Be on the Lookout for Online Scams

Be on the Lookout for Online Scams

by Brandon Miller on Nov 29, 2023


Be on the Lookout for Online Scams

Presented by Brio Financial Group

While the spooky season is officially over, there are still a lot of threats out there to be mindful of as scammers don’t take a holiday. According to the latest data, total losses reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) increased a whopping 84% in 2022 to $3.1 billion. This may be just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m sure most of us have gotten a scam text or two that are easily identifiable as such. The methods and scammers themselves are getting much more sophisticated. They also have a talent for appearing genuine, trustworthy, and convincing. They may make you feel like they genuinely care about your well-being and are trying to help.

So, what can you do? Be on guard! There is no shortage of tricks leading you to a fraudulent website. Others may impersonate loved ones, requesting financial assistance.

Tech and customer support schemes continued to be the most common type of fraud reported, while monetary losses due to investment fraud jumped 300%, largely due to the rising trend of crypto investment scams. For example, tech and customer support scammers take advantage of their victims’ unfamiliarity with technology and online banking to quickly take as much money as possible.

Some may be as simple as a call from “tech support” informing you that your computer has a virus. You don’t. This is a scam. No one will call you to inform you of an infected PC. They will claim to remove it for a fee, but they will also snoop around for relevant financial information, and you may unwittingly download malware that helps them track your every move.

Or, a pop-up message or blank screen on a computer tells the victim their device is damaged and needs fixing. A phone number to reach “tech support” is provided. Remember this: tech support won’t call you to tell you there are issues with your computer. If you get such a call, hang up. Ignore pop-up numbers. Just turn off your PC and turn it back on.

A small dose of prevention goes a long way.

It’s a difficult reality, but older folks are easier targets. There are steps we can take to fight back.

  1. Designate a trusted contact. This person has no authority over your accounts but is someone your financial institution may contact to discuss issues if they suspect something is awry.
  2. Be leery of unknown phone numbers. Signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry will reduce telemarking calls, but this does nothing to stop scammers. If you don’t recognize the number, be leery about who may be on the other line. Let it go to voicemail. Many are robocalls and don’t leave a message. Did the call come from a recognized firm you conduct business with? It may or may not be legitimate. It’s OK to call the company back using a phone number that you know is legit.
  3. Don’t click on links from unknown senders. Just don’t do it!
  4. You can also freeze your credit report with the three major credit rating agencies at no cost. This helps prevent accounts from being opened in your name without your knowledge. When the need arises, you may temporarily remove the freeze.

Understand their methods.

The following are some of the primary scams being used now to defraud folks.

  1. Investment scams promise quick riches and pressure you into accessing your retirement accounts, the equity in your home, or convince you to go into debt.
  2. The lottery/sweepstakes/inheritance scam falsely notifies individuals that they have won a cash prize or will receive an unexpected inheritance from a distant and previously unknown relative.
  3. There has been an increase in romance scams, which can be particularly challenging to identify, as the perpetrator creates a false online persona to gain the trust and affection of the victim. So be extra vigilant on Grindr, my peeps!

Once scammers earn your trust (and your heart), they start requesting money and won’t stop taking advantage of you until you cease sending them funds. You might think that this sounds implausible. Why would anyone send cash to someone they haven’t met and one that probably lives in another state? Well, lust clouds judgment, and there are countless stories of folks falling prey to this classic scam.

  • Scammers also call unsuspecting older adults and pretend to be from the IRS, Social Security, or Medicare. These organizations never make unsolicited phone calls. Hang up the phone.
  • This one is another biggie for older targets. The grandparent scam goes like this. “Hi, Grandma. Do you know who this is?” When the unaware grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer secures their trust. The fake grandchild then asks for money to solve some urgent financial problems (such as overdue rent, car repairs, or jail bonds).

As you can see, there is plenty to be aware of. And these are just some of the more prevalent scams that are used.

If the request looks out of the ordinary, that should be a red flag. It may turn out to be legitimate. But if not, caution and an ounce of prevention are worth their weight in gold.

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Brio Financial and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Brio Financial Group unless a client service agreement is in place.

Brio Financial Group is a registered investment adviser. SEC Registration does not constitute an endorsement of Brio by the SEC nor does it indicate that Brio has attained a particular level of skill or ability. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Brio Financial Group and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Brio Financial Group unless a client service agreement is in place.