Fraud has become more frequent in recent years. Technology has a big part in that escalation.
Everyone is a target but if you know what to look out for you can protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim. Elderly are 4 times more likely to be scammed.
Data information fuels the fraud industry. The type of information being stolen: Social Security numbers, names, birthdays, real world addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, bank accounts, passcodes, etc.
Here is a list of who to look out for, how they commit fraud:
Hackers: people who actual perform the task of stealing your personal information from your directly or through hacking data belonging to a business database
Malicious Code Writers: assist hackers to gain access to computers by creating MALWARE (malicious software/programs that damage your computer
Data Brokers: people who sell your information
Vendors: purchase stolen data from hackers and brokers, resell it to an end user (Scammers)
Money Launderers: can occur with gift cards, money transfers, cryptocurrency, or untraceable forms of currency. It’s the basic principle of cleaning money, where a victim passes money to a launderer via a con, who then asks someone else to purchase materials which are resold to another party. Money laundering can also be done through a business where a client pays for a fake service, then the business pays a vendor for a fake service. The client and the vendor and the business may all be shell companies, cash businesses, or fronts for legitimate businesses. The transactions are all theoretical rather than real actions, services, or products.
Tech Gurus: People with some computer skills, the ability to learn and the drive to commit crimes. Tech people do not need to be geniuses to commit online crimes; they can be average people hiding behind the monitor. There is no single criminal profile for a cybercriminal.
TERMS TO UNDERSTAND:
Dark Web: An underground part of the web that was created by the US Navy to allow intelligence ops to communicate anonymously. They made it “open source” and it can now be used by anyone. Allowing criminals to use it to communicate, scammers sell stolen information, people sell stolen goods, commit other digital crimes, hide money, stalk, etc. The Dark web consists of websites not found on search engines like Google or Yahoo and exist under the radar of the general internet.
Boiler Rooms: offices set up with a primary purchase of making house calls to lure victims into giving up their personal information, scams include using unbelievable investment deals, selling black market products at fabulous rates, pretending to be a financial institute seeking to ‘solve an account issue’.
Boiler rooms have become harder to track with technology allowing them to exist all over the world, using the internet to make calls, using the internet to source public knowledge from social media, using spoofing to make it look like a local call when they are thousands of miles away, etc.
Other ways scammers are getting people over the telephone:
Claiming to be calling from a legit business (a bank, Amazon, a government agency) asking you to verify some information on your account.
Claiming to be a lawyer, friend, doctor of your child or grandchild and they are in dire need of money ASAP. These callers’ resort to using threat of violence, physiological abuse
Pulling information from hiring or social websites like Monster, Zip Recruiter, Linked In, Indeed, Facebook, etc. – to offer jobs over the telephone (or through emails) with high salaries or work from home options, which leads requesting you fill out a job application – giving them all your personal data and bank information for a direct deposit.
Spoofing: A broad term for the type of behavior that involves a cybercriminal masquerading as a trusted entity or device. Spoofing can be used through email - getting a fake email from a real contact, or a call from a local area code that is a person somewhere else in the world (like Google Voice).
1. Getting an email asking you to buy a gift card because the sender is having trouble purchasing one, and once you have the card to send them all the information on the gift card
2. A payment request via Zelle, Venmo or Cash app for a service or product that is completely unfamiliar or a reminder for a yearly renewal for something you don’t recall signing up for.
1. When callers claim to be from Medicare and want to sell you something or ask for information.
2. Syndicates of doctors, lab owners and middlemen defrauding the system – an example: the scam has a middlemen advertise a special genetic test, recruits shady doctors and labs that would request the test and perform the test, all 3 submitted claims to Medicare for coverage knowing they checked all the boxes. Medicare pays out even though most or all these claims are for patients that did not get the test, did not need the test, or had their information stolen and used to process the claim.
How to Protect Yourself:
1. Use two factor verifications
2. Use a service that freezes your credit and only you can unlock it by reaching out to them
3. Do not save credit card numbers in your browsers
4. Use biometric locks (face scanning or fingerprints)
5. Use antivirus and malware scanners
6. Do not post your personal cell phone anywhere if you use it as a security feature
7. Clean your physical wallet, shred any expired or unused credit cards, do not carry around your birth certificate, social security card or detailed personal information in your wallet.
8. Update your cell phone contacts, be wearily any calls from unknown numbers
9. Add phone log protections and spam blockers
10. Review your credit card statements and credit report frequently
11. Put the AARP Fraud Watch Network helpline in your contacts – (877)-908-3360
12. Clear your internet browsing “fingerprints”, know that websites collect tons of data on their users sophisticated enough to single you out of millions.
13. Be aware of spoofing tools
14. Avoid using remote desktops unless the source is legitimate
15. Keep up on latest trends of scammers
16. If you think you have been scammed, contact law enforcement or the AARP helpline
17. Change your passwords frequently and keep them somewhere safe, do not use common terms/names/birthdays/etc.
18. Take alerts about data breaches seriously.
19. Know that Medicare does not make calls to recruit, sell, or promote any service, those calls are scams. Never give your Medicare information to anyone who calls.
The FTC banned wire transfers as acceptable payments, so if a telemarketer requests a wire transfer, hang up, they are a scammer.
Never buy gift cards for strangers if they ask.
Do not pay for services via wire transfer, crypto or telegram, unless you know and trust the person that is receiving it.
Never send cash through the mail, do not write cash checks unless you know the person and hand them the check.
Scamming the elderly has become organized crime’s favorite as it is the easiest with almost no traceability and minimal cost.