Watch out for These Common Scams – Part 1
It's easy to fall victim to a scam when you don't know what you're looking for. In this two-part series we'll review four common types of scams. Stay tuned next week for more.
Tip: Meet someone in person before trusting them with deeply personal information or money.
During this cruel scam the fraudster contacts you over a dating site or social media channel, gains your love or trust, and then asks you for favors or to send them money. The fraudster may also share your personal information or initiate another type of scam. You don't have to fall in love with the scammer either, they could aim to be your friend, or the grandchild you never had.
Don't be embarrassed if you think you have fallen for a sweetheart scam, it can happen to anyone! The scammer has learned how to be charming and to tell you what you want to hear, because it's what they do for a living. It's best to be honest with yourself so that you can stop talking to the scammer as soon as possible.
Computer Virus and Online Scams
Tip: If you suspect your computer has a virus, bring it to an expert in person.
If a message pops up on your computer asking you to call a number or contact someone by email, chances are it's a scam. The fraudster will tell you that your computer has a virus, and that they can help you get rid of it. Instead, he or she will give you instructions to install a "program" on your computer that in reality is malicious software. From there, they might steal your information, ask for payment for their "help," or control your computer remotely.
"If you receive a pop-up on your computer, or a call from someone stating they are with any computer security company, informing you that a security threat or virus has been detected on your computer and they need remote access to fix this threat, do not click the pop-up, and terminate the conversation if by phone," warns Thorsen Steen, Supervisor, Financial Crimes Investigations at BECU. "These are known scams and unless you have an established relationship with a security company that includes a remote service, AND you have initiated contacting them, it is not safe to grant remote access to any third-party."
Online scams may also involve impersonation of companies you're familiar with. For example, you may receive a text, online message or email from someone pretending to be an employee with a major company like Apple, Google, or Microsoft. You get an alert saying that you need to change your password. But, when you follow the link and input your old password, you give a scammer access to your information.
Reporting a Scam
If you suspect you've encountered a scam, it's important to report it to help the authorities and to get the word out to other potential victims. If it was a sweetheart scam, you should contact the police and/or the Federal Trade Commission. If the scammer impersonated an organization, please notify that organization as well as the Federal Trade Commission.
If the scam happened online, you can report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Here is a list of other places to report scams.