Why are scams growing at a fast rate? The answer is straightforward–they are highly profitable for the scammers. Over 19 billion dollars was bilked out of unsuspecting Americans in 2020. That’s up from 8.6 billion in 2014. (Statista) Many of the scams are perpetrated via the telephone, however, these criminals also use email, texting apps, and social media to work their scams.
The image above shows a text I received about my Netflix account. At first, I was taken aback wondering about my credit card account. I immediately opened Netflix on my iPad — no problem. Then I checked my Netflix account on their website–no problem. Obviously, this text was a scam so I ignored the message. However, this message is disturbing on several levels: (1) How did these people get my cell phone number? and (2) How do they know I have a Netflix account? I am very careful when online not to give out personal information, but personal information is hacked and sold on the internet frequently.
The scammers want our personal information, including financial account numbers, to sell to merchandizers and less desirable folks who want to gain access to credit cards and bank accounts for their own use.
Another attempt at scamming happened to a friend. This time, a phone call informed her that it was time to renew her Norton’s account. Norton’s is a reliable and well-respected company that specializes in anti-virus protection for digital devices. Therefore, the call seems very legitimate, except…she didn’t have an account with them. The man on the phone insisted that she did and continued to try to persuade her to give him her credit card information until she hung up on him.
The reason that these scammers are so successful is that they are very persuasive and persistent. Also, they mask their efforts by appearing to be from a legitimate business or organization–Netflix, eBay, Norton, Yahoo, the IRS, the Post Office, and so on.
The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself from these criminals!
• Be a skeptic and be wary of any unsolicited message you receive from a business, organization, government agency, or person. Remember, the IRS and other agencies never communicate via email or text.
• Immediately delete any suspect communication and slam the phone down on robocalls.
• Any request for money is a red flag, even from relatives. Their accounts may have been hacked. Double-check!
• Go online and check for specific scams. I once received an email that my court case was delayed. I wasn’t involved in any legal proceeding, and when I googled scam + courts, I found many references to scams.
• Set up your own Social security account at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/. This way you can check on any activity with your SS account.
• Become the grammar police. Mistakes in grammar, spelling, and syntax in either the message or the URL window are a huge clue you are not dealing with a legitimate site.
• Talk about scams with friends and relatives that are not as tech-savvy as you are. Point out the clues they need to be on the lookout for.
Take these steps to keep yourself safe online.
You might find an article BoomerTECH Adventures recently wrote for Revolution Gray, “Scammers Come in Many Guises” helpful. It goes into more detail about internet and phone scams.