It’s a new year, meaning people are trying to rid their lives of all sorts of annoyances and bad habits, but if there’s one thing you can count on not going away, it’s people trying to scam you.
Scammers are and always have been a threat to your security and financial stability, but most are relatively easy to avoid. The Better Business Bureau recommends things like looking closely at emails for links, typos or anything that doesn’t match the supposed identity of the sender; independently contacting a company that claims to be contacting you; and minimizing the amount of information you reveal to strangers on social media.
To help people avoid identity theft and fraud, the BBB listed a few scams that consumers should be wary of in 2015.
1. Facebook Friend Requests
The BBB warned against accepting friend requests from acquaintances (or taking directions from them). A woman in Texas said someone impersonating a woman she knew sent her a friend request, which she accepted. The friend said she had seen the woman’s name on a list of federal government grant winners (the friend also claimed to have won), and told her to friend a stranger to request the money. It was a scam in which the stranger asked the woman to pay in order to receive her money, a common strategy, and she didn’t go for it.
The lesson here is to prudently approve friend requests and, most important, don’t blindly follow instructions from people, especially when there’s money involved. This sort of thing pops up in email and on social media a lot.
2. IRS Phone Calls
This has long been an issue but requires repeating: The IRS will not call you. The IRS will not email you. First of all, they reportedly don’t have the staff to answer half of the phone calls they receive, let alone make outgoing calls. Second, any correspondence from the IRS comes via the U.S. Postal Service. Don’t give anyone claiming to be the IRS your personal information.
3. Fake Emails That Look Real
Even the least skeptical people out there can spot spammy emails, but not all email scams come ridden with typos, weird sentence structure and absurd claims. Some look like real correspondence from a familiar company. The BBB reports a new round of fake emails, this one targeting USAA customers.
The email looks the part, but upon further examination, the sender’s email address is a little fishy (or phishy, if you like puns): USAA.Web.Services@customermail.usaa.com. The BBB warns that using variations of a seemingly legitimate domain (customermail.usaa.com) is a sign of phishing.
In addition to these three things the BBB says you should look out for in 2015, there’s the risk of data breaches and tax-related identity theft. The risk of fraud is always out there, so the best thing you can do is exercise caution when using the Internet and regularly checking your accounts and credit for signs of unauthorized activity. To help with that, you can get your free credit report summary every month on Credit.com so you can monitor whether there are new requests for credit that you didn’t make.
More on Identity Theft:
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life