Identity theft is the most common scam reported to the Federal Trade Commission. In 2020, it accounted for nearly 30% of all scams reported. Identity fraud losses in 2020 hit $56 billion – that’s $13 billion for traditional identity fraud and $43 billion for identity fraud scams. What’s the difference?
- Traditional identity fraud: Scamsters pull data from digital channels, often using malware to hack
- Identity fraud scams: Scamsters contact consumers directly via phone, email, social media.
So how do you protect yourself overall? Don’t trust. Verify.
- If you’re contacted by an institution (bank, broker, government entity), hang up the phone and call that institution directly.
- Use two-factor authentication. It takes a little longer, but it’s worth it for protection.
- Sign up for account alerts.
- Secure your devices and networks: Don’t use public wifi, use VPNs, install a screen lock and password on your smartphone and computer.
- Protect your credit: Check it often through Online Banking.
- Sign up for Identity Theft Protection with tnConnect.
Here are five scams to watch out for and what you should do to protect yourself.
- Counterfeit Shopping Sites: Plug the URL of any suspicious site into whois.com to see who created the site and how long it’s existed.
- Natural Disaster Scams: Verify any charity asking for money is real at charitynavigator.org or guidestar.org.
- Data Breaches: Check your credit report regularly using credit score via SavvyMoney to ensure that the information on file is yours.
- Social Media Solicitations: Watch out for new friends and followers who shower you with attention then ask for real money. Unfollow. Stop communicating.
- Crypto Payment Scams: This scam involves someone pretending to be the government or from law enforcement and directs you to withdraw money, then buy cryptocurrency for them to steal. – Hang up the phone or stop emailing with them. No government or law enforcement agency will ask to be paid in crypto.