I've given some presentations to large college alumni groups about financial scams and fraud over the past couple of years so I wanted to share this timely warning from the FBI. It's important to be vigilant and to understand what to look for with scams of this nature. Generally speaking, the scammers will either attempt to scare you and create a sense of urgency, or they will approach you with some sort of reward or other award of money. This particular scam is an award of money. Please remember that you should never allow computer access to someone who contacts you. There are a number of ways you can receive a legitimate rebate or other award of money like a return of overpayment. Generally, a check mailed to you is what you should request. If they can't do that, they probably aren't legitimate.
General advice to avoid scams and fraud attempts.
- Be skeptical - maintain a watchful mindset.
- Never give out personally identifiable information.
- Social Security number
- Full name, birthdate or other personal details
- Bank or Investment account numbers
- Don't fall for appeals to your sense of urgency.
- Whatever it is can wait a few hours or days or it's probably not legitimate
- Confirm details on your own separately from the phone, email or text contact.
- If it's a real offer, the actual company or organization can confirm it
- Find the contact information on your own and without the direction of the person who contacted you.
- Let someone you trust know about it before taking any action.
- Ask them if they think it sounds like a scam.
Here's a link to the actual FBI Alert
Here's the copy from the alert...
Increase in Tech Support Scams Targeting Older Adults and Directing Victims to Send Cash through Shipping Companies
The FBI is warning the public of a recent nationwide uptick in technical support scams targeting older adults, where scammers instruct victims to send cash, wrapped in a magazine(s), via shipping companies.
Tech support scammers usually initiate contact with older adult victims through a phone call, text, email, or pop-up window purporting to be support from a legitimate company. The scammer informs the victim of fraudulent activity or potential refund for a subscription service. Subsequent emails, pop-ups, and texts contain a phone number for the victim to call for assistance. Once the victim calls the number, a scammer tells the victim they have a refund for the victim, however, the only way the money can be sent is by connecting to the victim's computer and depositing it into the victim's bank account.
The scammer tells the victim they can assist with the refund and convinces the victim to download a software program allowing the scammer remote access to the victim's computer. Once a connection is established, the victim is convinced to log on to their bank account. The scammer then supposedly transfers an amount to the victim's bank account but "accidently" deposits a much larger amount than intended. The scammer points this "error" out and tells the victim to return the extra money or the scammer will lose their job.
The scammer instructs the victim to send the money in cash, wrapped in a magazine(s), or similar method of concealment, via a shipping company to a name and address provided by the scammer. Most recently, scammers have instructed victims to ship packages containing money to pharmacies and retail businesses that are equipped to receive shipping company packages.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- Never download software at the request of an unknown individual who contacted you.
- Never allow an unknown individual who contacted you to have control of your computer.
- Do not click on unsolicited pop-ups, links sent via text messages, or email links or attachments. Do not contact the telephone number provided in a pop-up, text, or email.
- Never send cash via mail or shipping companies.
The FBI requests victims report these fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. Be sure to include as much information as possible:
- The name of the person or company that contacted you.
- Methods of communication used, to include websites, emails, and telephone numbers.
- The address where the cash was shipped and the recipient name(s).