In twenty years, when people look back at the year 2020, the most significant moments will jump off the pages of history books.
COVID-19 bringing the world to a stop and George Floyd’s brutal murder and the aftermath are the two biggest stories that will change the world forever.
Hopefully, both events will lead to positive changes, but right now, a pandemic and protests are considered “fertile ground” for scammers.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been warning consumers of online fraud since the onset of coronavirus. The government agency confirms that victims of scams have lost more than $13 million since the outbreak.
Adam Levin, cybersecurity expert and founder of CyberScout, spoke to Yahoo Life about the perfect storm of scams happening right now.
“The motive for scammers is, for the most part, financial gain,” Levin told Yahoo. “The means is phishing, spear phishing, vishing (phone-based phishing), or smishing (SMS- or text-based phishing), among other things. Anything that in any way touches something impacted by COVID, from stimulus check messaging to health updates. The ways in which online activism will motivate scammers remains to be seen.”
Yahoo Life broke down the most common scams going around in 2020. Here are four of the biggest scams to be on the lookout for in the coming months.
Stimulus payment scams
First off, the IRS will never email a person. They’ll also never call. But that hasn’t stopped scammers and phishers from emailing people, posing as the IRS.
“One of the newest phishing tactics preys upon people seeking updates on their stimulus checks, according to Levin and the FTC. But the IRS will never contact you by email (nor phone, text, or social media).
‘Anyone who does is a scammer phishing for your information,’ the FTC’s site warns. A phishing email may ask you to confirm personal information or even ‘inform’ you of suspicious activity or log-in attempts using your information on the IRS website. It’s all bogus, says the FTC.”
“Never underestimate the creativity, sophistication, or persistence of hackers,” warns Levin.
Fake Charity Scams
“During this disaster, there are legitimate organizations out there raising money to help victims of COVID and their families,” says Levin. “The same can be said of charities collecting funds for civil rights and social justice.”
These fake scams can come in the form of emails or text messages.
According to the FTC, telltale signs of a charity scam include “a sense of urgency, vague claims about how your money will be used, or even a message thanking you for a donation you never made.”
Be sure to check all charities against Charity Navigator to make sure they’re legit.
Fake websites claiming to sell PPE
Scammers are hoping for another wave of consumers looking for face masks as travel begins again or people stock up for the Fall. Protestors are likely looking to restock on PPE items too.
The FTC warns that scammers are targeting consumers desperate for personal protective equipment (PPE), and they’re setting up fake websites to lure them in—a practice called “pharming.”
People will place orders on these websites, never receive the order, and give up all their credit card info.
Fake job scams
People are looking for full-time jobs or even a side hustle. Many people are desperate to make more money. With desperation comes bad decisions.
“Here are some tell-tale signs of a fake job offer, according to the FTC: It promises you a job right off the bat, guarantees that you will make money, and often says you can work at home. If a potential employer “makes you a money mule,” as Levin puts it, or asks you to use your own credit card to cover upfront costs, it is most likely a scam, says the FTC.“
Check out the entire list of scams over on Yahoo Life.
[via Yahoo! Life]
Chris Illuminati is a 5-time published author and recovering a**hole who writes about running, parenting, and professional wrestling. Reach out to him on Instagram & Twitter.