online through what is supposed to be an unbiased consumer review websites.
* TOP LOVE SCAM: Catphishing - A romance scam in which a fraudster pretends to be someone they are not on an online dating or social media website, for the purpose of taking money or personal information.
* TOP ONLINE SCAM: Enterprise Fee Scheme - An unsolicited request for modest financial assistance in exchange for a great deal of money. Scammers ask for an upfront payment to cover transaction costs, whether to "unlock" a larger sum of money or facilitate a transfer of shares. Either way, the fraudster keeps the fee, but doesn't deliver what was promised.
* TOP FINANCIAL SCAM: Affinity Fraud - It happens where you'd least expect it, with people you know and trust like religious institutions, colleagues or other association connections and even friends and, sometimes, family. The fraudsters' business is lying to people to gain their trust and steal their money.
* TOP SALES SCAM: Curbers - These unlicensed dealers get junk cars and then sell them from parking lots. Curbers do not disclose the vehicle's history to the buyer, often hiding its damage or lien. Sometimes, the car turns out to be stolen.
* TOP MAIL SCAM: Lottery Scams - The typical scenario involves an individual who receives a letter in the mail saying they have won $2.5 million. The person is instructed to send back money as a 'processing fee' and include personal details, such as a telephone number and birth date. The consumer's information is compromised and they are left empty-handed.
* TOP TELEMARKETING SCAM: The Unknown Caller - You may receive a call that your computer security has been compromised and that they can help you, or that your grandchild is in jail and in need of money. In either case, it is a cold call that has come out of the blue and is asking you to take action quickly and send money now.
* TOP YOUTH SCAM: The Insta-scam- Through a mobile app like Instagram, a scammer can post pictures of prize giveaways that look to be linked to big brands and retailers, but in reality may redirect you to other websites trying to get your credit card information. Users of the social media app may share or "like" a promo in order to fulfill the contest rules, but in reality they are just giving help to spammers and will never get a prize.
* TOP BUSINESS SCAM: Pretender Scam - A business receives an invoice which appears to be from an "authorized" service provider for things like online advertising, webhosting, website domain registration or trademark copywriting services. In all cases, the service is misrepresented and the business is often threatened that they will be put into a collections' service if they do not pay the invoice.
* SCAM OF THE YEAR: Celebrity Gossip Spam - Some of Hollywood's top names regularly make top headlines, which makes them ideal fodder for scammers to put out bogus content on social media networks. Clicking through a spam video or picture can often redirect you to an online survey that puts advertising commission in a spammer's wallet despite the content being non-existent or a fake. In some cases, a person may end up installing malware on their computer after clicking through the video content. Among others are the Medical Alert Scam twisting dollars out of unwary senior citizens or caretakers. The scammer tells the intended victim a friend or family member has purchased a medical alert system for them. Of course to get the "free" system the victim must prove who they are with bank account numbers or other private information. The system never arrives, but there’s a monthly charge it takes a lot of effort to end, and there’s never a refund.
Then comes the Auction Reseller Scam, which is booming due to e-auctions popularity. This preys on sellers on eBay and other online auction websites. The alleged buyer needs the product immediately and asks for same-day shipping. A confirmation email shows up from PayPal. But the email’s a fraud and the seller never sees the goods again. So BBB recommends – always confirm payment to eBay and PayPal accounts before shipping items sold, especially to overseas addresses.
Next in line is the Fake Friend Scam. Facebook users may occasionally get a friend request from someone they thought already was a friend. It may be a scammer. and if you hit "Accept" you just invited one in. Online identities are being stolen at an increasing rate to fake profiles. That can give access for information that can be used later to scam you or download malware to mine information about your other friends. The BBB warns about keeping your privacy settings high on social media and sharing any private information unless you’re certain your friends are your friends.
And the top scam in the US is the Affordable Care Act Scam. The fraudsters usually claim that they could help the victim get signed up, get a Medicare card or insurance card. But, of course, they needed a lot of private information before they could send the cards out. This includes bank’s routing number, credit card or Social Security numbers or Medicare ID or other private information.
Now, with this list in hand, you're more or less safe. But remember the golden rule – keep your most precious date private and don’t share it with suspicious people and organizations!