Cybercriminals have their traditional methods of capturing targets. But just like technology is ever changing, so are their strategies. So, what can you do to help prevent yourself and your business from falling victim to new and trending scams? Stay alert and keep yourself informed of the latest ways fraudsters are attempting to nab your personal or contact info. Here are some of the trending scams we’re seeing this quarter and tips on how to avoid them. Plus, a quiz to test your knowledge.
- Tech Support Scams
- COVID-related Scams
- “Good credit” Scams
- “Credit Washing”
- Romance Scams
- Quiz: Can you Identify the Signs of a Scam?
1. Tech Support Scams
In this scam, the would-be fraudsters want you to believe you have a serious problem with your computer, like a virus. Usually via a cold call, the scammer claims to be from a legitimate source (like the technical support department from a well-known software company) offering to fix the issue. Targets may also receive fake pop-up error messages that their computer has crashed and they need to contact an illegitimate support line.
The con artist then usually instructs you to download a remote access program, giving them access to your computer. Then they’ll launch programs to convince you of your computer’s critical problems and urge you to pay with a credit card or gift card to fix it.
Pro Tip: If a caller says your computer has a problem, hang up. An unexpected tech support call is more than likely a scam. If you’re the one placing the call, always search for the legitimate support line and double-check before you dial.
Double-check before clicking links in emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local governments, or hospitals asserting to have information or access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Cybercriminals are using impostor vaccine websites to infect and lock devices with malware until payment is received.
Pro Tip: Be skeptical of any communication you receive about vaccinations. It is very unlikely that a government agency will ever call, email, or text you and ask for money or personal information.
3. “Good Credit” Scams
Across the internet, you might have seen employment offers or investment opportunities for people with good credit posted on classified ads websites or social media platforms. This is a red flag.
With this fraud, one of the criminal tactics is to lure someone with good credit in order to acquire and finance multiple vehicles. A third party or “business partner” then pays some cash upfront and promises to make the loan payments. The problem? The scammer fails to make further payments and disappears with the vehicle, leaving the scammed person with debt that’s often more than they can afford.
Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for customers signing or cosigning for someone else.
4. “Credit Washing” Scams
Lately, would-be scammers are finding ways around poor credit to buy vehicles. In this scam, fraudsters complain to credit bureaus their scores are low as a result of identity theft. Federal regulations allow bad scores to be withheld while investigating the claims, so credit bureaus give these criminals a “cleaned up” temporary credit report. The window of time is just long enough to qualify to finance a vehicle and drive off the lot with a new car without ever making a payment.
Pro Tip: Adding new documentation requirements separate from credit reports can help you detect inconsistencies that indicate credit washing.
5. Romance Scams
Historically, in a romance scam, an unsuspecting person is tricked into believing they’re in a relationship with someone they met online — but in reality, it’s a con artist who claims, conveniently, they can’t meet up IRL (that’s in real life). Keeping the relationship strictly digital, they’ll ask someone to wire money for things like plane tickets, surgery, or gambling debts. They may also ask for assistance acquiring a visa or other travel documents or request reloadable money cards or gift cards.
As it relates to the automotive industry, romance fraudsters are also convincing individuals to borrow money (often with multiple loans) to obtain vehicles and give them to third parties. In extreme situations, these scammers will try to persuade someone to use another person’s credit identity if they’ve already exhausted their own. Like a “good credit” scam, they might receive a few thousand dollars upfront, but then be on the hook for the sizeable debt.
Pro Tip: If a customer talks about purchasing a car for someone they’ve never met, or met very recently, proceed with caution. It’s possible that they are being scammed.
Stay active, stay safe
In addition to these recent scams, would-be cybercriminals also have more traditional tricks up their sleeves. You can keep yourself protected with more of our best cybersecurity tips.
Pro Tip: Along with being diligent in preventing the attacks, it’s a good idea to be prepared if one does occur. Be sure to check that you have insurance coverage in place with adequate limits to cover cybercrime attacks.
By playing an active role in your safety and cybersecurity, you can stay ahead of even the craftiest of cybercriminals.