Identity and personal information frauds evolve as quickly as legitimate technological innovation. Here are three new scams to be aware of.
Vishing (voice phishing) is a new form of phishing that exploits people over the phone, aiming to extract sensitive information.
Vishing scammers pose as people from trusted organizations such as a bank, or a government agency. They try to get you to divulge personal details like passwords and account numbers. Usually, they will try to create a sense of urgency so that you respond without taking the time to verify who they are.
The callers are often aggressive and manipulative, but you need to stay calm and not give them any information until you double check with the organization they claim to represent. If they become more aggressive and threatening when you tell them you want to verify their identity, that's a sure sign that they are trying to defraud you.
Reputable organizations will never contact you by phone and pressure you into any action.
Driver's license theft
There is a lucrative black-market for stolen, or copied, driver's licenses. Criminals use stolen driver's licenses for identity theft, creating fake IDs, impersonation, illegal employment, and fraudulent purchases. They assume the stolen identity to commit financial fraud, gain access to restricted areas, evade law enforcement, secure illegal jobs, or make unauthorized purchases.
One ploy is to contact you by email or direct message online, saying there has been suspicious activity on one of your accounts (Facebook, Google, bank account, etc.). They tell you that you must verify your identity by sending them a scanned copy of your driver's license, or by opening a link and holding your driver's license in front of your camera. Do not do this. Rather, contact the company through one of their published contact methods to verify the request. Chances are that the request will turn out to be a scam.
Fake websites that mimic well known sites
Criminals use emails and direct messages that direct you to websites of well-known companies, often companies that you already have an account with. The problem is that the websites are fake, even though they may look exactly like the real site. Criminals mimic websites of major companies like Bank of America, Walmart, and AARP. These fake websites are created to trick you into entering personal information that the scammers will then use for criminal activities. Your information may be sold multiple times on the Dark Web, resulting in multiple problems for you.
These fake websites can look very real. Sometimes they are actual clones of the genuine site. Do not provide any information without contacting the company through one of their published contact options.
Follow these steps to protect yourself from identity criminals
Verify callers independently: Don't rush to share personal information. Confirm the caller's identity by contacting the organization directly using published contact information. Legitimate callers will have no problem with you wanting to verify the authenticity of the request.
Beware of urgency and fear tactics: Scammers create pressure by telling you that you must take immediate action. Stay calm, take your time, and validate requests before responding.
Report suspicious calls: Report any suspicious requests to the authorities or the company that is being impersonated. Help fight cybercrime and protect others.
One more thing
If you are still using an online login password like abc123, it's time to update it to a new password that includes upper- and lower-case letters, numerals, and a special symbol.