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Although you may not be aware, there are many scams identity thieves use to get information about you. These scams are created to deceive victims into voluntarily providing personal identifying information about them. Here are some common scams used by identity thieves, as well as tips to prevent being a victim.

Online Phishing Scam

A Phishing scam occurs when an identity thief sends you an email, pretending to be from an established business, usually a bank or credit card provider. The email usually contains a clickable link with a message informing the recipient that there is a problem with their account. The link opens up a phony website, usually resembling the login page of the impersonated business, which is used to gather the recipients account information. Recipients are often convinced that the email and link is authentic because the design and logos are similar to those used by the business.

Preventative Tips:

  • Be Cautious. Never open emails from senders you don’t know or trust.
  • Return Address. Look at the sender’s email address; sometimes they forget to disguise this to resemble that of the business they are pretending to be.
  • Call First. If you receive an email stating there is a problem with one of your accounts, call the company first to verify the email is authentic before entering any information.

Phone Phishing Scam

Another way to use a phishing scam is over the phone. Telephone phishing scams occur when an identity thief sends you an automated voice message, pretending to be from an established business, usually a bank or credit card provider. The voice message usually informs the recipient that there is a problem with their account and provides a callback number for them to handle the problem. The problem is that the callback number is phony; the caller is usually sent to an interactive voice system, which prompts them to enter personal and account information. Thieves often use fake caller-ID numbers in order to convince the recipient in believing the call is real.

Preventative Tips:

  • Listen Carefully. When companies need to contact you about a problem with your account, they will normally refer to the last 4 numbers on the account as a reference.
  • Direct Contact. If you receive a call about a problem with your account, contact the company directly before using any callback numbers.
  • Investigate. Before calling the callback number, try to figure out if the problem is real. Look at up your account activity online to see if you can identify problem on your own.

Soliciting Scam

A soliciting scam occurs when an identity thief gets your information by pretending to sell you a product or service that doesn’t exist. This can be done by door-to-door sales or soliciting over the phone; whichever it may be, you will be left without what you receiving what you ordered. Thieves often convince their victims into a sale by offering a great price for a limited time only. The thief uses the personal and payment information they gathered from your sale to their advantage.

Preventative Tips:

  • Ask Questions. Ask the salesperson for their name, business license number, company phone number and any other information that you can use to verify the legitimacy of both the salesperson and the company.
  • Pay on Delivery. Don’t pay for any services until they have been received.
  • Don’t Get Pressured. Don’t get pressured into giving your information until you feel confident and have verified everything. Remember that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Free Prize Scam

The free prize scam is similar to a soliciting scam in that you are promised to receive something that doesn’t exist. With the free prize scam, the identity thief contacts the victim, by phone or email, pretending that they won a prize. Once the victim believes they have won a free prize, they are informed that they need to pay for shipping and handling to receive the item. Once the thief collects your payment information, you are left with a stolen identity and a prize that doesn’t exist.

Preventative Tips:

  • Don’t Be Pressured. Thieves often pressure victims by telling them that they have a short time to retrieve their prize; this is just a lure.
  • Ask Questions. Ask for verification on the prize and company offering you the gift to make sure everything is legitimate. If it is a real business, you should contact the company to verify that the person contacting you is a part of the company.
  • C.O.D. If it truly is a free prize, there should be no problem with you paying for shipping and handling when the item is received.

Interested in learning more? Read some common ways on how identities are stolen.