by Barbara Nevins Taylor
Good news on the scam front, sort of. Reports of identity theft dropped slightly in 2016, according to the Federal Trade Commission‘s (FTC) annual roundup. Debt collection and imposter scams that use the telephone to invade your life like, “I’m calling from the IRS and I’m going to arrest you if you don’t pay immediately,” topped the list of ripoffs.
These imposters scams also include “The Grandparent Scam,” where someone calls and tells you that your grandchild needs money immediately. They direct you to go out and get a pre-paid card and send them money, or wire transfer money that you will never see again
Computer Tech Scam
In another variation, a scammer calls and poses as a computer technician and scares you about some fake problem. They ask you to give them access to your computer so they can fix things, then they install malware or make changes that allow them to steal personal and financial information.
Sometimes these tech scammers ask for credit card information to bill your phony services, or they ask you to visit websites that ask for your credit card number and other personal information.
The FTC’S Acting Director of Consumer Protection, Thomas Pahl, says, “Our latest data shows that imposter scams are a growing and serious problem.”
58 percent of those who reported losing money in one of these scams say they sent money through a wire transfer. 77 percent say the scammer made the first contact through a telephone call to their home. We also know now that scammers target mobile phones, too. So that’s something else to worry about.
The FTC urges everyone to view skeptically any caller who asks for money via wire transfer. The government will never ask you to send money that way and it is illegal for telemarketers to ask for a wire transfer.
The agency based the Top 10 List on more than 3.1 million consumer complaints. The most complaints came from Florida, Georgia and Michigan.
Top 2016 Scams
Telephone and Mobile Services
Banks and Lenders
Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries
Shop-At-Home and Catalog Sales
Auto Related Complaints
Television and Electronic Media
Listen to an IRS call
If one of these scammers contacts you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission, FTC.gov/complaint.