Fear by Phone: High Anxiety for You, High Profits for Scammers

The telephone is a scammer’s best weapon, used in 77 percent of money-netting schemes, according to the government’s latest scam-tracking data. The best ammo: fear, and here’s how it bangs best for the biggest bucks: “Official” intimidation. The most profitable and most played schemes have fraudsters posing from a government agency — Medicare, the Social Security Administration, the FBI, local police and, of course, the IRS. (Until it was busted last year, one India-based ring of IRS impostors was netting …

Why and How College Students Are Scammed

College students are ideal victims for identity theft, with clean or nonexistent credit histories ripe for exploitation … and often clueless about their risks and value to scammers. They are more likely to post birth dates and other personal nuggets on social media that can be pieced together by Facebook-trawling identity thieves, and to use public Wi-Fi for risky online shopping, banking and email. They’re also more apt to open links touting free music and games (that actually hide computer …

FTC: Impostor Scams Surpass ID Theft (but Debt Collection Remains Top Complaint)

More Americans last year complained about scammers playing an identity — most often, that of an IRS or other government official — than stealing theirs. In its 2016 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, released last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said impostor scams surpassed identity theft for the first time, becoming the second most common category of consumer complaints. Debt collection remained the top consumer gripe, generating 859,090 complaints (28 percent of the total) — more than the combined …

Puppy Scams Return!

How much is that doggy on the computer screen? With a recent resurgence in the longtime Puppy Scam, it’s costing some pet-seekers thousands of dollars and heaps in heartbreak. That’s because they fall for an adorable pup pictured online — on Craigslist, Facebook or a website supposedly for a reputable breeder — that’s advertised “for sale,” adoptable for free to a loving home, or in response to their own “wanted” posts seeking a pet. Problem is, there is no animal. …

Shelter From the Sneakiest Real Estate Scams

Scams are a reality of real estate. Whether buying, selling or renting property, here’s what to know about some of the sneakiest schemes: Closing cons It starts with hacking the email accounts of real estate agents to steal details about clients and closing dates, often by tricking agents into clicking malware-infected links supposedly sent by a potential client. Scammers then follow with phone calls or other emails — posing as that agent, a title company, real estate attorney or the …

New Uptick in Government Scams Post-Election

Donald Trump won’t be the only one to shake things up. With a new president in the White House, scammers have fresh and convincing opportunities to take aim. Some schemes related to Trump policy and promises that you should expect, especially in coming weeks: Grant scams. Whenever there’s a change in government leadership, there’s an increase in government aid scams. Reports to our Fraud Watch Network Helpline (877-908-3360 toll-free) have increased noticeably since the Nov. 8 election, says Amy Nofziger of AARP …