Did you know that Pennsylvania ranks in the top ten for US internet fraud?
In a perfect world, reports of internet scams would be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, fraudsters continue to stay a step ahead despite security measures improving daily. WTAJ reports that Pennsylvania residents lost over $108 million through online scams in 2020 and ranks No. 8 in money lost to scams across the United States, according to a study conducted by Social Catfish, an online search and verification site.
Top 10 states impacted by internet scams:
Common ways we’re fooled.
Fraudsters use their ingenuity to deceive us. It can be by phone, text, or online, using robocalls, viruses, pop-up ads, or setting up phony retailer sites. All prey on a person’s vulnerability, whether an enticing deal, a claim for financial security, unemployment benefits, health safety, even online dating. Their goal is to steal our information and/or our money.
Scams can include:
- Spoofing – A growing number of scammers are impersonating the phone number of legitimate businesses or individuals. Spoofing criminals may represent a bank, credit card company, health care provider, and others.
- Gift Card Scams – Here, fraudsters leverage gift cards in their secret shopping scams as a form of payment. You may receive a check, be asked to keep a portion for yourself and purchase gift cards with the rest. Scammers then ask you to scratch off the silver on the back of the cards and text them a picture of the numbers, giving immediate access to the money on the cards.
- Phony ‘Social Media’ Retailers – These appear as ads in your social media newsfeeds. Some are bots or institutional scams, bait-and-switch offers, or simply poor-quality merchandise. Scammers set up shops, fool the consumer, shut them down after two weeks, and start another one.
- Text Messages – A message tells unemployment benefits recipients that their state-issued account has been temporarily frozen. Recipients are asked to click on a link to verify their identity and account or card status. Don’t click; it’s fraudulent.
The best fraud prevention is to stay a step ahead. Be aware of current scams, who you’re dealing with, and never overshare your information.
- Don’t give money or share personal information to someone you don’t know on the internet.
- Stay abreast of current scams with websites like the FTC, or IC3.
- If someone randomly contacts you on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, beware. These are often scammers or other unscrupulous individuals.
- Utilize a password manager to create unique passwords for your various accounts. It will protect your data and prevent scammers from quickly guessing your passwords.
- Use AI technology to detect scam emails. For example, email reverse search tools allow you to verify the sender’s identity before you get cheated.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Stay aware, educate yourself, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Peruse these additional articles on fraud. And if you believe you are a victim of internet fraud, contact the FTC, or IC3.