CONCORD — New frauds and scams seem to crop up weekly. Identity theft and other scams rob millions of Americans of their hard-earned money. Last year alone, Americans lost $18 billion to fraud and scams. Statistically, a con artist steals someone’s identity every two seconds.
Here are some more frauds and scams that may be coming to you:
Social Security scams
Gale Stallworth Stone, acting inspector general of Social Security, is warning citizens about phone call scams in which impersonators are copying SSA’s 1-800 number so it appears to be a legitimate call on a caller-ID screen.
The scammers identify themselves as SSA employees, request a person’s Social Security number, and threaten to terminate the person’s benefits.
If you receive a call like this, do not provide any personal information. Instead, call 1-800-269-0271 or visit the SSA Office of Inspector General’s website to report it.
W-2 and tax scams
As the tax season approaches, individuals and small businesses need to be cautious of identity theft. Thieves use stolen employer identification numbers to create fake W-2 forms to file with fraudulent individual tax returns. Fraudsters also use them to open new lines of credit or obtain credit cards. Now, they are using company names to file fraudulent returns. Employers are warned to look out for emails asking for sensitive W-2 information.
Advance fee scams
New college students are receiving admission letters and scholarships this time of year. Among the letters from universities, many students may also receive offers for alleged student loans, scholarships, financial aid, and job offers.
Some will charge a fee for things you could do yourself, like filling out college applications, writing college essays, filling out the FAFSA financial aid form, or completing job applications. Whether they end up providing the service once you’ve paid is questionable.
If you hear any promotion of “just give us money and we’ll do the rest,” know that this is likely a scam. While some of the forms and applications can be difficult to complete, it is best to protect your personal information and fill them out yourself, or with someone representing a reputable company.
Telephone scammers try to trick you out of your money or personal information by using a variety of tactics. They might offer or promise money, fake products or trips, or threaten arrest if you don’t pay them.
The best way to protect yourself is to hang up on those callers and ignore their messages. You can also register for the national Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or www.donotcall.gov and check with your telephone company about additional call blocking options.
Amazon online shopping scams
Like many online stores, the potential for fraud on popular shopping sites such as Amazon does exist. While Amazon and other online sites may be trustworthy, buyers should still be wary of online traction scams.
In a recent statement, Amazon addressed an issue with a phishing email that asks for personal information or account information, including credit card details. The links provided in the email lead unsuspecting shoppers to a phony Amazon page that looks legitimate.
Amazon has urged buyers to log in directly to amazon.com if they receive emails about their personal emails, as Amazon states it will never email you about account matters.
Get more information on frauds and scams at AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. Sign up for Watchdog Alerts and stay alert on con artist’s latest tricks. It’s free of charge for everyone — AARP members, nonmembers, and people of all ages.