Top 5 Identity Theft Scams
Identity Theft is a problem that no one deserves to experience. Not only can this cause you a massive loss of money, but falling into an identity theft scam will also put all your data at grave risk. Statistical reports initiated by Javelin Strategy & Research discovered that approximately 13 million consumers were deceived by scams in 2019 alone, costing them 3.5 billion out-of-pocket costs.
Technology is evolving at a rapid rate. While it’s true that constant modernization makes our lives more convenient than ever, it also presents opportunities for people with ill-intent to lure others into their deceitful traps. The presence of different technological innovations can now also — in the same way — allow scammers to hijack your data so they can use it for selfish gains. Because of this, everyone is prompted to safeguard and protect their digital possessions better.
Aside from being preemptive and proactive, it’s also better if you have prior knowledge in knowing how to spot such fraudulent acts. This way, you can be able to prevent further damage and even have a huge chance at regaining what you’ve lost.
WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?
Identity theft happens when someone manages to steal your personal information (social security number, name, address) and then uses it to open credit accounts, take out loans, commit crimes, or even get medical treatment. The alarming thing is that once the thief has complete access to your bank accounts, all your savings or tax refunds won’t be safe.
There are different types of identity theft frauds that you might not be able to notice on the get-go. Not being able to distinguish fraudulent schemes as soon as possible only wreaks havoc on your finances. Because of this, we’ve listed down the top 5 identity theft scams that you should watch out for, along with what necessary steps you should take in case you find yourself dealing with such situations.
1. IRS SCAMS
IRS Scams are a common form of identity theft where scammers try to steal your cash and personal information. People who fell victim to this scheme have lost significant amounts of money, amounting up to millions of dollars in general. Scammers usually carry out their plans by using email, phone calls, or regular mails to set everyone up, including businesses and individuals to tax professionals and payrolls.
- RS DEADLINE SCAMS – Here, scammers take advantage of the October tax filing deadline. They often pose as IRS agents and will contact different taxpayers either through email or call so that they can steal money or data.
- IMPERSONATION TELEPHONE SCAMS – Victims are contacted to let them know about an upcoming refund. However, for them to access it, scammers will ask the victims to verify their personal information. Fraud IRS employees may go so far as giving you a fake IRS badge number, even changing the caller ID to make it look all the more convincing. This scam call would often ask you to verify your social security number, name, date of birth, and address.
- NATURAL DISASTER SCAMS – Scams are also common in major disasters, as fraudsters often try to target victims. Fake agents will contact these individuals to help them get tax refunds or file casualty loss claims while discreetly stealing their data.
It’s important to note that the IRS never initiates communication with taxpayers to request financial or personal information. Keep your data and money to yourself, and don’t fall victim to the scheme.
2. MEDICAL IDENTITY THEFT
An example of medical identity theft is medicare card scams. Fraudsters usually call seniors to offer medical cards and demand personal information needed for your card to be processed. Some would even ask for payment for the card, asking for bank account information to deposit a certain “bonus” for recipients. This is a situation similar to when Medicare announced that members would be receiving cards — an opportunity that scammers quickly utilized. According to the official Medicare, none of the above situations were initiated and were, in fact, scams. Always make it a point to call the healthcare company to guarantee if their offer is legitimate.
3. PHISHING SCAMS
Phishing scams are probably the most common identity theft scams often used by thieves. From then until now, these kinds of scams have been continuously increasing and don’t appear to be disappearing anytime soon. One of the distinguishable schemes of phishing scams is the email that seems to look like it came from a legitimate company at first glance. The content would also usually state a problem with your order and leaves a handy link that will help you “correct” the issue. It then redirects you to a fraud website similar to the original company, asking for both your password and email. Scammers then use this information to take hold of your account. Some scammers even go so far as entering your complete payment information and other necessary details.
To avoid this, avoid clicking on links provided on suspicious-looking emails. If you’re in doubt, directly call the company and ask if they sent you an email or if there is a problem regarding your order.
4. PRIZE SCAMS
Some people fall victim easily to these schemes because of the claim that they’ve won some huge thing – a luxury cruise, a foreign lottery, or even a jackpot. All you have to do to get your prizes is to “verify” your personal information and pay a fee for the shipping or delivery. Before you know it, scammers already have access to your account.
When it comes to claiming prizes, legitimate sweepstakes will never call you just to ask for your bank account over the phone, nor will they require you to pay for anything. To avoid prize scams, gauge first if the offer seems too good to be true, which usually is. Keep your personal data and money to yourself. Afterwards, file a report to the FTC so that you can identify the scammers immediately.
5. TECH SUPPORT SCAMS
These scams usually take place over the phone, with “fake” telemarketers to people impersonating credit card agencies telling you about a special offer you should avail of. In some instances, thieves will also pretend to be calling in concern of your protection, claiming that there’s malware or virus detected on your computer.
In this case, don’t let anyone pressure you into sharing personal or financial information despite what they keep telling you. When you get a call, it’s best to ask for the information in writing and then call the company back using the official customer service number. Through this, you will be able to confirm whether the call was authentic or not.