December 2, 2022

2022 Scammer Round-up

Written by kevin-c

Online Safety

From time to time we post a blog about some of the many calling and texting scams being perpetrated by bad actors targeting phone users of all kinds (not just TextNow). We work very hard here to keep scammers and fraudsters off our platform, but with millions of messages and calls sent every day, it's a big job. All carriers are in the same boat of trying to restrict their platform to legitimate users.

And seeing as it’s now December, somehow, we're taking a fresh look at common Christmastime scams, and sharing a round up previous scam articles for the year so you can be prepared.

While many recent scams are high-tech in nature, involving newer technologies like cryptocurrency or NFTs, there are still plenty of low-tech ones to keep an eye out for, like:

The gift card peek scam

Scammers will take gift cards off the rack, scratch off the silver coating that protects the PIN code, record the code, then carefully apply a new coating in a way that leaves buyers none the wiser.

The scammer waits a day or two for the card to be purchased and activated, and the card number and PIN are ready for the scammer to use. The gift card recipient is left holding a dud. Low tech as it may be, it’s surprisingly prevalent.

The best way to stop this type of gift-card scam is to send your giftee an e-gift card from a trusted, safe site (like the Visa or Mastercard sites, or a gift card direct from Amazon.)

Counterfeiting scams

Normally counterfeiting refers to paper money. But here we’re talking about websites.

Scammers take advantage of shopper's desire for great deals by creating counterfeit websites that look like legitimate manufacturers or retail businesses offering too-good-to-be-true deals on popular items. These sites exist to get you to enter your credit card information and won’t ever send you the product.

They’ll use your credit card info to either withdraw money directly from it or use it to make other, legitimate purchases for themselves.

Online marketplace scams

By marketplace, I mean sites like Facebook Marketplace or eBay Classified. These sites are the modern-day equivalent of a newspaper’s classified ad section. Importantly, these sites do no investigation to see if the ads are on the up and up.

So, for example, you might see a PS5 or Taylor Swift tickets for what seems like an absurdly cheap price. Like the counterfeit scam above, the seller does not actually have these items for sale. If you’re buying from an online seller, at the bare minimum you should try to meet the seller in person at a safe location – if they refuse, it’s probably a scam.

While these three scams might be the most prevalent during the holidays, there’s more to look out for! If you want a more in-depth look at holiday-related and other scams, check out our other scammer round-ups from this year:

Scams May 2022: Deeper look at fraudulent bail scams, and what to do if a scammer texts you from your own number.

Scams June 2022: Info on home delivery scams and blocked credit card scams.

Scams July 2022:  A look at two classic scams: The “pump-and-dump" and the “rug pull.”

Tax season scams April 2022: Special report on tax scams, covering IRS impersonators, tax preparer scams, and debt consolidation scams.

Scams March 2022: A look at bitcoin scams and fake auto insurance scams.

Follow along in 2023 as we stay on top of the scams du jour!