We are seeing more and more scams coming through email and cell phones, to us and to our clients. It reminds us that we need to be vigilant daily, because one wrong click can lead to devastating consequences, especially as the scams are getting harder to detect and more damaging.
In this blog, we will discuss several common scams:
- IRS Calling? – Unlikely!
- Account Update Emails - Impersonating Popular Companies
- Smishing – Text Scams on Your Cell Phone
- This May be the Worst Scam to Avoid!
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Reported Fraud and Losses by Age
In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission received 4.7 million reports of fraud, identify theft and scams1. The graph below shows the Reported Fraud incidents and Losses by Age, showing that people of all ages are falling victim to fraud.
Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network, 2020
Each year, the Federal Trade Commission publishes a detailed report of all types of reported scams, and provides a breakdown by state. View the FTC 2020 Data Book. If you or someone you know, has been exposed to a scam, or fallen victim to fraud or identity theft, you can report the situation, as well as well as reference other tools at ftc.gov.
The IRS Never Calls People
You may receive a phone call from someone who says they are from the IRS. I’ve had this on many occasions and the people usually have poor English and sound like they are on phone lines that are far away - most likely these are scammers from foreign countries.
Remember that the IRS never calls people: when they want to contact someone, they mail them a physical letter. Know that if you get a call from someone who says they are with the IRS, this is a scam.
Beware of Fake Emails
Emails from popular companies such as banks and Amazon are likely scams if the email address looks like it is from another country, for example, ending in a .ru (from Russia). This could be a scam where the email is impersonating the company.
Be extra careful if the email asks you to click a link to verify your username, password or PIN number, and requests you to log into your account to fix something. Rather than clicking on the link in the email, replying or using any information in the email, it is safer to go to the website for the company and use your normal username and password to log in. Consider calling the company first to verify the need is valid.
Smishing – Scams to Your Cell Phone
Scammers are now sending fake texts to your cell phone. They often ask you to click on a link and if you do, something bad is likely to happen.
Professional scammers sometimes go through extensive training and are provided scripts that are known to be effective. It can be a relatively good paying job for a young person in a foreign country. They can use Caller ID spoofing to make the call appear to be a local call and often prey on older, lonely adults.
Remember to keep your guard up on your cell phone texts, as well as your email. If you get one of these texts or calls on your cell phone, you can block the phone number so they cannot contact you again with that number. The FTC provides a reference on how to block unwanted calls that may be helpful3.
This May Be the Worst Scam to Avoid
This is one of the most common and most dangerous phone scams to avoid - it goes like this4:
- The scammer calls and says they owe you a refund for computer software you purchased that’s been discontinued
- Then they suggest you give them remote access to your computer to uninstall the software
- Then they ask to log into your bank account to give you the refund
- Once they get remote access to your bank account, the scammer then steals all your money or locks your computer until they take all the money out of your bank account
We want to make sure you are aware of this and that it does not happen to you.
Always Keep Up Your Guard Against the Scammers
It seems that scams are happening every day. Just today, I received a call from a person that told me that I need to pay money on the extended warranty for my car; however, I do not have an extended warranty on my car. Then, I received a very official, but fake letter, from some company I’ve never seen before, saying I owe money.
It shows that we need to always be aware and careful - one wrong click can be a very expensive mistake.
The key is to be educated about the scams to avoid and to be on your guard every day.
Financial Journey Partners is Here to Help You
Our Financial Journey Partners office is based in San Jose, California. We have clients that live in many states across the country. If you have questions about your investments or financial situation, call us to schedule time to talk about your specific situation.
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1 Federal Trade Commission - Consumer Sentinel Network 2020 Data Book
2 Federal Trade Commission – Report Fraud and Identity Theft
3 Federal Trade Commission – How to Block Unwanted Calls
4 Hartford Funds - The Data Doesn’t Lie – Raise Your Phone Scam Awareness