New scams pop up every year, with new strategies focused on the same goal: to get your personal information or your money.
Scams can damage an individual’s finances and identity, and a company’s reputation and bottom line. It’s crucial to know what scams are out there and how to protect yourself and your business from them.
Here are some of the latest scams affecting businesses and consumers that have become more common in recent months. Some of them primarily affect companies, some individual consumers, but all of them can impact your business.
7 Scams Affecting Businesses and Consumers To Be Aware Of
1.) Government Program Scams
The pandemic has seen the rise of a variety of coronavirus-related scams. From scams selling fake at-home tests to ones using tax changes and discussions of student loan forgiveness to convince people to give out their personal information, many of these scams are still in play.
In other instances, scammers will place calls impersonating IRS personnel or local tax collection agencies, attempting to convince you to give them your personal information or send them money to take care of your “tax debt.”
They’ll use phone calls, emails, or even letters to contact you, offering debt relief or threatening to revoke your driver’s license or passport if you don’t comply.
2.) Phone Scams
Many types of phone scams have been common over the past several years, some of them offering debt relief, credit repair, investment opportunities, extended car warranties, or free trials. Still others act as nonprofits requesting charitable donations.
Criminals have long used phone calls to scam people, but many scammers are now incorporating text messages (often referred to as “smishing” texts) and robocalls (calls using recorded voices).
If you receive phone calls like this, hang up. If you get a text, don’t click on any links in the text. In both cases, consider blocking the phone number.
In addition to these calls and texts, there are a few new phone-related scams to be aware of:
- QR code scams. Scammers put QR codes in inconspicuous places. When you scan one of their codes, you’re prompted to make a small purchase or enter your credentials on a fake website.
- SIM swapping. Scammers assign your phone number to a new SIM card in a phone they have in their possession. Once they have the new SIM card set up, they can access your information, log into your accounts, even reset account passwords using verification codes or links sent to the phone.
- One-Time Password (OTP) Bots. Scammers use bots to trick you into sharing authentication codes sent to you via text, email, or an authentication app. They do this via a robocall or text impersonating a legitimate company (i.e., your bank). They ask you to authorize a charge and tell you to input the code they send you if you didn’t initiate the charge. In reality, they’re trying to log into your account.
3.) Peer-to-Peer Payment App Scams
Apps like Zelle, Venmo, or CashApp have made splitting the check at dinner easy, but they’ve also become a tool bad actors use to try to steal your money.
One way they do this is through an email, text, or phone call impersonating your bank’s fraud department. They then claim that someone was trying to steal your money via the app and they have to walk you through the issue to fix it.
Scammers are increasingly asking people to send them payments via these apps for other scams as well.
In these apps, once you make a payment, you typically can’t cancel it. That means if someone scams you into sending them money this way, you won’t be able to get it back.
To be safe, it’s best to use these apps only to send money to friends and family. And make sure you have your security set to require a passcode to make payment.
4.) Online Purchase Scams
This was the scam that posed the greatest risk to consumers in 2021, according to the Better Business Bureau. And it’s a simple one. Essentially, you purchase a product or service online that is never delivered. This can happen through marketplace websites, social media, or even fake e-commerce stores.
To stay safe from online purchasing scams, watch for red flags like high-pressure sales tactics, deals that seem too good to be true, and ads that seem to be missing key details.
You should also pay for online orders with your credit card, as you can initiate a refund through your credit card company if you don’t receive the item.
5.) Cryptocurrency Scams
Cryptocurrency scams often involve fake prizes, contests, giveaways, or investment opportunities. Scammers sometimes impersonate well-known cryptocurrency websites or even celebrities. Ultimately, they try to get you to send them money or share your login information.
Other scams use the cryptocurrency ATMs that are popping up at local gas stations, retailers, and convenience stores to trick people out of their money.
They’ll impersonate utility companies, government officials, or sweepstakes promoters, asking you to pay a fee or bill by sending them cryptocurrency bought through those ATMs and sent to an untraceable digital wallet.
6.) Phishing Scams
With a phishing scam, a scammer uses text or email messages to try to get your personal information, such as passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. The goal is to gain access to your bank, email, social media, e-commerce, or other accounts.
Messages will often appear to come from companies you know and trust (your credit card company or bank, a social media site, Amazon).
They try to get you to click on a link or open an attachment, saying there’s a problem with your account, you need to confirm personal information, you’re eligible for some kind of refund or free merchandise…and so on. In some cases they may include a fake invoice or ask you to click a link to make a payment.
Protect yourself from phishing scams by using security software, keeping all software up to date, using multi-factor authentication, and backing up your data.
7.) Tech Support Scams
With this type of scam, you receive a call or get a pop-up message on your computer claiming to be from a well-known company, telling you your computer security has been compromised.
They may ask you to pay them to fix a problem (that you don’t actually have), or enroll in a computer maintenance program (that doesn’t exist). Their goal is to steal your money, gain access to your computer, or obtain sensitive personal data like passwords, customer records, or credit card information.
Consumer Breaches Can Impact Your Business—Here’s How
Regardless of whether a scam is directed at your business or an individual connected to your company (an employee, member, or customer), any of these scams can damage your business.
When your business experiences a breach, it affects the consumer's perception of you. They lose trust in your ability to protect your sensitive data (and theirs), and generally begin to see you as untrustworthy. The next time they need the product or service you provide, they may decide to find it elsewhere.
The good news is that you can protect your data and maintain trust with the public in one fell swoop. Data privacy protection not only guards your sensitive information against threats, it can be a selling point with your customers.
Protect Your Business With Help From Securus
Securus Partner Solutions offers the identity and credit solutions you need to help you protect your customers and your business from scams.
Securus provides the most comprehensive set of identity protection services available, enabling your customers, employees, or members to upgrade their level of protection at unmatched price points and with seamless activation. This kind of offering can help strengthen relationships, increase retention and revenue, and reduce overall risk.