(WSPA) – As scammers get more sophisticated, it’s more important than ever that we know where we are most vulnerable.
In this consumer exclusive, I got expert advice on the Top 7 scam predictions for 2022.
30 billion dollars in phone scams, and 55 billion in identity fraud, that’s how much Americans lost last year alone to scammers.
And while it’s hard to know how they will strike next Steve Weisman, the cyber expert behind the website Scamicide, has a pulse on the Top 7 Scams to watch out for in 2022.
NUMBER 7: COUNTERFEIT SHOPPING SITES
The holidays were full of stories about bogus shopping sites, and Weisman says that’s only expected to get worse in the New Year.
“Some of those counterfeits are so good that it’s almost impossible to determine, and even if it turns up high on the google or search engine search, doesn’t mean it’s legitimate,” said Weisman.
Weisman recommends plugging in the “url” of any suspicious shopping site to the online resource www.WhoIs.com
That way you’ll know who created the site and how long it’s existed.
NUMBER 6: NATURAL DISASTER SCAMS
From deadly tornadoes to devastating wildfires, major natural disasters are making headlines more frequently and scammers use that to set up fake charities. The FBI warns always verify the charity is real with sources like Charity Navigator or GuideStar.
NUMBER 5: CRYPTOCURRENCY CONS
With the digital currency gaining in popularity, scammers are looking to cash in. So be leery of phony crypto offers, and hackers looking to tap into your digital wallet.
NUMBER 4: DATA BREACHES
On this one, Weisman doesn’t mince words.
“You are, not you may, you ARE going to be a victim of a major data breach next year. We all are,” he said.
Weisman is most concerned about ransomware scams like the one that recently hacked into Anmed Health. He says medical data is like gold on the black market. The credit reporting agency Experian warns “a single patient record can sell for upwards of $1000.
NUMBER 3: SOCIAL ENGINEERING SCAMS
That’s where con artists research your social media pages so they can tailor a scam to you.
Star Tummineli in Greenville says she was a target of this type of scam.
“I started following a guy on Tik Tok and as soon as I became friends with him a guy pretending to be him private messaged me saying that he works for a non-profit organization wanting me to send money,” she said.
There are also other examples, like romance scams where con artists use social media to learn about you and lure you into trusting (and even loving) them. And grandparents scams sniff out info about your family so they can threaten you to pay up.
NUMBER 2: THE INTERNET OF THINGS
From our TVs to toys to our security cameras, we’re becoming dependent on a lot of devices that are constantly connected to the internet.
Make sure you change default settings to set the highest security and make sure those listening devices are unplugged.
“We got rid of Alexa because we figure she’s listening all the time and just don’t trust her,” said Stan Metzger in Greenville.
NUMBER 1: SIM SWAPPING
Sim Swapping is a new sneaky way to get around your two-step authentication for mobile banking. Weisman explains how it works.
“They call your mobile phone carrier, they pretend they are you and they get your phone number shifted to their phone, and so in this way they are not only able to steal your password but have the phone to defeat dual factor authentication. So, this is something we’re just starting to see happening, it’s going to be worse in the upcoming year,” he said.
HOW DO YOU AVOID THESE SCAMS?
Here are the main steps to avoid some of these scams.
- Freeze your credit at all three credit agencies. It’s free and can save you from identity theft.
- Be sure to use two-step authentication for all your smart devices and mobile apps.
- Make sure you have unique and complex passwords for your most sensitive logins, including access to your account with your mobile carrier.