Most Common Financial Scams (continued)
Employment Scams -- All of the major employment websites and other popular websites where people can post job openings are full of bogus job ads submitted by thieves who are trying to lure victims in to giving them their personal information, particularly their social security numbers so that they can use that information to commit identity theft and tax fraud by filing a false tax return. Some of the thieves just want you to hand over your credit card information so they can bill you month after month for some nonsense service. The operators of employment websites do a very poor job prescreening those who post job openings at their websites, so do not assume that a job is legitimate just because it is posted at monster.com or some other big employment website. One should assume that if you respond to one of these ads and are immediately hired with no questions asked, it is probably an attempt to get your social security number and date of birth, which they will insist must be provided to them immediately if you want the job. Also, stay away from jobs that require you to pay a fee to get the job. They should be paying you to work for them!
Some thieves are so brazen they actually approach people at coffee shops, libraries, universities, etc. claiming to be recruiters from well-known companies. They will hand out employment applications that will ask for social security numbers. Once a thief has your social security number he can file false tax returns in your name and might also be able to obtain loans and credit in your name as well. An employer isn't supposed to ask your age (unless required to by law) and has no need to know your bank and credit card information.
Watch out for job offers that claim you can earn money from working at home as a medical biller or claims processor, stuffing envelopes or reshipper. Thieves use reshippers to obtain merchandise they have purchased with stolen credit cards.
Medical Device Scam -- Thieves use robocalls to target elderly people who are told that they are very likely to die all alone from a fall and they need to "press 1" to have a free medical alert device sent to them immediately. When the person presses 1, a live operator answers and tries to convince them that they need to sign up for expensive medical alert monitoring services so that, if they ever fall at home alone, they can alert the authorities. Some thieves even use the names of reputable companies. They might tell the victim that they are calling on behalf of a doctor or Medicare. They con the victim into giving up credit card or bank account information and clean out their accounts. Another version of this scam is the free scooter or power wheelchair advertisements where they claim that the government will pay for the scooter. Actually, the government will not pay for a scooter or wheelchair unless it is medically necessary. Unscrupulous companies might be more interested in getting you to give them your Medicare number and medical records so that they can fraudulently bill the government for fraudulent healthcare costs.
Robocalls -- A very recent robocall involved asking if you wanted a lower credit card rate to press 1. If you did, you would be asked for personal information and to pay a fee of sometimes as much as $3000 for a credit card or lower interest rate. Millions of these calls were sent out before the Federal Trade Commission finally stopped the companies behind them. Other robocalls might tell you you've won a free gift card or some other prize. The real purpose is to get you to surrender personal information, particularly your credit card or debit card information so they can clean you out. Almost all prerecorded telemarketing calls have been illegal since 2009. Only political parties and charities are allowed to use them. It is a good idea to just hang up on all of them, after all, they know you don't want to receive them and there is a very good chance they are being initiated by thieves and scammers. If you respond to a robocall in anyway, such as asking them to stop texting you or opting out of future calls, you are only telling them that they have a valid phone number and they will call you again and again or sell your number to third parties. Instead, take the measures outlined in our Scams - Fighting Back section or Identity Theft section.
Social Security Scam -- The social security scam is yet another scam targeting the elderly. Thieves contact retired individuals usually by mail or telephone and tell them that they are employees with the Social Security Administration and trick them in to giving out personal information which the thieves then use to reroute social security checks to another account. If you receive a phone call or any type of written correspondence purporting to come from the Social Security Administration, you can contact them directly at 800-722-1213 to verify its accuracy.
Christmas Scams -- Knowing that millions of people shop online during the holiday season, thieves create bogus websites that offer popular products and lure people in with great discounts. When a victim clicks on a website, malware might be downloaded, or the thieves might just want to steal your debit card and credit card information. Some of these websites will have names that closely resemble well-known retailers. Always carefully read the website address in the URL and if ordering online, the page should begin with "https" instead of "http".