New York, NY (PRWEB) February 27, 2014
As Hollywood prepares to announce the winners of the Academy Awards on March 2, scores of consumer watchdog groups kick off National Consumer Protection Week that same day to increase awareness and provide consumer tips on how to avoid online traps where cybercriminals can rob people of their money, identity and security.
While with the recent breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, Kickstarter and the University of Maryland, there is no shortage of related scams, some deserve special recognition for being especially sneaky and insidious. Adam Levin, Chairman of Identity Theft 911 and Credit.com says, “This year’s ‘winners’ look like a season from the hit CNBC series American Greed*.” “What consumers need to know,” warns Levin, “is that breaches are the new normal and that means cybercriminals and scam artists will never be out of business looking to steal your precious identity and hard earned cash.”
This year's picks are a motley crew of scams that can get anyone while they're responding to an email, searching the Web, answering a phone call, filing taxes or even trying to find love.
And the envelope, please...
The Celebrity Scam: An online search for a favorite celebrity could expose people to identity theft. Be suspicious of links to free content and exercise extra caution when searching hot topics and check for URL misspellings. Remember, searching for Sandra Bullock could turn into a detour to a random site, that may end up being a cybertrap.
The Catfish Scam: When it comes to on-line dating, catfishers are out to make their objets d'amour the bait and steal people's wallets and hearts. Armed with fake photos and scripted lines, these scammers prey on lonely hearts. Always research the person contacting you. Check the photo and the profile. If there are inconsistencies, then don’t engage and never wire money to someone you have not met in person. Money can’t buy love, and being asked to pay for someone else’s expenses is a major red flag.
The One-Ring Call Scam: Scammers auto-dial consumers and let the phone ring once, hoping they will get a call back. Once the caller returns the call, they’ve got them! Those who call back are connected to an adult entertainment service or chat line, where they are charged an international calling fee of $20, with a $9 per minute fee or higher. Don't call back unknown numbers.
Tax Related Scam: Counting on a tax refund to pay a few bills or take a much-needed vacation? Beware; scammers are working to steal it. During tax season, taxpayers should look out for fake IRS phishing emails asking for personal information or shady tax preparers that promise inflated or quick refunds. Mind suspicious mail, file early and e-file tax returns.
The Obamacare Scam: Con artists call unsuspecting consumers, peddling fake insurance plans, claiming to work for the government or as a Navigator under the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. If an individual shopping for healthcare receives a call from someone claiming they need to verify personal information or they will deny insurance benefits, this is a scam. Customer service reps from Medicaid & Medicare Services, HHS, or Obamacare will never call a customer asking for personal information, like their Social Security Number.
Mr. Levin urges that in the “age of the breach,” businesses need to invest in better technology and security and consumers must be vigilant and always self-monitor. Levin advocates for businesses and consumers to follow his 3M plan: Minimize risks, Monitor accounts and Manage the damage. Scammers and fraudsters will always be around looking for a good “mark”, but every business and consumer can empower themselves by taking their security into their own hands.