Scams are a scary prospect, and with today’s technology and current events being what they are, it’s all the more important that you remain aware of them so you can avoid them. With a whole year ahead of us, let’s consider some scams and scam-based trends that will likely continue throughout.
More Scams Will Put AI to Use
The thing about artificial intelligence is that it is a tool, and as such, it can be used by anyone for any goal. This includes scammers.
Unfortunately, scammers will be able to use these tools to improve their efforts, writing more convincing phishing messages, even creating images or even voice and video to enhance their scams. In addition to really investing in employee training to help them better spot these scams, it is wise to consider upping your authentication processes in the near future to ensure that your workers are interacting with legitimate entities.
Phone Scams Aren’t Going Anywhere
Smartphones offer scammers a variety of ways to take advantage of their targets in addition to the robocalls that plague so many of us already. Malicious apps, malicious QR codes, malicious links shared via text messages… there’s a lot that the smartphone and its Internet connectivity can do to support a scam attempt.
Of course, scammers can—and almost certainly will—continue to use their old-fashioned methods. Some scammers will still call, pretending to be any of a cast of trusted characters to convince or scare the person on the line to share sensitive information.
Scams Will Continue to Use Underhanded Tactics
Modern scams come in many different varieties, each of which is designed to take advantage of the target’s emotions in a different way. Not only does this make it more challenging to keep track of them all, it makes it far easier to be blindsided by an attack that comes from an unexpected source. We’ve discussed phone scams, sure, but cybercriminals are also using apps to their advantage now. One scam now consists of a scammer pretending to be with a bank’s fraud department calling to report an attempted theft via a peer-to-peer payment app, and while helping the target “fix” the “issue,” the scammer guides the target through the steps to transfer the money away themselves.
Plenty of other scams also take advantage of people in specific situations. Employment scams consist of a long con, targeting job seekers and taking them through what seems to be a real process, only to steal personal information. Those looking for love can be targeted as part of a romance scam, a supposed match stringing them along until the trap is sprung. Some scammers target those still hoping that cryptocurrency is a wise investment, luring them in with promises of getting in early or participating in a giveaway.
In Many Ways, These Scams are Just More of the Same Tactics We’ve Always Seen
This is a good thing, because it means that many of the same precautions and defenses we’ve always recommended are still applicable and effective. For instance:
- Treat unexpected communications, scare tactics and “too good to be true” offers with skepticism. If you are contacted and the person on the other end starts asking you for personal information, or trying to scare you into sharing it, that’s your first sign that something is up. Avoid providing the kind of information that could be used to steal your identity or access your accounts. Instead, break contact and reach out to the supposed institution separately, such as calling a confirmed number yourself.
- Avoid unknown or unexpected links and attachments. I mean it—don’t click on any link or attachment you’re provided with in an email without contacting the sender (as above, through separate means) to confirm it is meant to be there. These links are shockingly easy to disguise.
- Know how scammers often operate. For instance, many scammers prefer that their victims send them gift card credentials, money orders, or wire transfers, rather than pulling out a credit card. Why? Simple—the credit card companies have safeguards in place that can prevent the scammer from keeping their ill-gotten funds.
What If a Scam Worked?
If you do make a mistake (as we all do at times) and have a scammer take advantage of you, there are a few steps you need to take to prevent further damage to yourself and potentially others later on.
- Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission, as well as to any relevant parties, including your bank, credit card company, social media platform, and so on. It may not be a bad idea to also file a police report.
- Change the passwords to any account the scammer may now be able to access, utilizing our recommended best practices.
- Run a virus scan on any device you may have opened a link or attachment with,
- Freeze your credit reports and add fraud alerts to prevent unauthorized accounts from being opened in your name.
Scams are a Normal Thing, But We Can Try to Fix That
One of the most important things we can do to try and stop scams is to prove to scammers that their efforts aren’t worth their time and energy. Remaining aware and mindful is the best way to do that.
At Dresner Group, we’re all about helping businesses around Maryland remain secure and productive. If you’re interested in how we can help your organization, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask at (410) 531-6727.