New twists on older scams and classic ploys that won’t go away — consumers must be constantly vigilant to avoid scams!
According to the Federal Trade Commission, new data shows consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to scams in 2022. The agency received 2.4 million fraud reports from consumers, with the most commonly reported being imposter scams, followed by online shopping scams. Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries; investment-related reports; and business and job opportunities rounded out the top five fraud categories.
The Let Joe Know team is breaking down three big scams to help you avoid falling victim.
One-time password bot scam
Scammers use bots — automated programs — to trick people into sharing two-factor authentication codes sent to them via text or email from financial institutions or other legitimate companies. The bot will make a robocall or send a text that appears to come from a legitimate source, asking you to authorize a charge. Then it asks you to enter the authentication code you’ve just been sent if the transaction is not yours. The bot’s goal is to log into your bank or company account and it needs the code to get access.
It happened to Let Joe Know viewer Jeff. He says thousands of dollars were wired out of his bank account after a scammer posed as an employee with the fraud department. The scammer gained access to Jeff’s account before he realized the actual bank had not reached out to him.
If you get an unsolicited call or text regarding possible fraud or an account issue, immediately call the bank or company yourself using the phone number on their website to verify if they have reached out to you. Never share authentication codes or provide other information in response to unsolicited calls or texts.
Phishing email scam
Phishing emails have gotten a high-tech upgrade and can look very convincing. Let Joe Know viewer Cassandra received what appeared to be a money request from PayPal. The email was a request from “Joseph Myers” for nearly $600 for a Google Pixel purchase. Cassandra says she uses PayPal exclusively for family, she never bought a Google Pixel, and does not know a Joseph Myers.
“Either someone is sending this to every PayPal account in an attempt to try to get someone to say, ‘oh, payment request? Sure, I’ll just go ahead and hit accept,’ or I was directly targeted,” Cassandra worried.
She has a background in technology and on closer inspection, spotted the email for what it was — a fake.
When she looked closer, Cassandra noticed the email was not sent to her individual email, but to a mass email group. The links and customer service number on the email did not match the one on PayPal’s website. Cassandra didn’t call or click anything. She reported the incident to PayPal.
If you receive an email that seems suspicious, trust that feeling. Don’t click on links or call the number given in emails. Also, don’t respond to an email, even if you think it could be an honest mistake. Responding can tell scammers that your email account works and is monitored, meaning you could be targeted for future scams.
The allure of winning big could make people ignore red flags. That’s what scammers hope happens.