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Drew: How to Fight Fraud

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

Last month’s articles explored different international scams being perpetrated by cybercriminals during the Russian invasion into Ukraine. These cybercriminals prey on the giving nature of the average individual during a war. Because this form of cybercriminal activity is so easy and lucrative due to technology, it bears further discussion and exploration.

This week’s article will begin a new series on how you, “John Q Public”, can fight back. Fighting back against information brokers, boiler room operators, money launderers, tech gurus and other scammers is crucial in securing your finances. The articles will explore current scams and suggestions on how to fight back.

The famous line from the book The Art of War by Sun-Tzu – “Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated” is applicable today even though the words were penned 2,500 years ago. Knowledge is always powerful in fighting back.

So, don’t be naive, there are real cyber thieves committing a real cyber war to steal your money no matter how old or young you may be. Again, technology has made it much easier for these criminals to access your information. Fraud begins with information about you.

In today’s world, your information can be easily purchased cheaply in an underground marketplace. Just think back over a few short years, to hearing/reading about huge companies where their customer’s information was breached such as Equifax, Target and most recently CashApp. Remember having to go to a link created by Equifax to see if your information was in the huge list of names whose personal information had been breached? So, it is real!

Let’s begin with a few of the top scams for 2022 happening in the U.S.:

  • GOOGLE VOICE SCAM – Let’s say you have posted a notice online (an item for sale, for example or a plea for a lost pet) and included your phone number. In this scam, the crook will call you, fake interest, but say they want to verify first that you are not a scammer. They will tell you that you are about to receive a verification code from Google Voice (their virtual telephone number and text service) sent to you and ask you to read it back. What’s really occurring is they are setting up a Google Voice account in your name. “They can then go on and impersonate you, hiding their virtual footprint from law enforcement” says Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

FIGHTING BACK:

Velasquez says to “Never share verification codes with anyone” and further says, “If you have fallen for this scam, you will find steps to reclaim your account at the Google Voice Help Center (online at support.google.com/voice).”

  • P2P REQUESTS – Scammers are increasingly demanding payment via money transfer apps like CashApp, Zelle, and Venmo. It is so convenient because you can pay in seconds from your telephone or computer. Note, usually these types of payments cannot be canceled.

FIGHTING BACK:

Only use P2P apps to send money to friends and family. Also turn on the security lock feature that requires entering a passcode to make a payment.

As we continue to explore new technology and timeless greed scams, it is crucial you have the knowledge base to fight back in a fast-growing and ever-expanding fraud industry. This is why I am using current information from safety experts such as the Identity Theft Resource Center, a special fraud edition of AARP and other reputable sources to help you Keep an Eye on Safety.