To wrap up my series on the latest scams I want to cover scams that are not as common or prevalent but can be equally or more devastating than others. The following is a short list:
Porting Scams – The scam called porting involves criminals stealing your phone and your phone service in order to get access to your bank accounts through confirmation text messages. Scammers start by collecting your name, phone number and then gather any other information they can find out about you such as your address, social security number and date of birth. Then they contact your mobile carrier and state that your phone has been stolen and ask that the number be “ported” to another provider and device. Once your number has been ported to the new device, scammers can start accessing your accounts that require additional authorization such as a code texted to your phone.
Romance Scams – Recent studies of criminal trends have found that Arizona is one of the top five states in the country for romance scams as we have such a large population of retirees who are lonely due to losing their partner. A romance scam typically involves a criminal setting up an account on a dating site with fake information and photos for a profile that is too good to be true. Once the thief has established a dialog with the victim, the scam usually elevates to the unveiling of a money problem. There is a request for funds so he or she can travel to meet you or to help a sick relative. According to the FBI romance scams cost Americans more than $232 million as nearly 15,000 people were conned in 2017 alone.
Online Adultery Scam – This is a variation of the romance scam in that the scammer through hacking determines that the victim has casually perused online dating web sites. They then determine if the victim is married which is not difficult to do and then engage in blackmail or extortion. They will contact the victim and promise, for a fee, to keep their victim’s actions quiet. This can begin a vicious cycle where the criminal will keep demanding more and more money as time goes by.
Tax Arrest Scam – The IRS and FBI have warned the public about sophisticated phone scams targeting taxpayers by claiming to be IRS employees. The scammers demand that the victims owe money to the IRS and to pay them promptly or be arrested, deported or have their driver’s license suspended. Sometimes the caller becomes aggressive, warning people that a sheriff or local law enforcement will show up at their door if they don’t pay immediately. It is important to remember that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment over the phone, or require you to use a specific payment form for your taxes.
Tax Prep Scam – Not only are taxpayers the targets of scammers this tax season, so are the tax professionals that prepare tax returns. Tax fraud is big business for fraudsters that can steal the tax preparers information, turn around and sell it on the dark web for money. This year scammers are sending a lot more phishing emails in an attempt to gain access to the accountants computer. By doing so, the scammer can get access to that tax professional’s client list and computer IP address to file fake tax returns on their behalf. Once submitted, the scammer will have the refund check sent to an address that they can pick up the check.
How to Avoid Being Scammed – To protect yourself from being scammed you have to remain diligent and follow these steps:
- Assess the validity of all messages that you receive from people and businesses that you do not know. This includes any unsolicited phone calls, people knocking on your door, emails sent to you-even those that look like they are from a company you do business with, or family and friends-and letters received in the mail that look like they are official.
- Any emails or links sent to you that seem off should be checked first, by rolling your cursor over them with your mouse before actually clicking on the link. Look at the destination URL to see if it looks legitimate or not.
- Scammers will also pose as imposters from businesses or organizations and call or approach you in person. If possible, ask for credentials if you are approached in person. Ask to speak to the caller’s supervisor. While this is no guarantee of validity of the person contacting you, it can weed out some of the scammers.
If you have any questions about this article or if I can be of assistance to you with your investment portfolio please feel free to call me at 480-296-9556.
Financial Advisor, RJFS
4111 E. Valley Auto Dr. #104
Mesa, Arizona 85206
Purity Wealth Advisors is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services Inc. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors Inc. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Rudy Eidenbock and not necessarily those of Raymond James.
Every investor’s situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment.