Scam artists use clever schemes to defraud millions of people around the globe each year. Being on guard online can help you maximize the benefits of the internet and minimize your chance of being defrauded. Learn how to recognize common scams and what you can do to avoid them. The information below is courtesy of On Guard Online, a government website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online. Visit On Guard Online for more information.
The summer heat wave is blasting people across the country, but don’t let your fried brain trick you into believing a new scam spreading across the country. For example, Dayton Power & Light in Ohio says customers have been calling in to report a trickster who’s telling people President Obama will pay their utility bills as part of a bailout plan. The scammers are asking people to register for the program, and provide personal and financial information in the process. The whole thing is a sham, says DP&L, according to the Dayton Daily News. Other reports of such scams have been popping up elsewhere, including New Jersey, California, Wisconsin, Florida and many other states.
“The scammers are simply fishing for personal information as part of the identity theft fraud. Unfortunately, many victims received forwarded emails or text messages from friends and family,” said DP&L spokeswoman Lesley Sprigg. “The scam uses email, Twitter, phone calls and even door-to-door visits. Sometimes, utility customers are asked to provide the number on the back of their Social Security cards. It is a way to get Social Security numbers, bank account or routing numbers to use in identity theft.”
The scammer is assuring targets that the bills will be paid off, and have even been providing a bogus confirmation numbers. Victims are realizing soon enough that no, the bill has not been paid, and yes, they still must pay it. And in the process, scammers are stealing money from victims’ bank accounts using the personal information.
As always, never give out personal information like a Social Security Number or bank account numbers over the phone from anyone who calls you. DP&L says anyone getting a call from someone claiming to be part of the program or claiming to be from DP&L should hang up and call the utility’s customer service number at 800-433-8500. If you’re in another state, make sure to contact your utility company as well.
Don’t fall for ‘Obama will pay electric bill scam,’ warns DP&L [Dayton Daily News]
Thousands of Americans fall victim to utility payment scam [Associated Press]
When internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information, it’s called phishing. Don’t reply to email, text, or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information. Don’t click on links within them either – even if the message seems to be from an organization you trust. It isn’t. Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels.
Test your knowledge of Phishing Scams with a game!
Common Online Scams
Scammers use email, online ads, pop ups, and search results to trick you into sending them money and personal information. One way to outsmart them? Use your email’s spam filter to screen the email you get. Then forward any email that seems suspicious to email@example.com.
Weight Loss Claims
Lotteries and Sweepstakes Scams
Fake Check Scams
Mystery Shopper Scams
Bogus Apartment Rentals
Debt Relief Scams
Pay-in-Advance Credit Offers
The “Nigerian” Email Scam