January 20, 2022

Scams to look out for in 2022

Written by kevin-c

Online Safety

Like the old saying goes, "New Year, new scams." Or, rather, a mix of new and old classics with a new coat of paint slapped on 'em. Luckily we're here to spread the word, courtesy of the FTC website scam tracker. Here are some of the more recent scams being tracked by the FTC:

Cryptocurrency scams

Cryptocurrency  (usually shortened to "crypto") is digital or virtual money that uses cryptography to secure transactions --- aka Bitcoin, Etherium, and literally hundreds of others.Given the unpredictable volatility of the crypto market, it's tempting to just suggest staying away from anything with the word "crypto" on it in general. Which, not coincidentally, is exactly what the FTC recommends, in this handy graphic:

The specific scam going around with crypto at the moment goes like this: The scammer gets you to withdraw money from your bank account, or investment fund, etc. Then they direct you to an ATM that allows you to purchase cryptocurrency with your money, and they send you a QR code to transfer the crypto coins to them.Once you scan it, your money is gone. And due to the nature of cryptocurrency, there's no way to track or trace the scammer. Your money is simply gone. So, read that graphic again and avoid anything to do with cryptocurrency.

Post-disaster scams

A particularly immoral type of scam that targets both the victims of disasters, as well as charitable people trying to help with post-disaster recovery.Some scams are specifically targeting people who survived the recent devastating tornadoes that served their way through Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri. If you are, or know people who were affected, look out for these:

  • Unlicensed contractors and scammers often show up after natural disasters and promise quick repairs, clean-up, and debris removal. But if you hire them, they take your money and then don’t do the work. Contact your insurance company to make sure you know what is and is not covered. And if they ask you for money up front --- it's a scam. And never ever ever pay for clean up with cash --- use a credit card.

  • Some scammers pretend to be government officials, safety inspectors or utility workers who say immediate work is required. Ask for IDs. If anyone asks you for money or your financial information, like your bank account number, it’s a scam.

  • A very important thing to note is that FEMA does not charge application fees. If someone approaches you offering help to qualify for FEMA funds, they may be trying to scam you.

Fake Covid tests

Yup, you read that correctly. Fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits are popping up online, taking advantage of people's very real and justifiable fears of Covid. Using fake tests doesn't just waste your money --- it also increases the spread of Covid itself. So keep these things in mind:Check to make sure the test is one authorized by the Food & Drug Administration --- there are lists of antigen diagnostic tests and molecular diagnostic tests on the FDA site. Look up reviews of the company or product online to see if there's any complaints. And as usual: don't pay with cash. You can always dispute a credit card charge.

And remember ---  if you or anyone you know has fallen victim to a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.