It has been a rough few years. First, the pandemic, then the war in Ukraine, skyrocketing inflation, exorbitant prices, etc. Scammers know it’s easiest to victimize a scared or desperate person, so they exert pressure and strike in times of crisis.
The newest phone scams are twists on older ones, and you can keep protecting yourself with the measures in the past. However, there are a few brand new ones, which this article covers.
Your phone rings constantly, you pick up eventually, and the voice on the other end sounds quite natural. The “caller” might offer vacations, car warranties, etc., or threaten you if you seem uninterested. Some of them can even answer questions.
If a number looks unfamiliar, it’s best not to pick up. Here’s how to look up a phone number before you answer the phone.
Student Loan Scams
When the US government began accepting student loan forgiveness applications in 2022, scammers were quick to pounce. The FBI even issued warnings. Student loan scammers might call or create fake application sites. They may send “urgent” messages to apply before you miss the “deadline” and ask for a substantial application fee.
Loan forgiveness is free to apply for. What’s more, the Department of Education doesn’t call people. If you want to apply, approach the Department of Education directly for additional information.
Scanning QR Codes
Fraudsters place QR codes in unexpected places, and people scan the code accidentally and end up buying something or giving a fake website their data. Keep your phone on your person, and be careful about what you scan.
Scammers might pretend to be police officers, delivery persons, tax officials, survey takers, or even friends or relatives. They then try to scare people into giving out bank account information, credit card details, or their Social Security numbers.
SIM swapping is a new phone scam where someone steals your number and transfers it to a SIM card on their phone. They use your card to steal your data, gain access to your accounts, and reset your passwords using a link or code sent to the phone.
To protect yourself from SIM swapping, ask your telecom for extra security or a freeze on number porting. Check if your important accounts allow for multifactor authentication outside of a text message, where you verify your identity with two elements.
Zelle is a payment app that’s becoming more popular, including among scammers. The criminal will call, email, or text you and introduce themselves as an employee of your bank. They will lie that someone tried to steal your funds through Zelle and lead you through the process of sending the frozen funds to yourself. Instead, the funds are transferred to their account.
How do You Avoid These Scams?
Criminals’ messaging methods and the types of scams will change, but you can stay protected with several common-sense security measures.
Don’t share personal details, codes, usernames, or passwords that malicious entities can use to hijack your accounts.
If you haven’t enabled multifactor authentication already, make sure you add this feature ASAP. Use a non-SIM option.
If you suspect a spammer is calling you, don’t answer. Ignore the call or hang up at once. If you’re worried it could have been an important call, you can always look up the number.
If you’ve already fallen prey to a scam, file a report with the police in your area and the FTC. It might help other people avoid phone scams.