Sunday, December 4, 2022

Preventing Scams and Fraud this Holiday Season

(tsingha25 / iStock via Getty Images Plus)

NEW YORK — Scams and fraud are more deceiving these days, reaching you in more ways than ever before. The FTC reported 2.8 million fraud reports from consumers in 2021 alone, with reported fraud losses increasing 70% from 2020 and more than $5.8 million.

Scammers begin their traditional uptick at the start of the holiday season, and identity theft protection expert Carrie Kerskie says being aware of what new cyber and phone fraud trends to look out for is your biggest defense against unwanted fraud.

“The more that we can get this information out there the better,” Kerskie recently told T-Mobile Stories, “Unfortunately when it comes to technology, privacy and identity theft, the same old advice that was given 10, 15 years ago is still the gospel of what you’re supposed to do. And that is outdated. None of it works. It’s not true, it’s not relevant anymore.”

Scammers have expanded from targeting consumers with only traditional email and phone calls. The most recent trending scams are occurring using person-to-person payment platforms or P2P, remote access software and even public Wi-Fi.

Kerskie says the most desirable accounts to criminals include bank accounts, mobile phone accounts, credit card accounts and Amazon accounts. Now, with P2P payment platforms, criminals can get access to your bank account and use it to transfer money within moments.

The latest tactic that concerns Kerskie is using remote access software to gain access to everything on your computer without having to directly ask you for things like your social security number, bank account or credit card number. While many workers use remote access software safely from their companies’ IT departments, criminals are also using this software in their scams.

Criminals also try to access your information in settings like coffee shops or libraries using public Wi-Fi. A laptop or smartphone using public Wi-Fi can easily fall victim to scams. An easy fix is to use your smartphone’s wireless data and hotspot to help keep your personal information secure.

Kerskie says there are ways to keep scammers and fraud at bay ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Prioritize Privacy: Kerskie says, if it’s easy for you, it’s easy for a criminal. Privacy means having strong and unique passwords with a minimum of 12 characters, and for pins using random numbers and taking advantage of extra security. Enabling multi-factor authentication on your various apps and accounts will also protect yourself from potential threats.

Use Available Resources: Take advantage of the free anti-fraud safeguards offered by your mobile carrier. In the case of T-Mobile’s Scam Shield, services include enhanced caller ID, scam ID and blocking, which flags suspicious calls and gives customers the option of blocking those numbers. Additionally, customers can get a free second number to keep their personal number personal, or even change their primary number completely.

Validate or Eliminate: Whatever potential threat you come across via email, text message, letter or even a phone call, try to validate the information. If you cannot confirm the information is true or confirm the senders’ validity, throw it away, block the phone number or email address and report it as spam or junk mail.

Understanding how potential cyber threats and fraud work will help protect you this holiday season and beyond.

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