Dayia Shurtleff, marketing assistant, Lewiston State Bank
Citizens of Utah lost more than $6 million last year from various forms of reported fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Fraudulent transactions are on the rise, and scammers are getting more effective and creative. While you may think that email link from your Airbnb® host is safe, or that the tracking code from your most recent purchase is harmless, you may want to think again. Here are four common scams you should watch out for this year.
Online purchase scams
According to the Better Business Bureau, more than $13 million were lost due to fraudulent online purchases in 2017. This type of scam is the most frequently reported.
Ways to help protect yourself: Check that your URL is secure and accurate every time you make a purchase, read all terms and conditions, avoid following links to purchase directly through ads or emails.
Wire fraud/spear phishing
Within Cache Valley last year, there were several reports of hackers posing as CEOs or customers requesting wire transfers through email. At Lewiston State Bank, like many other financial institutions, we have protocols in place to help mitigate this risk, but it is important you are aware of the risk and take action to protect yourself, too.
Ways to help protect yourself: Make sure your email address is up-to-date at your financial institution, always call when requesting a wire transfer, familiarize yourself with your financial institution’s protocol, and educate your employees and/or family members who have access to your account.
Income tax scam
I personally had a few friends fall prey to this scam in 2017, and as tax season comes to a close, there has been an influx of reports for this type of fraud. This scam involves a phone call claiming that you owe money in overdue income tax, and that if payment isn’t made immediately over the phone, law enforcement will be notified. The IRS will never call you before first sending a statement in the mail, and they will not request personal information over the phone. Make sure your high school and college students are aware of this scam as they were a heavily targeted demographic for this scam.
Ways to help protect yourself: Do not give personal information, such as social security numbers, over the phone, consider paying your taxes early in the season, and consider consulting with a professional accountant before making payments to the IRS you were not expecting.
Much like the income tax scam, victims receive a phone call requesting immediate payment. Often, the scammers narrative will relate to student loan or medical expenses that are overdue and offer to “forgive” a significant amount if a payment is made immediately over the phone. Collection agencies will first send you an invoice in the mail. If you receive an unexpected call from a company requesting payment, ask them to send you an invoice detailing the services you received.