If you’re like me, it’s been a busy 2019 trying to keep up with all of the growth opportunities that the North Alabama community has prospered with. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same work ethic as you and myself; they like to take an easier route to riches through scams to take away people’s hard earned money. 

Scams have been around for thousands of years, but with the advent of technology and the daily flow of online information, their platforms have gone from shopping mall parking lots to your laptop in your living room!

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (idtheftcenter.org), here are some of the top scams of 2019 they have compiled:

  • Online Coupon scams: Publix, Costco, Kroger, and many others are happy to have you shop their stores, but they’re NOT giving you a $100 coupon on social media. Typically, the scam involves a “survey” on social media that requires your email address (which is then used to send you endless spam, while receiving a fake coupon as a reward).
  • Online Advertising scamsAs much as you or I are on the Internet, it’s amazing that we’re consistently the 1,000,000th person to visit this site and a reward is waiting for us with a simple click. Many of these scams use the copyrighted image of a particular company to make it look believable (Amazon is frequently targeted). Clicking the link will usually take you to a website that potentially install malicious software to take control of your computer.
  • Flipping scams: Flipping can also be referred to as the lazy man’s pyramid. In this scam, someone shows you a large pile of cash on social media and they brag how they made all this money without leaving their house. All you need to do is send for a “free guide” (which is usually an advertisement for paying for a much larger guide). This usually ends up with the scammer receiving your money.
  • Credit Monitoring Services scams: As part of the Equifax data breach settlement, they offered free credit monitoring services to people who were affected. Equifax provided a website to help you determine if you were affected. Unfortunately, scammers also may send an email looking like it came from Equifax with a link to see if you were affected – according to them, of course you were affected, and here’s a low-cost credit monitoring service you can use (and it’s difficult if not impossible to cancel!).
  • Tech Support scams: Right in the middle of visiting a website, you may get a red screen saying your computer has been infected with a really horrible virus, and you need to call 1-800-tek-help or something similar. They may request to get access to your computer and then charge you for the “cleanup”.

As you prepare for 2020 with your New Years Resolutions, resolve to be more cognizant of the dangers lurking online. Doing so may help you avoid some of these attacks from 2019 that will most likely be listed at the end of 2020. 

Christopher Grounds, Ph.D., CIPA, is a Certified Identity Protection Advisor with the Identity Management Institute, and is the co-owner of Benefits4Success with Joni Grounds, whose mission is to grow and protect individuals and small businesses. He can be reached at chris@benefits4success.com

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