Fraud is everywhere and does not discriminate. Fraudsters are getting smarter and more sophisticated with their tactics. They seem to stay one step ahead of attempts to combat them.
In this article, we will outline some known fraud techniques and ways to protect yourself against them.
“A Sagamore Hills resident reported a case of fraud after an account with USAA was falsely created in his name. The account was never closed, and the resident was told he owes over $11,000.00.”
“A Sagamore Hills resident reported being the victim of theft after being scammed into sending $15,000 to an entity claiming to be her bank.”
“A Sagamore Hills resident fell victim to a days-long telephone scheme in which she was scammed out of almost $40,000 after an alleged law enforcement member coerced her to send money to resolve a non-existent crime.”
“A Northfield Center resident was contacted by their cell phone provider who claimed an iPhone was purchased on their account and they needed to change their password immediately so the cell provider could ensure the account was safe. The resident questioned the caller and logged into their account through a separate device to see no iPhone was purchased, and the caller abruptly hung up.”
The incidents described above are just a sampling of scams that happened during the last month in the Nordonia Hills area.
The first case involves identity theft fraud, where a fraudster uses someone’s personal identifying information such as their social security number, to obtain products or open accounts or lines of credit in their name.
How might someone steal your social security number? They can obtain it several ways: stealing mail or wallets, stealing information provided online through an unsecured site, personal records at work, data breaches, buying your information from an inside source such as a store employee with access to an application you filled out, or posing as a government agency, landlord, or employer.
Protect yourself & prevent this type of fraud from happening to you
Guard your personal information and question why it’s being asked for and what will happen if you don’t provide it. In addition, and even more importantly, is to put a freeze on your credit.
It’s free and simple to do, and it means you are in control of when your credit reports can be accessed. To do this, contact each of the 3 credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Instructions are on their websites. Once the credit freeze is in place, you can lift it to apply for new credit, remove it entirely, or add it back at any time.
The bottom 3 cases listed above involve social engineering scams. Social engineering is a collection of techniques used to manipulate a person into divulging confidential information or performing an action for ill-gotten gains. It’s a con, and fraudsters have turned it into an art.
Bad guys will use many different tricks to gain your confidence. They will tell you you’re going to lose something like access to an account, money, your job, your house, someone you love. They will say you are going to gain or win something – money, respect, love, valuables, what you’ve most wanted. It’s a psychological game. They use fear, greed, and human emotions against us to win our trust, and before we can think or question what is happening, it’s over. They have what they want, and are long gone.
They do this via email, telephone, or in person. Fraudsters will pose as your bank or another service provider, your boss, a government agency, law enforcement, or online love interest. There are actual apps that can be downloaded onto a phone, so the scammer will show up as the organization or party they are impersonating when they call you.
So how do you protect yourself from falling victim to these scams?
- Be aware of offers that seem “too good to be true”
- Don’t make instant decisions, take a few minutes to evaluate the information you’ve been presented with.
- Hang up and call or contact the organization back at a known number/email you have for them
- Don’t automatically believe the person contacting you is who they say they are. Most banks, service providers, and agencies will not call you if there is a problem, they will send an alert via text, email, or mail asking you to contact them at a known phone number that is on your statement or their website.
- Don’t give out any personal information via phone email or text.
- Avoid befriending people that you do not know in real life.
The future of fraud and scams is here. Fraudsters are now using artificial intelligence to clone voices and use them in their schemes. Anyone can obtain the technology that can do this, and all that is needed is a snippet of someone’s voice to make a clone.
These can be pulled from TikTok posts, YouTube, or anywhere you post a video. The cloned voice can then be used to call relatives claiming to have been in an accident, mugged or in jail and urgently needing money or a credit card number to get them out of the danger they claim to be in.
Imagine a grandparent hearing the voice of their grandchild on the phone telling them they’ve been kidnapped, and they need to wire the ransom money or else they will be hurt. They may sound just like that person, even in their speaking pattern. Hang up and call this person back at a known number. This technique is already being used, and criminals are only going to capitalize on this technology and pair it with other fraud techniques creating a perfect storm of fraud that will quickly grow exponentially.
Be vigilant, trust your gut, and don’t get scammed!
You may report any scams at the following links: