In “Old Scams, New Twists” Hartford Funds addresses key need to knows to protect yourself from financial fraud in the digital age.
- Financial scams—conducted over the phone and online—can rob unsuspecting Americans of millions of dollars each year.
- Many victims of financial fraud are unknowingly willing participants who aren’t trained to spot when they’re being deceived.
- Stop and question the validity of any stranger requesting you take an action that may involve your identity or finances.
You might be thinking to yourself, “I can tell the difference between a real and fake alert.” However, scammers are becoming smarter about their approach, can purchase and create similar emails or letters to your existing statements, and are turning to AI. Even if it doesn’t happen to you, a friend, family member, or parent could fall victim to financial fraud.
Common Scams To Be Aware of Today
Here’s a compilation of some of the biggest schemes perpetrated on vulnerable consumers. Learn the various methods used and how you can best prevent falling victim.
- Medicare scams
Perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to obtain personal information.
- Counterfeit prescription medicines
Cheap prescription drugs online, where seniors increasingly go to find better prices, are often bogus counterfeit medications.
- Funeral home and cemetery scams
Money is extorted from relatives of the deceased to settle fake debts. Disreputable funeral homes could capitalize on unfamiliarity, or a customer’s grief, by adding unnecessary charges to the bill.
- Charity fraud schemes
After high-profile disasters, fake charity creators use social media, emails, or phone calls seeking donations that end up in the pockets of fraudsters.
- Peer-to-peer payment scams
Scammers can turn popular payment apps like Zelle into a theft tool by texting or calling you to warn that a thief is trying to steal your money through the app. They pretend to help “fix” the issue by having you send money to yourself—but the money goes to the scammer’s account.
- SIM swapping
Thieves can steal your phone number and assign it to a new SIM card in the phone they control, making it easy for them to log in to your accounts or reset your passwords. Ask your mobile phone carrier if it offers extra security to help prevent SIM swapping.
- Cryptocurrency investment schemes
Fake investment professionals contact you through social media promising to grow your money if you open an account with cryptocurrency. Click an unexpected link they send, or send crypto to a QR code, and your money is gone.
- Homeowner/reverse-mortgage scams
Homeowners are pressured to take out equity in their home to use as payment for reported necessary repairs.
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams
Scam targets are contacted to inform them that they’ve won a financial prize, but are required to advance payment of a fee to collect the winnings.
- The grandparents scam
Scammers pose as grandchildren and ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem. Or, someone calls on behalf of a grandchild who is either (fictionally) in jail, a hospital, or another country.
- Tech support
A fake technical-support representative calls to fix a nonexistent computer issue with the goal of gaining remote access to a victim’s computer.
- IRS impersonation
Victims are told they’re due a tax refund or that they have unpaid taxes. The IRS will never initiate contact via phone calls, email, or social media.