What you need to know about the latest SCAMS
Clients, have you ever been smished, spoofed, shimmer scammed, ‘like farmed', defrauded by tech support, or received threatening calls claiming to be from the IRS? Have you ever received an e-mail from someone you know stating “that is exactly what I wanted”, click here…. or “this is amazing”, click here?
Never, never click or you have been scammed! Smishing and spoofing over your cell phone happens with a fake text saying there is a problem with one of your financial accounts or it could be a message offering a low-cost mortgage, discounted cruise, free gift card, etc. If you respond, the scammer will know that your phone number is viable and may contact you to try and get more sensitive personal information. These scam artists may be able to install malware that can collect personal information from your phone. Number spoofing is a technique that uses a familiar area code and prefix to make it appear that the caller is someone you know. It could even show the call is from a bank, creditor or insurance company.
What to do? Immediately hang up, look up the official number and call it to verify the authenticity of the request. Don’t click on any link sent to you in a text before checking that it is from a trusted sender. If a text instructs you to “opt out” of future messages, DON’T, as any response marks you as “in play”. Instead, forward the text to 7726 which works for the major carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, and, Verizon, so that they can block the caller. Robo calls? Ask your carrier for help, who most often will identify such calls as spam.
What is a shimmer scam? This scam primarily worked with the magnetic strip on credit cards wherein a thin card-sized gadget could be installed on ATM machines and gas pumps to transmit the information from your card. Now that most cards have “chips” the bad guys cannot extract the data.
Have you fallen prey to a Facebook scam called “like farming”? Perhaps you have seen a post that tugs at your heartstrings and you instinctively click the “thumbs-up” or add a comment which will show up in more and more people’s news feeds. Once the creator has enough likes and shares, they change the post to an ad for a bogus business or not so good product you can buy on-line. “Think before you like”. Be suspicious and decline invitations from strangers.
Many of you have heard of “tech fraud” wherein your computer freezes up. A pop-up tells you to call a certain number and you are connected to a “technician” who informs you that your computer has a virus and all your files are at risk. The tech guy then asks for remote access to your computer, tells you there is a problem when there isn’t, then asks you to pay with a credit card for the unnecessary repairs. Sometimes they install “malware” which is a software intended to steal your data.
Recently, on at least two occasions, clients have called, panicked (after a phone call), that the IRS will knock on their door at any minute to take them to jail unless they pay some amount of money over the phone. The IRS actually knocked on a client’s door demanding payment and/or asking certain questions about the client’s ability to pay. The agent left his card with the client, so I went immediately to the IRS office and had a stern talk with the agent. It never happened again.
Above are only a few ways people are being scammed today. Watch out for con artists posing to be contractors, roofers, painters, etc. It always pays to be skeptical.
If you have been a victim of a scam, please share your experience. Many thanks for the confidence you have bestowed on Comer & Upshaw over the past fifteen years.
-Patricia Y. Comer
Attorney at Law
Hickey, Mary C. (2018, June) Consumer Reports, pg