Updated: Sep 12
As we get closer to the Holidays you are working on shopping lists and organizing gatherings with your family, while scammers are working on new and creative ways to get you to bite the bait.
Now if you thought only the older population fall for scams, I’m sorry my friend, you are wrong, scammers have gotten more sophisticated than even the young and “young at heart” have fallen victim to lately.
So what are the scams of 2022 that are common but not so easy to spot? And how do you protect yourself?
10 Scams to Beware of in 2022
We all have heard of cryptocurrency, and although you may be skeptical many people have had great success with their investments in crypto.
But with every new and exciting venture out there, there’s a scammer waiting to take advantage of the buzz.
Avoid purchasing cryptocurrency at ATM machines in convenience stores, gas stations, or major retailers. These purchases are often untraceable so there is no way to get compensated for your loss.
Also, many have fallen victim to sweepstakes, prize contests, or investment opportunities stating they have to send money to qualify. The scammers impersonate celebrities and/or real cryptocurrency websites to lure in victims.
Red Flags for Cryptocurrency Scams
If anyone asks you for money upfront they are usually scamming you. No sweepstake contest, government entity, prize promoter, or utility company will ask you to pay money to get money.
We have all seen documentaries on Netflix this year about people getting scammed by their hot steamy social media lovers, well this is still a very common scam.
Most people that get scammed are using legitimate dating sites to meet people, so they let their guard down assuming they're protected.
The scammer usually uses a fake profile to set up an account on a real dating app and starts grooming you from the minute you swipe left.
If you are not the dating app type and think you’re safe, think again, within the past 2 years social media has seen an increase in scammers connecting with potential victims via dm.
Red Flags for Romance Scams
If you're in-person meet and greet is always getting postponed, if they ask you to send money, they require certain payment methods, and live so so far away you’ll never be able to visit them, they are 9 times out of 10 scamming you.
Love is not that hard!
Google Voice Scam
This one is pretty clever, if you have recently posted something online to sell, the caller will ask you to allow them to check that you’re not a scammer by asking you to await an email from their Google voice number.
They’ll then ask you to say the verification code that you received, you think that they are verifying you, but what they are actually doing is scamming you by setting up a Google voice account in your name.
What’s the harm in that? Well, they can now create scams and carry them out using your name as their alias.
Red Flags for Google Voice Scams
Never read or share your verification code with anyone.
Rental Assistance Scam
Millions of people are still trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
With so much money flowing through assistance programs, scammers have found a way to impersonate rental assistance programs, government or non-profit, to obtain information from victims, stealing their identity and assistance benefits.
Red Flags for Rental Assistance Scams
So how do you spot the fraud, keep in mind that most programs will ask for your personal information via application, most likely if you get a text, phone call, or email asking for your information it is not legit.
Next, you can not pay for expedited service when it comes to this type of assistance. If someone tells you otherwise, they are lying.
Last, avoid clicking a legit website through your email, if you get an email pertaining to links for official sites, as an extra precaution, avoid clicking and typing in the official site in your search bar.
Thinking about purchasing a home, watch out for predatory lending aka mortgage scams as well.
By now fears and apprehension about coronavirus have somewhat subsided, however, people are still testing to return to work, attend large gatherings, and/or take flights.
So here’s what scammers are doing, setting up fake testing sites to obtain people’s personal information so that they can use it to commit other scams.
Red Flags for Coronavirus Scams
Avoid pop-up testing sites by small and seemingly unknown organizations. Although some of these organizations seem legit, it is hard to tell so avoid getting testing at these locations.
Instead, get tested at your local pharmacies or clinics offering free testing.
In this scam, someone will call you claiming to be from your bank. They will tell you that someone tried to send money through your Zelle account.
They will then assure you they are handling the problem and to test whether they fixed the issue, they need you to send money to yourself.
If you do this, you will actually be sending money to the scammer's account.
Red Flags for Zelle Scams
Most people have their bank phone number saved in their phone, if not please do so now.
If you get a call from an unknown number claiming to be your bank, hang up with them and call your bank from the known number to verify the information.
Do not send money to people you have not met.
Employment scams are very popular and scammers have gone as far as setting up fake interviews to get your personal information.
They may tell you that in order to get the job you have to pay for training or courses.
Sometimes scammers will offer to pay you upfront for a service or skill, but overpay you in the check, asking you to cash it and send them the overpayment.
Red Flags for Employment-Related Scams
If you have never heard of the company, do extensive research.
If the company is popular and someone has called you, asking you to do something out of the ordinary, hang up and call the company back on a known number.
If a person or company has overpaid you never refund part of the payment.
Most companies that are legit will reverse the whole payment if they have made an error. Then they will reprocess the correct amount.
Fake Amazon Employees
I get emails and phone calls from these scammers all the time. They will call, text, email, or social post that your account has been breached by unauthorized purchases.
If you receive a call, text, or email stating this hang up and call Amazon customer support. You can also check your account to see if any suspicious activity has occurred.
Red Flags for Fake Amazon Scams
If you get a call stating that your account has been breached and they are asking you to give them personal information it is not legit.
Most companies only need your pin code, the last four of your social, or a security question to verify you.
Anything more than that, hang up and call back using a known number from the official website.
Local Tax Impostors
All you homeowners beware, scammers are pretending to represent your local tax office or the IRS claiming that you owe taxes and if you don’t pay they will revoke your license or passport.
They will ask you for personal information in an effort to settle that payment.
Red Flags for Local Tax Scams
Everyone knows that the IRS only deals with people through the mail. If you didn’t know, you know this now.
Even if by slim chance they call you, it will be in reference to a letter they’ve sent you.
If you receive a call from a government agency asking for your personal information over the phone, they are 99% of the time not legit.
Energy Bill Scams
This scam hit close to my heart because my electric bill just shot up $100 this month and we have not done anything differently than what we normally do.
This hurt so bad. If you feel the same listen up!
Scammers are calling you claiming to be from various utility companies, they are adamant about your services being cut off if you don’t pay immediately over the phone with them.
If this happens to you, immediately hang up the phone and call your utility company back using the legit number you have.
Red Flags for Energy Bill Scams
Most utility companies have your personal information on hand, if someone calls you asking for it, this is probably a sign that they are a fraud.
If you are behind on payments, the utility company will send you a mail correspondence to contact them to make arrangements to pay.
For more common types of utility scams, check out this article, “Common Energy Bill Scams” by Centerpoint.
How to Possibly Recover Fraud Losses
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do if you’ve been a victim of a scammer.
If they have stolen your identity, follow the steps outlined in my recent article, “How Identity Theft Affects Your Credit Score”.
Next, call your bank immediately. If you paid with electronic funds, the bank will refund your money if you explained what has happened.
If you’ve paid the scammer using, Money Gram, Western Union, or gift cards, you’re less likely to get your money back.
Major Take Away
Scams are evolving every second of the day. It is important to be aware of what’s out there and protect your identity and your money.
With the holidays right around the corner, people are getting more and more desperate. Don’t lose your compassion for others, but don’t let your compassion be your weakness.
Always do your due diligence when it comes to any calls, texts, or emails you receive.
Never allow the shame of being scammed to prevent you from taking action. Nurse your shame while you're striking back not in place of it.