The Identity Theft Resource Center has noticed some new scams in recent weeks, but you may find that some of them are old scams wearing a 2016 face-lift.
1. Boss Phishing
This scam already has taken a number of companies to the cleaners, mostly because it works really well. One recent high-profile victim of boss phishing includes the social media app Snapchat, which was hit late last month.
Boss phishing scams happen when a hacker either gains access to an executive’s email account, or creates a new account that masquerades as the boss’ account. When an employee receives an email from a “higher up,” instructing him to send back detailed sensitive information, the hacker gets his hands on the content while the employee thinks he’s just doing his job.
This content could be employee payroll records, W2 forms (as in the Snapchat breach), entire databases of customer information, or even protected company trade secrets.
Fortunately, it’s actually pretty easy to avoid falling for a boss phishing scam. If you’re ever asked for sensitive information, verify the request verbally. Then, once you’re given the go-ahead to send the information, open a new email to the boss instead of just hitting reply.
[Learn more about Boss Phishing or CEO fraud.]
2. Mobile Wallet Theft
There’s no doubt that mobile wallets are a convenient form of payment, and with more and more retailers accepting the electronic transfer, the practice of paying for your stuff with your smartphone instead of a card or cash is catching on. But there are some things that consumers have to keep in mind before paying electronically.
The easiest way to steal your payment info is by stealing your phone, but one report explained how a man tested out the ease of stealing payment information by simply adding someone else’s credit card to his mobile wallet account. He later paid the individual back, but he was able to successfully charge funds to the test victim’s credit card.
Keeping your payment system secure is an absolute must if you plan to skip the hassle of credit cards. Passcode lock your phone to keep a thief out if you lose possession of it, and make sure you’re picking security questions for your accounts that can’t be discovered through some basic internet searching (like your mother’s maiden name, for example).
3. Political Scams
There’s no doubt that this year’s political campaigns are a hot topic, and as with any headline-grabbing event, scammers are waiting to trick you out of your money. One individual reported receiving a phone call only moments after casting her vote in her state’s recent primary, offering her a free three-day, two-night dream vacation in exchange for providing information about herself.
Whether it’s nabbing your identity or stealing your money, scammers have contacted consumers across the country under the guise of taking polls, collecting campaign contributions, or other similar themes. Remember to avoid these scams in the same way you’d avoid any other cold-call “charitable” organization: protect your identity and never share your sensitive details, and make your contributions yourself to a verified agency instead of to a telemarketer.
Protecting yourself can seem like a never-ending battle, and in some ways it’s good to think in those terms. Scammers certainly aren’t taking a day off when it comes to finding new ways to break the law, so consumers have to stay on guard in order to avoid becoming their next victim.
Eva Velasquez is CEO and president of the Identity Theft Resource Center.