Financial scammers continue to evolve - and you need to be alert to avoid them. We’ve been seeing these scams trending lately: keep an eye out for them to avoid disaster.
If you’ve encountered any of these scams, please report them to the Federal Trade Commission website. And if you’re ever unsure - please contact us and our financial experts will help identify if something is credible.
1. Two Factor Authentication Scam
Most banks, credit cards and other websites handling sensitive information require you to set up two factor authentication or other verification methods to ensure your safety.
A current trending scam is for a bot to pose as your bank or credit card, and send you an email, text, or phone call asking you to authorize a suspicious charge. In order to do so, they will ask you to walk through the two factor authentication process.
In reality, this is a scammer trying to get into your account with the passcode your real bank/credit card company will send to your authentication method on file. Whenever you receive a suspicious charge notification, contact your bank or credit card company directly. Don’t trust a phone call, text or email unless you’ve verified: scammers can spoof numbers so it looks like it’s coming from a trusted source when it’s actually not.
2. Free Gift QR Code Scam
QR codes are used in legitimate ways - but unfortunately, they’re now being used in scams. The QR Code Scam often goes like this: you’ll receive a text or email that looks like it’s from a known business, with a “free gift” or “coupon” - all you have to do is scan the QR code below to activate. What actually happens is that when you scan or click on the QR code, the scammer uses malware or other tech to steal your information. Or they may send you to a spoof site that looks like the real thing, and steal your information that way once you engage.
There are two ways to avoid this scam: refuse to engage with QR codes entirely, or download a tool that will check QR codes for legitimacy (like the Kaspersky QR Scanner). We recommend the latter, because many real businesses will use QR codes to legitimately send you coupons or other offers.
3. “Wrong” or “New” Number Texts
In this scam, the scammer attempts to bypass your skepticism by waiting to execute the scam. You’ll receive a text from a new number, and it will claim to be a child, relative or friend texting from a “new phone.” This person will likely communicate with you over the next few days, with innocent conversation.
Eventually, they’ll ask for money - and it might seem so natural or so small an amount that you don’t even question it.
The best way to protect yourself against this scam is to communicate directly with the person asking for money. If you have alternate methods of communication, contact them through those channels to verify that this new phone number is actually legitimate. Try calling the phone number from the text. If you can’t verify it’s the person you know, don’t send them any money.
4. Fake Product Scams
This scam is popular around the holidays, especially as people seek out hard-to-find toys. This scam can actually take a few different forms, but the end result is the same: you lose out on money.
The most common is to list an item for sale on Facebook or other social media websites, and once you contact them they insist you send the money right away. Once you do, they’ll block you and pocket your money.
The other variation of this scam occurs on social media livestreams, where users will “sell” products live and ask viewers to send them money right away to secure the item. Like with the product posting, they’ll never actually send you the item.
If this happens, contact your bank or credit card company immediately. The best way to avoid these scams is to execute caution when purchasing items from strangers online: set up a secure meeting in person to hand-off items whenever possible.
5. Fake Customer Surveys
This is a particularly annoying scam because it can be hard to detect. It’s common for companies to solicit reviews through customer survey groups that offer gift cards or other cash incentives: and scammers know this. You’ll receive an email that looks like it’s a legitimate customer survey, asking you to submit feedback in exchange for a gift. They’ll often take you to an actual survey that looks legitimate.
The key differentiator here is what happens when you finish the survey. With the scam, you’ll be asked to submit your credit card information to cover shipping costs for your “gift.” With a legitimate customer survey, they will not ask you for your credit card information.
When In Doubt – Call Your Financial Advisor
Some scams are incredibly sophisticated, and it can be nearly impossible to tell if they’re legitimate or not. Whenever you run into this scenario, it’s the perfect time to give a financial advisor a call. They are extremely familiar with financial scams and their goal is to help you keep and grow your money, not part you from it.
Our financial advisors at Greater Midwest Financial Group are committed to helping you avoid financial scams and legitimately grow your personal wealth.
Greater Midwest Financial Group is a financial advisory firm serving St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the wider Twin Cities area. We specialize in wealth management, retirement planning, asset management, and other personal finance needs.