Impostor scams have long been among the most lucrative for scammers. While there are many variations of this scam, the most common variations have involved scammers calling their intended victims on the telephone posing as some governmental agency such as the IRS or the Social Security Administration. The scammer then, under a wide variety of pretenses, demands an immediate payment by gift cards, credit card or wired funds. Being asked to pay by gift cards is a definite indication that the call is a scam since no governmental agency requests or accepts payments by gift cards. Alternatively, the scammer demands the victim supply the phony governmental agent with personal information such as your Social Security number which will then be used for identity theft purposes.
Now, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this scam is evolving, particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic to the scammers calling and posing as a company, such as Amazon from whom you may have ordered merchandise online. In the common variation of this scam now occurring, the scammer informs you that your credit card has been charged a large amount for a purchase that apparently you did not make. They then provide a telephone number for customer service if you wish to dispute the phony order. When you call the customer service number you are asked to confirm your username, password and credit card information. Anyone providing this information to a scammer will soon find themselves a victim of identity theft as their credit card will be used by the scammer in short order.
As I have often reminded you, through the simple technique of “spoofing” it is very easy for a scammer to manipulate your Caller ID to make a call coming to you appear legitimate when it is not. Therefore you can never truly trust your Caller ID. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Never provide personal information to anyone who calls you unless you have absolutely confirmed that it is legitimate. In the case of this kind of impostor scam, you can’t trust the customer service number that they give you. Instead, if you think that the call might possibly be legitimate, you should hang up on the caller and contact the real company, such as Amazon either by phone or by email. You can get the proper contact information from the website of the company or a copy of any bill you may have from the company. You also can check your credit card records and if you find fraudulent charges, you can dispute them immediately.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.
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