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Top 3 Fraud Scams in 2021 & How to Protect Yourself

In 2021 we have seen many ways that scammers are working to take advantage of good, hard working people. We have collected our experiences and recorded for you the warning signs and tips to protect you from 3 of the most prevalent scams happening now. 

Unemployment Fraud -  Scammers using information to apply for unemployment benefits

The State Workforce Agency (SWA) will not contact you out of the blue. SWAs will not send a text message or email inviting you to apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. If you get an unsolicited text or email message that looks like it’s from an SWA, there are 4 ways to protect yourself.

Never click links in an unexpected text message or email claiming to be from the State Workforce Agency. 

• If you have applied for UI benefits and get a text or email about your application, contact your SWA directly using contact information from the official website. 

• If you need to apply for UI benefits, use File a Claim | Department of Labor & Employment (colorado.gov) for your UI application page. Follow the directions you find there. 

• If you gave someone your sensitive information, visit IdentityTheft.gov to learn how to protect your credit from scammers or, if necessary, report that someone has misused your personal information to claim UI benefits. 

If you get a suspicious text message or email message claiming to be from SWA, please report it to the FTC. And please, tell the people you know about this scam. By sharing the information, you can help defeat the scammers. 

Tech Support Scams - How to Recognize and Avoid Computer Repair and Tech Support Scammers

Tech Support scams happen when a scammer promises to provide someone with added security, support, or aid in correcting a problem related to your computer hardware, software or other peripheral devices connected to your computer or in your home. The scams are initiated through pop-ups, fake websites, embedded in search results, and via email. Most of the scammers pose as representatives or technicians from a technical support department for a known and trusted provider of software and hardware.

If tech support scammers are in possession of your personal information, identity theft may occur. How do scams lead to identity theft? 

The Link Between a Scam and Identity Theft

Even if you haven’t given the scammers your personal information, the key thing to remember is that if they have targeted you, called you, emailed you or contacted you in any way, it’s possible they already are in possession of some or all of your personal information. This could have been a result of a past data breach you are unaware of, a result of answering fake surveys, mistakenly clicking on malware, or as a result of your information being sold on the dark web where scammers often buy and sell personal and financial information. 

They Want You to Call Them

This tech support scam often uses a pop-up that comes on to your computer screen appearing to be a legitimate warning or alert from a trusted source like Microsoft or Apple, or from well-known antivirus companies like Norton or McAfee. It can also appear to be a warning from your operating system alerting you to a problem or imminent threat. The alert usually lists a phone number to help you resolve a fraudulent problem or directs you to a scam website disguised and designed to look like one of the trusted sources.

The alert is a fabrication. The phone number connects you to the scammer. Like many scammers, they caution you not to shut down or restart your computer. That’s exactly what you should do. It’s possible that the scammer is uploading a virus to your computer or using malware to comb information from your hard drive while you are looking at this message. 

4 Tips to Protect Yourself Against Tech Support Scams 

Never give control of your computer to someone who contacts you out of the blue. Criminals can spoof phone numbers, so you can’t rely on Caller ID. Avoid giving anyone you don’t know access to your computer, or your debit/credit card information. 

Don’t click links in unsolicited pop-ups or emails. If an unknown pop-up appears on your screen, avoid clicking on any links. The same is true for unsolicited emails. Instead, navigate to the company’s site by typing in their URL. 

Maintain your anti-virus software. Use trusted anti-virus security software and make sure to update it regularly. 

Recognize legitimate tech companies. Legitimate companies won’t contact you by phone, email or text message to say there’s a problem with your computer. Security pop-up warnings from real tech companies won’t ask you to call a phone number. 

Job Scam Fraud 

About 14 million people are caught up in employment scams every year, according to the Better Business Bureau, and people who are unfamiliar with job scams are most likely to lose money to them. In 2020 alone, BBB reports that fraudsters cost victims an estimated $2 billion. 

3 Job Scam Warning Signs - Too Good to Be True

Like your mom always said, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some warning signs that the “job” is fake. 

• Vague Job Requirements and Job Description: Scammers try to make their emails sound believable by listing job requirements. Usually, these requirements are so ridiculously simple that almost everyone qualifies: Must be 18 years old. Must be a citizen. Must have access to the internet. Job scam emails usually don’t include clear job descriptions, either. Many job seekers say that when they ask for a job description or list of job duties, they get the brush-off. The interviewer either ignores the questions or says something like, “Don’t worry, we’ll train you.” 

• Unprofessional Emails: Some emails from scammers are well-written, but many aren’t. Real companies hire professionals who can write well. If the email contains spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or grammatical mistakes, be on your guard. 

• Sending Money or Using a Personal Bank Account: Some have received checks that look like real cashier’s checks. They Are instructed to deposit the check, keep some of the money for themselves, and send the rest of the money to some- one else via Western Union or MoneyGram. Then, a few days later, they get a call from the bank saying the check is fake.They have lost the money they sent.

4 Steps to Take to Avoid a Job Scam 

Before you accept a job offer, and certainly before you pay for one, take these steps to protect yourself from job scams. 

• Do an online search. Look up the name of the company or the person who’s hiring you, plus the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” You might find out they’ve scammed other people.

• Talk to someone you trust. Describe the offer to them. What do they think? This also helps give you vital time to think about the offer. 

• Don’t pay for the promise of a job. Legitimate employers, including the federal government, will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer. 

• Never bank on a “cleared” check. No legitimate potential employer will ever send you a check and then tell you to send in part of the money, or buy gift cards with it. That’s a fake check scam. The check will bounce, and the bank will want you to repay the amount of the fake check.

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