The Better Business Bureau (BBB) listed the top 10 scams of 2014, as reported by business owners and consumers in the United States. Scams are evolving as we continue to transition to new forms of Internet usage, embracing smartphones and tablets - and we increasingly use apps.
Even though tech savvy consumers are more aware of these scams, there are still plenty of potential victims that receive an alarmingly high number of email, text message, and voice scam attempts.
Top scams of the year:
1. Arrest scam - This one is rather entertaining, as a robocall from a "police officer" or "government agent" says they will arrest victims for overdue taxes or skipping jury duty - but the issue can be settled with a wire transfer or debit card payment. Sometimes it says a police agency needs to talk to a person, and it's important he or she respond immediately.
2. Tech support scam - This one you've probably seen - a Microsoft (Norton, Apple, or other well-known company) rep contacts you to say they will assist with tech support to clean up a PC or laptop - but they instead install malware on the machine, and begin stealing personal data.
3. "Are you calling yourself?" scam - This spoofing scam makes it look like you're calling yourself, and people fall victim to voice phishing (vishing). Friendly reminder: Banks and credit card companies already know your personal information, so they won't bother asking for the information again. Instead, they ask you to verify something about your identity, such as the last four digits of your Social Security Number, or a physical mailing address where you once lived.
4. Copycat website scam
5. Medical alert scam
6. Emergency scam
7. Government grand scam
8. Robocall scam
9. Click-bait scam
10. Sweepstakes scam
It may sound silly that people are getting caught in these types of scams, but the BBB receives a large number of complaints. The organization didn't provide how many people were victimized, and how much money was fraudulently taken, but it's a continued headache for us all.
This information should be shared with those people you think could fall prey to an Internet or phone scam: Don't be pressured into making a fast decision, research all listed companies and organizations, don't provide personal information, and avoid clicking on links to unsolicited email or text messages.
(Image courtesy of RadeLaw)