“Smishing” Self-Defense: How to Prevent Trouble that Comes in Text Messages

Each day, about 20 billion text messages are sent to two billion smartphone users worldwide. Most of these texts are opened within three minutes, and many within a few seconds. The massive number of text messages and their rapid-fire response rate – by comparison, only one in four email messages are opened within 10 minutes of arrival – amounts to unbridled opportunity for fraudsters exploiting the du jour device for deception: the pocket-held computer that also happens to make phone calls …

Don’t Be a Scam Mark When You Park

There are many routes to a ripoff, including several schemes that can occur when you park your car: Fake fines. A longtime ruse, phony parking tickets have resurged in recent months. The “classic” con involves windshield-left violations that appear authentic. Thanks to inexpensive hand-held printers, scammers can produce on-the-spot thermal printouts that look like actual tickets produced by police-used machinery, either standalones or placed in brightly colored envelopes, purchased online, like those used by some law enforcement. Motorists who receive …

2 New Twists in IRS Impostor Scams

Despite crackdowns that busted several crime rings and resulted in scores of arrests in what reigned as the top scam for three consecutive years, IRS impostors are still going strong, launching two new twists in their long-running schemes that have already bilked U.S. taxpayers of at least $55 million since 2013. In one ploy scammers posing as IRS agents are phoning citizens about a supposed tax debt, but are now claiming that the agency has already mailed them two certified …

New Trends in Cyber Scams

According to the cybersecurity company Symantec — known for its Norton and LifeLock products — cyber criminals reached “new levels of ambition” last year. Below are some highlights of the firm’s 2017 Internet Security Threat Report. Email One in 131 emails sent in 2016 contained a malware-laden link or attachment — the highest rate in five years. Malicious email, deemed “the weapon of choice,” is “a proven attack channel,” reports Symantec. “It doesn’t rely on vulnerabilities, but instead uses simple …

What to Know About the Top Summer Scams

As temperatures rise, so do certain scams. Here’s how to avoid getting burned in summer’s most common cons. Home repairs Conning contractors typically come to your home unexpectedly, offering steep discounts on driveway resurfacing, roof work, tree trimming or other “necessary” repairs they happen to see while driving by or soliciting business door-to-door. Most seek an upfront payment to “go buy materials” and then disappear. Others do fast and faulty repairs (like spreading used motor oil to coat driveways) or …

‘Found’ Money for a Fee? Beware of New Surge in Unclaimed Property Scams

A longtime scam is back with a vengeance: claims that state officials are holding money or property that belongs to you, and all you need to do is pay a fee to claim it. Actually, the first part could be true. You could be entitled to a slice of some $43 billion in “unclaimed property” that sits in state treasuries — money from forgotten bank accounts, insurance policies, stock dividends, utility security deposits, even contents from abandoned safe deposit boxes. …