Scams to keep your eye out for in 2020.
My phone has never rung so much in all my life as it did at the end of 2019. No, I didn't suddenly become hot on the dating scene (dang it), win the lottery, or become famous. I'm just one of the millions of people out there dealing with the deluge of robocall scams that try to separate us from our hard-earned money and our identity. But, robocalls aren't the only scams out there that are trending in 2019 into 2020.
According to the CBI, imposter, online purchasing, and work-related scams are all the rage in 2020. And most of the ways that each of these is executed is considered just straight-out fraud. Below are a few of the most common scams that are being reported right now.
"You need to call us right away, or we are going to have to get you arrested." This was an actual message left on my phone from a robocall regarding something I supposedly did or didn't do. Of course, I deleted it with a few major eye rolls involved. It wasn't the first that I have received just like it and definitely not the last. Unfortunately, it's just one of the many examples of one of the most common scams Colorado experienced in the past year.
Robocalls threatening some sort of action, like revocation of your social security number, jail time for some ridiculous reason, and the like are making the rounds. What makes these harder to discern than most is that scammers have learned how to mimic numbers that are legit, such as a few fake calls I've gotten from "Xcel Energy" and even a government agency. My favorite was the day I apparently called myself (my own phone number popped up on caller ID) to threaten to take away my social security number if I didn't send a Visa gift card. I hate it when I do that (insert facepalm here).
As a rule of thumb, you will never get any kind of calls from the government. You'll never get a call from government offices about your social security number (nor is it ever under suspension), Microsoft won't call you to tell you your computer needs some costly software, and even if the numbers are local, they are not likely anyone you want to be involved with. And none of them will ever ask for payment via gift card.
Think of it this way, you can hardly get through to these groups when you are actually trying to—rest assured they won't initiate a conversation.
Money Wiring/Check Cashing Scams
Considered under the imposter scam family, these scams still manage to dupe plenty of people each year, and are something to watch out for. While these calls can be robocalls, they are often a real person making the call, which lends credibility to the scam.
"This includes calling and pretending to be a loved one in distress and needing money, contacting the victim and claiming to be with a government or law enforcement agency collecting a fine or debt, or representing one’s self as an IRS agent calling about past-due tax debt," says the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
This also includes the devastating lottery scam, where for a simple processing fee and tax payment, you'll get oodles of money—or so you're told.
"Many people will send these criminals thousands of dollars in the hopes of getting millions. But in the end, it is just a scam. Sometimes, the criminals in this scam will ask for the victim’s bank account information so that they can transfer funds into the account. What they will really do is use the information to wipe out the account," the CBI adds.
There are literally a ton of these type of scams, delivered via phone, email, computer virus, and more. If by email or online, misspellings are a huge giveaway that a scam is afoot. Don't give your bank account to anyone you don't know or trust. If someone claims to be from a company, the government, or even your own family and friends are asking for money, gift cards, etc., call the actual person or organization in question to see what is really going on.
Online Purchase Scams
If you've ever bought something online and never received it, it probably didn't just get lost in the mail. It's fairly common for scammers to put up an item for sale, get your money, and then disappear without a trace only to pop up under another business name, etc. As a seller, if anyone overpays you and asks you to deposit a check and send the extra money to a "shipping" company or another third party, do yourself a favor and cancel the purchase. Often you'll end up using your own funds to withdraw the "extra" money, and when the initial payment check tries to go through, it bounces.
Sites like eBay are pretty good at controlling these types of scams, making it safer to buy or sell, as well as recover money if you were duped. But not all online shopping sites, including social media sites, have done as much to protect users. So, don't transfer money or ship an item until you know the selling company/person is legit or payment has cleared.
We all dream of working for ourselves, but many of the at-home positions you see advertised are designed to part you from your money and information rather than pay you money for your work. Here is what to watch out for: online interviewers who are asking for personal information, bank accounts, social security numbers, and so on; or anyone who sends you a check upon hiring, asking you to send a portion to another person. In this case, you may unwittingly be helping someone launder money and are almost ensured the check will not clear.
"Another way this scam is committed is through online sales or offers of jobs like personal assistant or mystery shoppers. What they all have in common is that the victim is asked to send money to another person. Once the victim sends the money, additional requests for finds will follow, with the callers becoming more aggressive and even threatening," CBI adds.
Scam of the Heart
This isn't as common as those above, but please be careful, particularly if you meet people online. If you've met your true love on a dating site or social media site, etc., and send them money to come visit, but the funds are never enough or they never "arrived," and you haven't met the person after months of sending them funds, you're probably being duped.
Courtesy of GIPHY
If you think you've been scammed, let the CBI know on its 24-hour Identity Theft and Fraud Hotline at 1-855-443-3489 or visit CBI’s website.
Have you had a recent scam tried on you? Let us know what to watch out for in the comments below!