Protect Yourself: Top Scam Trends of 2022
Scammers are nothing new, but unfortunately, they’re here to stay. By constantly developing new and improved ways to trick people into giving away their money and personal information, scammers are able to stay relevant in the ever-changing digital world. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2022, there were 2.4 million reports of fraud, and victims lost a total of $8.8 billion. While the amount of money defrauded from innocent victims is $2.6 billion more than reported in 2021, the number of reports is down by half a million.
The best way to protect yourself from becoming a scam victim is by staying up to date on scamming trends. The more you know about how a scammer will try to steal from you, the better prepared you are to protect yourself. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common scams of 2022, and how to properly report fraud when you spot a scam.
There are many types of imposter scams out there, but they all operate the same way: a scammer impersonates someone you can trust, and convinces you to send them money or give them personal information. Scammers skilled in manipulation depend on victims' emotions like panic, fear, and even love, for their ruses to work. They'll make up emergency situations that don't allow you any time to think or question what's going on, and before you know it, your money is gone and the scammer has disappeared.
To Avoid Imposter Scams:
- As soon as you get a call from a number you don't recognize, you should be on alert.
- Do not click on any links from email addresses or text messages you don't recognize.
- If you are asked via phone to pay any money, end the call right away. The scammer might urge you to stay on the line; don't fall for it.
- Don't give in to your emotions. Take a deep breath and proceed with caution.
- Verify the information you're being given is false by calling the entities the scammer is pretending to represent.
Online Shopping Scams
In the last few years, online shopping has skyrocketed to the top of the list of most-used shopping methods, and with that, so has online shopping scams. This type of scam involves criminals using fake websites, or fake ads on real websites, to get people to purchase a popular or luxury product. Unsuspecting victims will see an item that they want, posted for an incredibly low price. Unfortunately, once they purchase the item, they will never get a receipt, shipment tracking information, or even the product itself. If they get anything at all (which is a rare occasion), it will be a cheap knockoff of the product they thought they purchased. A newer version of this scam is shopping via social media platforms: scammers promote their fake products via social media, advertising a "limited time sale" on a fake website. Once they get a certain number of orders, they shut down the website and all social media accounts affiliated with it.
To Avoid Online Shopping Scams:
- Search for reviews of the store (not the product, as the product is either fake or nonexistent) before purchasing. Take special note of any reviews that mention shipping, refunds, or customer service.
- If the store is on social media, check out their account history. Does the account seem new (few followers, few posts)? What are the comments on their posts saying? Is there any UGC (user-generated content) from real people reviewing their product?
- Learn the store's refund or return policy before making any purchases.
- Remember, if the price seems to good to be true, it probably is.
When you think of the question "What would you do if you won the lottery?", we bet a lot of answers come to mind. Dream cars, dream houses, dream vacations...but have you ever thought about making sure you weren't being scammed? Prize/sweepstakes/lottery scams are among the top 5 fraud methods used in 2022. Scammers will contact unsuspecting victims and tell them they've won a prize, and all they have to do to claim it is click on a link or pay a portion of their winnings to a third party for "taxes and fees". The link provided will usually go to a fake website where the victim puts in their personal information for the scammer to steal, and the check sent to the victim will usually turn out to be fake, and the entire amount of the check will be removed from your account, including the amount you sent to the "third party".
To Avoid Prize/Sweepstakes/Lottery Scams:
- Verify the sender and the legitimacy of the lottery or sweepstakes before you do anything.
- If you are required to send money upfront before receiving the winnings, it’s a scam. Don’t send money in order to receive money.
- Have you entered a contest recently? If you know you haven’t, don’t respond to claims that you’ve won a prize.
- Be aware of fake state lottery websites. Scammers will sometimes set up fake sites to look official and lure people in. Always search your state’s official lottery website for lottery information.
Investing is an excellent option for earning passive income, and when done right, you could earn a lot of money in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, among all the legitimate resources available for learning how to invest, scammers are also luring people in with promises of teaching you how to earn a lot of money with little risk. You'll usually come across this type of scam when it comes to stocks, real estate, and precious metals and coins. They start by offering a free seminar, where they introduce a course or coaching package that will teach you everything you need to know about investing. They might even show you testimonials from "former students" that are now successful and wealthy. If you buy this course, you too can learn all their tips and tricks to investing.
To Avoid Investment Scams:
- Watch out for these key words/phrases or concepts: "no experience/training necessary," "get rich quick," "quit your job," "sure thing/guarantee," "step-by-step program," etc.
- Understand that statistics and testimonials can be faked. Scammers will go as far as to pay actors or pay for fake reviews to convince their victims.
- Scammers will exaggerate the significance of current events to try to convince you that they influence the markets more than they actually do. Do objective research to verify market trends.
- Look up the company or coach online and see if they have a presence outside of the websites and links they provided to you. Also look them up along with the words "review," "scam," or "complaint" to see if they've previously been reported on.
- Do background checks for free on the individuals or firms offering investment opportunities, on investor.gov.
Job Opportunity Scams
Most job openings nowadays are posted online. Scammers are going to great lengths to post fake jobs and even conduct fake interviews. If you come across a job listing online with pay that seems too good to be true, a vague job description, or you get a "you're hired!" response quickly after applying, these are just a few signs that this job posting is a scam.
To Avoid Job Opportunity Scams:
- Do thorough research of the company listing the job: a reputable company or organization should have a fully-functional, well-designed website, social media presence, and consumer reviews.
- If a recruiter reaches out to you first, research the individual's professional profiles (for example, their LinkedIn profile).
- Do not provide any personal information other than contact information until you are hired and confirm the company and job are real. Even then, remember that your personal details would only be needed for a background check or to fill out tax forms.
- Never pay "equipment fees" or any other upfront fees in order to perform your job.
What if I've already been scammed?
If you paid a scammer: Whether you used a debit or credit card, purchased gift cards, wired money, or used a money transfer mobile app, you can typically contact the company or financial institution used to make the transaction to report the fraud and ask for your money back.
If you gave a scammer your personal information: Change all your passwords to your online accounts. Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission, and notify one of the three major credit reporting agencies that you need a freeze placed on your account.
If a scammer has access to your computer or phone: Update your computer's security software, run a scan, and delete anything suspicious. Contact your phone service provider to take back control of your phone number and change your account password. If your credit card or bank login information is stored on your computer or mobile device, check for any unauthorized charges or changes, and change those account passwords.
The Federal Trade Commission uses information from scam reports to build cases against scammers, spot trends, and share data about what is happening in your community. If you come across any scams, report it to the FTC. You should also alert your friends, family, and others in your community about a scam, to help other people to avoid falling victim to fraud.
Unfortunately, scammers will always be around, constantly finding new ways to steal from you. Your best weapon of defense is education. The more you know about the scams and what to look out for, the better your chances are of not becoming a victim of a scammer.
To learn more about protecting your identity and your money, check out our Security Center.
*Statistical information regarding reports of fraud and money lost provided by the Federal Trade Commission © 2023 All rights reserved. AllSouth strives to keep its information accurate and up to date.