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

Each day about 20 billion text messages are sent to 2 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) amount to an unbridled opportunity for fraudsters exploiting the du jour device for deception: the handheld 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 …

‘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. …

How to Efficiently Read a Privacy Policy

You may be concerned about your online privacy — and should be — but chances are you don’t read website privacy policies. Few people regularly do, and no surprise. The typical privacy policy is about 2,500 words, or roughly a 10-minute read, with enough legalese to make Perry Mason wince. Considering the typical American visits nearly 1,500 websites a year (each with a different privacy policy), it would take about 250 hours to completely read them all, Carnegie Mellon researchers …

8 Military-Themed Impostor Scams

As we remember our fallen heroes this Memorial Day weekend, let’s not forget a continuing battle facing others who served: military-themed impostor scams that prey on veterans, their families and everyday citizens who honor their sacrifice. Toll-free trickery. The latest con campaign against veterans: an impostor phone number that mimics that of the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), which allows certain vets to use approved health care providers outside of the VA system. In this years-old ruse, scammers buy phone numbers …