Folks who open their first bank accounts and get their first credit cards are often the targets of specific forms of fraud. But while the victims are most commonly college students and service members between the ages of 18 to 24, ANYONE can benefit from having these ten scams on their radar. Thankfully, just knowing that they exist can protect you from financial—and even legal—catastrophe.
1. Card Cracking
If someone asks for access to your bank account or credit card, just say no. They'll tell you that they're depositing checks and that you'll get a cut of the money, but those checks will bounce and you'll be responsible for paying it back. Even if you claim your card was stolen, it could open an investigation, and if you willingly handed over your information, you can be criminally liable. Not worth the risk! Check out our current blog on Card Cracking.
2. Fake IRS
No one from the IRS will call you, text you, send you an email, or message you on social media. They'll send you an official notice in the mail, and you can call the IRS directly to verify it.
3. Fake Tech Support Scam
If you use a Microsoft computer, you might get a call or message from a fake tech support service that wants to take control of your computer through remote access. If you didn't reach out to a tech support service, then it's a safe bet that it's a scam. Do not let them into your computer!
4. Fake Student Loans and Scholarships
Before you provide any information or pay any fees, make sure a loan relief or scholarship opportunity is legitimate. Verify through independent sources, but red flags include:
- Essay requirements are extremely short or nonexistent.
- The opportunity is a sweepstakes or granted at random.
- They need a social security number.
- It's given out every week or month.
5. Identity Theft
Anyone can fall victim to this one, as the fraud is normally perpetrated without the victim knowing or being "tricked" in any way. To spot this scam early, check your credit card and bank statements every week, and check your credit report once per year. If you see anything fishy, report it!
6. Behavioral Blackmail
If someone has a compromising photo or video of you, they can use it to try and extort money, sexual favors, and beyond. Whether an unclothed photo, a drunken video, or anything that can affect your future, college students are a major target for this fraud. Avoid sending intimate photos to anyone, but especially don't send them to strangers on dating apps.
7. Rental Scam
When you're posting an ad: You could post an available room for a potential new roommate, then receive a message from an interested party. They'll send you a check to lock down the place – but the check is higher than necessary. "Oh, no worries," they'll say. "Just Venmo me the difference." You do, the fraudster disappears, the check bounces, and you're out whatever amount of money you transferred to their account.
When you're answering an ad: You're told that they can't show you the unit right now, but if you send them a deposit, they can hold the apartment for you until they're able to show the place. You send them the "refundable deposit," then never hear back. Don't pay for anything—application fee, deposit, or first month's rent—until you get a tour of the place.
8. Fake Website Scams
Fraudsters can now create convincing emails made to look like they're from legitimate companies. It might say that it's from PayPal and look like it's from PayPal, but the email address isn't right, or the landing page is off.
If the email asks for a reply with your personal information, it's not from PayPal, and they won't send you anything with attachments. If you get to a landing page, double-check the URL. Open a new tab and go to PayPal separately. The landing page can be faked, which means it only serves one purpose: to steal the login information you type in.
9. Reshipping "Work from Home" Scam
This is a common one on freelance websites, but it's even more commonly advertised toward college students. The job offer usually involves receiving packages in the mail, repackaging them, then shipping them to a different address. Sounds easy enough… But why would someone need you to be the impromptu distribution center? Because they're buying the items with stolen credit cards, and you're the one receiving and sending those items.
Yep, you'll suddenly find yourself as an unwitting coconspirator in a credit card theft scheme. Worse yet, the perpetrator might be halfway around the world, leaving you to take on the criminal justice system solo when it inevitably comes knocking.
10. Rideshare Scam
When you order a Lyft, Uber, or any rideshare car, make sure it's the right car. They'll include the license plate number on top of the make and model. Confirm the name of the driver as well. Rideshare scammers will drive to hotspots to try and pick up people waiting for their rides. Getting in the car with someone outside of the app is extremely dangerous!
Sometimes, rideshare drivers can be the scammers, especially if they believe the passenger is intoxicated. This could mean going on a winding route to increase the price, charging a cleaning fee for no reason, and beyond.
Further, over 3,000 Uber passengers reported being sexually assaulted in 2018. Have your phone at the ready to call 9-1-1, and consider setting your drop-off location to a nearby address rather than your home.
MyPoint Credit Union places your financial security a priority. If you suspect suspicious activity on your account, contact us right away at 1-888-495-3400.