Identity theft is a serious crime. According to the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 560,000 cases of identity theft were reported nationwide in the first half of 2023 alone. As thieves are looking for more ways to steal information and money from unsuspecting consumers, SAFE Credit Union is staying one step ahead of the fraud game to bring you the most recent trending scams and ways to avoid being at a loss.
AI Phone Scams
Our first scam is the AI phone scam. With advancements in AI technology, identity thieves can now change their voice to sound like someone we may know. Currently, 1 in every 4 Americans have been impacted by an AI phone scam and 77% victims have lost money. They claim to be a family member or a friend by cloning their voice and masking their phone number to match a familiar one. There are tools that can be used to translate an audio file found online into a replica of a voice. This person may call in duress and may ask for some type of financial assistance. These requests tend to be urgent and request money to be sent in different forms such as gift cards, P2P applications like Venmo or CashApp, wire transfer or depositing of funds into an account. To avoid falling victim to one of these scams, use these Savvy tips to stay SAFE:
- Listen for unnatural pauses or distorted voices
- Scammers can “mask” phone numbers to look like ones we recognize, reach out to the person or company directly
- Beware of urgent requests
- Set a special passphrase with members of your family
- Limit the information you share on social media
Payday Loan Scams
With current economic conditions, including inflation and rate increases, identity thieves are hoping to use the stress of consumers to their advantage. Payday loan scams are just that. They are posed to those who may be facing financial impact in the hopes to relieve consumers from debt or to give them extra money to help with their finances. They promise fast cash and require personal information to get started. These offers can pop up through social media, email, or text message. Scammers use legitimate information stolen from lenders to create a sense of urgency and trust in the payday loan lender. They may also pose as debt collectors and ask for payments upfront. It is important to understand the risk in using payday loans and how to protect your information so that you do not fall victim. These Savvy tips will help you be proactive and avoid being scammed:
Payday Loan Basics:
- These types of loans tend to prey on those with lower credit scores
- On average, the interest rate of payday loans can be as high as 372% (CA Department of Justice)
- They have access to your account information
- If not paid back in the agreed upon time, lenders can continue trying to pull money from your account which can lead to a significant amount of fees
- Double check emails posing as lenders, these shouldn’t come from Gmail or Yahoo emails.
- Do not provide personal information such as full name, phone number, email, address, or social security number.
- If you are at your wits end with managing your finances, you are not alone. Reach out to your lenders about your options to reframe your payment schedules, check out our financial webinars to increase your financial literacy, review your rates to see if you can’t save additional money by refinancing or consolidating debt, and research local nonprofit organizations with assistance from food pantries, clothing closets, or childcare.
It can be exciting to meet someone new, but those butterflies are cut short when someone is scammed out of their hard-earned money. There has been an increase in fraud from online relationships over the last few years. In 2022, nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam. These thieves claim to be in jail, hurt, or sick or that they can show you how to invest. Victims may be looking to settle down, lonely, or recently widowed. 40% of those who lost money to a romance scam said the initial contact started on social media. Scammers use this to take advantage of innocent people. Here are some red flags to be aware of:
- Avoids meeting in person or on video chat
- Sense of urgency to provide information
- Promises to be together forever including marriage, children, and moving together
- Increased interest in finances
Stay SAFE with these Savvy Tips:
- Be wary of messages sent from strangers through social media
- Claims that they are injured, sick, in jail, or that they can teach you about investing
- Never share your personal information online with strangers
- Don’t fall victim due to emotions
- Purchase an online protection software
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, it is crucial to contact your financial institution immediately. It is also recommended to pull your credit reports from all three credit bureaus to confirm nothing is out of the ordinary. Report inconsistencies as soon as you find them and look into freezing your credit for further protection. You have protections as a consumer, and SAFE Credit Union is here to provide assistance.
Check out similar tips on how to “Keep Your Identity SAFE.”
Financial Wellness Webinars.
Listen to the Perfect Cents Podcast for more tips!
AI Sources: https://www.mcafee.com/zh-tw/consumer-corporate/newsroom/press-releases/press-release.html?news_id=5aa0d525-c1ae-4b1e-a1b7-dc499410c5a1#:~:text=McAfee%20surveyed%207%2C054%20people%20from,lost%20money%20as%20a%20result
Payday Loan Sources: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2022/08/31/payday-loan-scams/7953234001/