Posted: 10:23 a.m. Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Fraud, identity theft focus of National Consumer Protection Week.
It’s National Consumer Protection Week, and the Federal Trade Commission along with more than 100 federal, state and local agencies, consumer groups and advocacy organizations are focused on informing Americans of their consumer rights and how to protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud and identity theft.
Here are five scams authorities warn to be on the lookout for:
Tax scams continue to lead the list of scams, according to the Better Business Bureau. Scammers take advantage of tax season, with some posing as IRS agents to instill fear in their victims, demanding money or threatening jail time. Others pose as reputable tax preparers who may guarantee big refunds before completing returns, skim portions of your refund for themselves or overcharge for services. The IRS put together a “Dirty Dozen” tax scams you can fall into.
The “Can you hear me?” scam has long been used by fraudsters to trick businesses into purchasing office supplies and directory ads they did not order. Now consumers are in the cross hairs. When the consumer gives the typical “yes” response, the scammer makes a recording and later edits it to make it sound like the person has authorized a major purchase. Consumers have told the BBB that calls are often about vacation packages, cruises and warranties.
Data breaches continue to be worrisome for consumers, experts say. In January, Arby’s discovered a breach impacting about 1,000 restaurants that could affect 350,000 credit card users. The Atlanta-based company faces several class-action lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Atlanta over the reported breach that allegedly put customers’ financial security at risk. The fast food chain acknowledged a breach by hackers using “malware” from Oct. 25 to Jan. 19, according to the suits.
“Storm-chaser” home repair scams are another threat to consumers, particularly as spring brings more violent weather, warns Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“If you have downed trees, a damaged roof, or other storm damage, be wary of people who unexpectedly show up at your door offering services,” DeWine said. “Some con artists travel to storm-damaged areas to rip off homeowners. They promise to do the work immediately and ask for payment up front, but they leave without finishing the job. We encourage people to be careful and to research contractors before making payments.”
Phishing attacks – fake emails or websites set up to steal personal information – continue to reach all-time highs, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), an international coalition of industry, government and law enforcement that keeps tabs on cybercrime.
The election-year WikiLeaks dump of Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails proved how easy the public and even high-ranking officials fall victim to the schemes. Podesta was hacked the same way many Americans fall prey: by clicking on a phony email he thought was legitimate.