Consumers lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, an increase of more than 70 percent over the previous year. Benchmark Federal Credit Union is urging Chester County residents to be alert and protect themselves from the following four new scams, including those related to Google and Amazon.
1. Fake Amazone Employee Scams
There have been increasing reports of scammers posing as Amazon employees and claiming they need verification about Amazon accounts. In fact, one-third of the reported business-imposter fraud complaints involve scammers claiming they’re from Amazon, according to the FTC. Emails or text messages may contain links to a website that looks like Amazon but is actually a fraudulent site. In reality, they are sent from an outside party attempting to access your personal information by getting you to open an attachment or link that contains malware or redirects to a dangerous website.
Scammers will phish for credit card information or other financial information. They may even ask for remote access to your computer to try to resolve an issue. Be skeptical of any unsolicited calls, emails or text messages that ask for personal information. Delete any messages or emails without clicking on links. In addition to reporting this to the FTC, you can also report scams relating to Amazon to email@example.com.
2. Google Voice Scams
This is the latest scam to use popular technology as a weapon. Scammers contact people with items listed for sale on popular sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and others. They say they want to purchase the item but are hesitant about being scammed. They tell unsuspecting targets they are getting a verification code from Google Voice that they want you to read back to them. The scammer then uses that information to set up a fake Google Voice account in your name. If someone asks you to do this, it is probably a scam.
3. P2P Payment Scams
You may be familiar with apps such as Venmo, Zelle, PayPal and Cash App, which are P2P (peer-to-peer) payment apps. They are a convenient way to send and receive money, but scammers are taking advantage of the popularity of these apps to steal money. The theft can take many different forms. It might be a request for payment via a P2P app for a fake product or service, such as tickets or marked-down merchandise. It may even be a scammer posing as a representative of the P2P company or your financial institution. If a scammer gets your personal information and accesses your account, it may result in unauthorized electronic funds transfers.
Most importantly, keep in mind that P2P apps don’t let you cancel a transaction once you’ve sent the money to another user. With that in mind, avoid sending or requesting money from anyone you don’t know and trust. If someone is pressuring you to act quickly, it may be a scam. P2P apps have measures in place to keep your account secure. Be sure to enable them. They might include multifactor authentication. If you suspect foul play regarding your account, get in touch with your financial institution immediately. Contact the P2P company as well and also report the scam to the FTC.
4. Cryptocurrency Scams
As cryptocurrency gets more attention, scams related to digital currency increase. The FTC warns that if you see a text, email or message on social media that encourages you to pay upfront with cryptocurrency, it is a scam. Only scammers will demand payment for something with cryptocurrency in advance. Investment scams are one of the leading cryptocurrency scams, with crypto used as an investment and also as a payment. Cryptocurrency scammers are posing as investment managers and even celebrities who claim they can multiply your cryptocurrency once you transfer it into their online account. Don’t fall victim to the big claims that cryptocurrency scammers make.
Cryptocurrency scams can also involve fake contests or giveaways. The scammer may impersonate a well-known cryptocurrency website to lure targets into sending money or even sharing login information. The most recent cryptocurrency scam involves an impersonator, a QR code and a crypto ATM where victims are directed to send money. A scammer will encourage a victim to withdraw some cash and go to a crypto ATM with the intent of purchasing crypto. The scammer then shares a QR code that contains their crypto wallet address with the victim. Once the victim scans the code, the purchased crypto would transfer to the scammer’s account.
Benchmark FCU staff are highly trained to detect scams. Be sure to ask your bank or federal credit union about their anti-scam services, and be sure to use those services as you pursue new opportunities. Remember: No reputable financial institution will ever directly call, text, or email you to verify information or have you click on a link to do so. It is a violation of strict privacy policies. Instead, financial institutions like Benchmark FCU will leave you a recorded message asking you to return the call at your convenience. Check to be sure the phone number on the message matches the one you’ve always used for your financial institution, then return the call.
Another tip: Enable multifactor authentication whenever possible, and report scams to the FTC.
You can read more about scams in our blog “7 Ways to Recognize a Scam.”
Rebecca Worthington is the Vice President of Community Relations at Benchmark Federal Credit Union. The only federal credit union to exclusively serve Chester County, Benchmark FCU has been serving the community for more than 80 years and is known for providing extraordinary service. To learn more about the products and services available at Benchmark FCU, visit our website at BenchmarkFCU.org. Anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Chester County, PA is eligible to join Benchmark Federal Credit Union.