A new year brings fresh opportunities and a reason for hope. Whether you are looking for love, a new job, to make a connection, or get a fresh start, you need to be careful when pursuing those endeavors online. 2024 brings new chances for everyone, even scammers.
With that in mind, our latest blog post covers the most common scams that you should be aware of in 2024. Most notably, we are covering romance fraud, fake jobs, impersonation cons, and fake loans. We will identify what you need to look out for, what you can do to protect yourself, and start this new year with your best foot forward.
Online dating has helped millions of people find connections. However, it has left others vulnerable to scam artists. In 2022, approximately 70,000 individuals filed reports of being victims of romance scams, with the total reported financial losses reaching an astonishing $1.3 billion.
Romance fraudsters will lure people with attractive profiles and promise them love and connection to scam them out of money. One tactic they use is to fabricate a crisis and ask you for money, claiming that only you can help. They may also promise to meet up with you if you send them money.
Another way romance scammers operate is through blackmail. They will encourage you to send them private images. If you do, they will threaten to publish those images unless you pay them. To avoid being a victim, ensure you do the following:
- Use reverse image search tools like Tineye or Google Images to verify their identity. .
- Do not send money or private images to anyone you do not know.
- Talk to family and friends if you feel suspicious.
- If you verify that someone is a scammer, promptly block them. Having further communication with fraudsters can be dangerous.
Fake Job Scams
With the rise of remote work, online opportunities have become commonplace. Online fraudsters have noticed this, and are using this as an opportunity to take advantage. Fake job scams usually involve a false advertisement online or through social media. They will then operate in one of two ways. Either they will request a payment to submit a job application, or they will request that you log into a platform to do a skills check. This platform will be a fake website which will install malware onto your computer.
Once this happens, the scammers can either access your financial details through spyware, or lock you outside of your computer and force you to pay them.This is known as ransomware. Microsoft recently announced that hackers had been contacting IT professionals through LinkedIn to get them to sign into a website that was pretending to be a job assessment, which installed malware onto applicants’ devices.
Finding work can be hard enough as it is. To protect yourself while job hunting, make sure you do the following:
- Never give anyone money for a job application. There are no jobs that need potential hires to pay them for the opportunity to work there.
- Always verify if a position is open on the company’s website before you apply.
- Verify any links you are sent through Google’s Transparency Report Safe Browsing feature, where you can copy and paste a link and receive a report of its legitimacy through Google.
- Keep up-to-date with the latest online fraud through our anti fraud news blog.
Impersonation scams involve fraudsters posing as official entities, like banks or government entities. In 2022, the United Kingdom reported 45,367 instances of this impersonation fraud, resulting in total losses amounting to £177.6 million ($223 million).
Usually, these schemes try to get you to provide key information that the scammer can then use to access your accounts. The contact can come through phone calls, emails, or text messages. They often urge immediate action, exploiting a sense of urgency and panic to discourage you from questioning their requests. This fraud can also try to get you to click a link to verify your account or to transfer money into a specific account to protect it.
Impersonation scams can even send you text messages in a previous text chain from your bank to make them seem legitimate. Impersonation fraud can even take the form of someone pretending to be your friends, family, or colleagues at work. They will often contact you through email, with the same name as someone close to you, and try to get you to send them money for an emergency.
To protect yourself from these scams, make sure you do the following:
- Never send anyone a One-Time Password (OTP). No legitimate bank official would need that information, and OTPs are designed to protect your account by giving you the power of verification.
- If someone claiming to be a representative from your bank contacts you and is rushing you to take action, pause and assess the situation. Instead of responding immediately, call your bank directly on a verified number to discuss the issue. This approach also applies to contacts from service providers or government officials. Always ensure you are communicating with a legitimate representative.
- If you receive an urgent email from someone you know asking for money, take a moment to verify its authenticity. Start by checking the sender’s email address; scammers cannot mimic a legitimate email address exactly. As mentioned earlier, it’s safer to call the person directly to confirm if the email truly came from them.
Loan fraud uses people’s hopes for a better future to steal money from them. Loan scams will pretend to be a bank or another financial institution. They will offer too-good-to-be-true opportunities to try and get people to apply for loans. Loan scams have a few goals: firstly, they are trying to get your personal or financial information. They may also try to get access to your accounts, or get your money upfront and not provide anything back to you.
To avoid falling victim to loan fraud you can do the following:
- Do your research online to ensure the company you are looking to gain a loan from is legitimate.
- Do not make an upfront payment before you receive any documentation.
- Make sure you pay attention to any documents you are asked to sign.
- Look for a physical address and contact information. If the company is legitimate, they will have a physical address that should be easy to find online. Be careful if the company only has a P.O. box.
Avoid Being Scammed In 2024
As we begin the new year, it is important to be observant and keep up to date with the latest threats we face. The Anti-Scam Alliance, a collection of websites dedicated to informing the public about the dangers of online fraud, is a crucial tool that you can use to stay vigilant and informed. While we have covered the top scams you need to be aware of, there are always more threats out there.
We wish you luck, safety, and prosperity for the new year. Remember to keep up to date with the latest scams by checking our blog for the latest anti-fraud news!