Just like a fisherman throws bait into the water to catch the big one, scammers go phishing as well...for consumers.
They'll contact you by email, phone, or text, pretending to be a friend, colleague or business. The goal is to get your personal information.
Emails or texts will usually contain a link to "verify your account". Don't.
Instead, contact the business or person directly to make sure they're for real. Otherwise you might be tempted to give them sensitive information.
The most popular phishing scam by phone is called “Can You Hear Me.” Criminals pretending to be sales people call and secretly record you, saying something like this: "Hi this is Josh from the consumer department. Can you hear me okay?"
Answer yes, the scammer calls back demanding payment…using that recording as proof you agreed to pay for goods or services.
Another big scam: fake or disreputable online shopping sites. You purchase something from an unknown website and it never gets delivered, is damaged or counterfeit. Then just try getting in touch with them.
Always look up the company with the Better Business Bureau first, or Google them for reviews. And use a credit card. They typically cover fraud.
Then there's tax collection scams. Those complaints have nearly doubled since last year according to the BBB’s Scam Tracker.
You'll get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. They’ll say you owe money, and if you don't pay, you'll be arrested.
Well, the IRS will never contact you by phone. The best thing to do? Just hang up.