There is not much that I hate more than scammers taking advantage of poor folks. I guess if there is one thing I hate more it is our Federal Government that is doing little, if anything, about it. They tell us they are working on it and I will share some of that in this article – but in my opinion it is not nearly enough. I will also share some of my thoughts as to what I think they could do that would help us all when it comes to this problem.
First, what are the top ten internet scams today?
Grandparent scam. This is a type of scam where the scammer pretends to be a grandchild or other relative in need of money. They may say they are in jail, need bail money, or have lost their wallet and need help getting home.
- I have never suffered this kind of scam. My grandkids know – and I know that they know – I am not giving them any money unless I see them in a hospital desperately in need. I have taught my kids to be self-sufficient and I’ve told my grandkids this. If my kids have not taught my grandkids to be self-sufficient, that is on them.
Tech support scam. This is a type of scam where the scammer calls you pretending to be from a tech company. They may say that there is a problem with your computer or other device and that they need to remote into your computer to fix it. Or you may simply be looking something up on the internet and get a “pop-up” that says something is wrong.
- I did suffer this kind of a scam. I was in business as a financial planner and was on the computer one day and got a pop-up on my trading platform that was on the internet at the time. It looked as though it came from Microsoft and suggested that I call a toll free number to take care of it.
- I called the number and the “indian named Joe” on the other end of the line suggested that I allow him to come on to my computer and he’d show me the problems. I did (only because I knew if I called Microsoft – like most companies today – the call would either be answered in India or Manilla). Joe showed me some errors and then offered to fix them for $129.00. I told him, no thanks, I’d call my companies technology department and have them fix it for free.
- Needless to say when I called the tech department I was read the “riot act.” I had just opened all my clients up to potential investment fraud. It seems that all Joe needed to do was install a “Keylogger” to log my keystrokes to pick up passwords and account numbers. I was told to shut down the computer, ship it overnight to the corporate office (they would ship me a loaner to be received the next day) immediately. They also automatically generated about 300 letters (one for each client) telling them that their personal information may have been stolen and suggested that they check their credit reports and investment reports each month, for the next three months, at my expense.
- Bottom line was – there was no key logger or problems with the computer and no clients information was stolen. All this scammer wanted was my $129.00 – but it could have been much worse.
Romance scam. This is a type of scam where the scammer pretends to be someone they are not, usually someone of the opposite sex. They may build a relationship with you online or over the phone, and then ask for money or gifts.
- Again, I’ve never been a victim of this … but not for some women (I think) trying. I’m constantly getting friend request on Facebook from good looking young women (or at least that I what I see in the pictures). When I go to their profile to check them out they either have no friends or just a bunch of “old men” friends. I guess the young men are smarter.
- I also get text messages (supposedly in error) from young women looking to strike up a conversation. I just delete them. But it sure get’s tiring.
Sweepstakes scam. This is a type of scam where you are told that you have won a prize, but you need to pay a fee to claim it.
- Another take on this is that Prince of Ethiopia who died and left you a fortune … but you first must give his executor banking numbers so that they can transfer that fortune into your account.
Phishing scam. This is a type of scam where you receive an email or text message that looks like it is from a legitimate company. The email or text message may ask you to click on a link or open an attachment, which will install malware on your computer.
- Many of us get these. Always look at the address before clicking on the link. If it comes from Amazon, for example, make sure Amazon is in the link address and make sure the address ends (depending on where it comes from) with .com, .net, .gov, or .edu. Those are the four major endings in American internet addresses. Any other ending would probably be a scam or from a foreign country (which is where many of the scams come from). Because many of the scams do come from foreign countries the government tells us that it is hard to catch and prosecute the scammers.
Imposter scam. This is a type of scam where the scammer pretends to be someone they are not, such as a government official or a law enforcement officer. They may call you or send you an email demanding money or personal information.
- A good example here is the infamous IRS agent calling you and saying that you owe money and that if you don’t go by a “gift card” and pay it now they will send the sheriff to arrest you.
Carding scam. This is a type of scam where the scammer steals your credit card information and uses it to make fraudulent purchases.
- This one has affected many people, including me. It is not only credit card information on the computer but simply using the card to pay for something but you unfortunately give the card to a disgruntled employee.
- If you watch your statements each month though this one is not too bad. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), you are liable for up to $50 for unauthorized charges made to your credit card if you report the fraud within 60 days of discovering it. If you report the fraud after 60 days, you may be liable for up to $500, but you may be able to dispute the charges and have them removed from your credit report.
- If you are a victim of credit card fraud, you should immediately contact your credit card issuer to report the fraud. You should also file a police report and contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
Identity theft scam. This is a type of scam where the scammer steals your personal information, such as your name, address, and Social Security number. They may use this information to open new accounts in your name, apply for loans, or file taxes.
- There are reports of people actually doing this then borrowing money on your home and your not realizing it till they default on the loan and the bank contacts you demanding payment or foreclosure proceedings.
- No, you are not held liable if someone steals your identity and borrows money on your home. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are not responsible for fraudulent debts that are incurred by someone who steals your identity. However, you do have a responsibility to report the fraud to the credit bureaus and to the creditor as soon as you discover it. If you do not report the fraud, you may be held liable for the debt.
- Here’s the conundrum … how do you know someone has borrowed money on your home until after the fact and the bank is coming to you for payment? You’re told to monitor your credit report at least annually. Have you ever tried that and then tried to contact the credit reporting agency to question an entry … especially after Covid-19? No one seems to want to answer the phones anymore … and when they do their in a foreign country.
Medical insurance scam. This is a type of scam where the scammer calls you pretending to be from your health insurance company. They may ask for your personal information or your credit card number.
- I’ve had numerous of these calls and really get sick of them. They are all Robo Calls which I will get to later in this article.
Government grant scam. This is a type of scam where you are told that you are eligible for a government grant, but you need to pay a fee to claim it.
- We are all looking for something for nothing … don’t fall victim to this.
Recent stories shared with me:
I met a lady on Facebook when responding to my cousin’s post about a potential scam from the Alabama Tax Collection people. I got interested in it and asked if she’d share it with me for this article. Her name is Diane. Here’s her story:
So back in January 2023 I needed help with my Apple computer.
At the time I did not have an Apple phone. I googled Apple support, found the number and called. A man with an accent answered and proceeded to tell me that my iCloud had been hacked in 4 states and they needed to take care of it so they could fix my computer.
Thinking this was Apple I followed his instructions as he had me download something on my phone. He had me go into my Wells Fargo account and he had me download the Elle app which I had never heard of.
Note: I’ve never heard of Elle either but I have heard of Zelle which is a banking app that is already available on most banking websites to send and receive money.
He started having me create “dummy withdrawals” through Cash App and Elle. When I questioned it he said not to worry he could put it all back and he did put some of it back. Anyway after two hours I was very tired and told him I couldn’t do anymore. He was angry but quickly regained his composure and made an appointment for me the next day. He provided me with his cell phone number.
Also during this transaction he must not have realized I was not on mute and he carried on a full conversation with someone in another country. Anyway I woke up early the next day and felt like the Lord said to get a second opinion (I’m a nurse). So I got up looked again this time on their website and found the legitimate phone number. I asked the person who answered if this would be their protocol (explaining what happened) and he said absolutely not , that I had been scammed. I hung up and called the bank. The scammer tried to get into our credit union account but by the Grace of God my app wouldn’t load in my phone. It could have been so much worse and I am thankful my bank eventually credited all of the charges but it was such a violation. I ended up getting a new phone and am extremely cautious now about anything electronic. Thank you for writing this article. Feel free to reach out should you need any further information.
The important thing to remember here is that she got the phone number when she went to Google to get information on assistance. Now, I’m not a lawyer – but I think that Google should be held liable for allowing false advertising on their website. I mean, after all, they do have the ability to control what shows up when you search something … control the bogus websites and numbers or pay the consequences … don’t force the public to pay those consequences.
The next story is my brothers, Ed Nix’s story:
He was looking at Facebook Marketplace and found a nice 2006 Honda Goldwing Trike for sale. The asking price was about $1200. Since I’d sold my 2008 Honda Goldwing Trike on Facebook Market Place for $18,000 he called to see what I thought. I told him the people may have meant $12,000 instead of $1.200 and that he should message them for verification. He did, and they told him the price was $1,200 and took his email address to tell him what he needed to do.
Once they got his email address they sent him this very professional looking email.
The first thing we noticed was that even though he found the Trike advertised on Facebook Marketplace, the email appeared that it came from Ebay. Or did it? Look at the email sender address: From: eBay™ <firstname.lastname@example.org> … anyone could put eBay in front of their email address.
This was the first clue that it really was not from Ebay. However I told him to have a conversation with the seller by clicking on the Live Chat button. When he did this is what he got:
Again, it looks like a legitimate Ebay Chat Box … but look at the internet address: mylivechat.com. There is nothing about ebay there.
Bottom line is this: After the chat they really wanted him to go to a local store and purchase five $200 Ebay Gift Cards (I guess $200 in their maximum dollar figure). Then he was to call them and read them the numbers off the cards and once they had the money in the bank they would ship him the motorcycle with $0.00 shipping cost for a 1,500 pound vehicle that he could try for 7 days and send back to them if he did not like it (shipping cost free) and get all his money back. Yea Right!
I wonder how many people actually fell for this scam. Fortunately, my brother didn’t just come down from the mountain yesterday. He’s been around the block a time or two and even though he has fallen for some sophisticated investment scams in the past (as many of us have) he didn’t fall for this simple one.
A more recent story involving me and an old friend:
As recent as this week end I got a note on Facebook Messenger from an old friend that said this:
When I tried to open it this is what I got:
Now what would have happened, do you think, if I’d completed this form? I’m not a computer whiz but I have a son-in-law that has a PhD in computer science and a son that has a degree in computer and network engineering. They both tell me that someone would likely be waiting for me to complete the form to Hack me and of course with the phone number send more ROBO calls my way.
Of course I wanted to know if I had a friend that died in an accident. It’s an emotional thing. So I contacted my friend and this is what she said …
I’m not changing my password again for the 100th time so this is what I sent back to her:
Where are the most scams today?
Without a doubt the internet (mainly social media) and the phone is where the scams come from today. This brings me to the subject of my real pet peeve … ROBOCALLS!
It does not matter how many times you put your phone number on the National Government DO NOT CALL LIST, you are not going to stop these runaway robocalls.
In 2022, Americans received an estimated 50.3 billion robocalls, according to YouMail, a company that provides a robocall blocking app and call protection service for mobile phones. That is about 137,808,219 robo calls per day that Americans are being hit with. This is a slight decrease from the peak year of 2019, when Americans received an estimated 58 billion robocalls.
Robocalls are made by automated systems that dial phone numbers without human intervention. They are often used for telemarketing, debt collection, or other scams. Robocalls can be very disruptive and annoying, and they can also be a security risk. If you receive a robocall, you should never answer it or provide any personal information.
There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from robocalls, including:
Sign up for a robocall blocking service. There are a number of companies that offer robocall blocking services. These services can help to reduce the number of robocalls you receive.
Use a call screening service. Call screening services allow you to screen calls before you answer them. This can help you to identify robocalls and avoid answering them.
Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. If you don’t recognize the number calling you, don’t answer it. Robocallers often use spoofed numbers, which means that the number that appears on your caller ID may not be the actual number that is calling you. I once got a call from my mother’s number and the call was about extending my automobile warranty on my Lexus (and I don’t and never owned a Lexus). Normally I’d block the number … but how can you block your mom’s number and feel good about it???
Be careful about what information you share over the phone. Never give out your personal information, such as your Social Security number or credit card number, to someone you don’t know over the phone.
Report robocalls to the FTC. You can report robocalls to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The FTC uses the information you provide to investigate and prosecute robocallers.
- More on the FTC and the Federal Government later in this article.
I wonder why the phone companies allow Robocalls to happen?
Do they make money on them? Yes, phone companies can make money on robocalls. When a robocall is made, the phone company that the call is routed through is typically paid a fee. This fee is typically very small, about 1 to 2 cents per call … but it can add up over time. In addition, phone companies may also sell the data that is collected from robocalls, such as the phone numbers that are called and the times that the calls are made. This data can be used to target people with more robocalls or other marketing messages. This is so the phone companies can make even more money! Folks, it’s really all about the damned money!
There are a number of things that phone companies can do to reduce the number of robocalls that are made. For example, they can work with law enforcement to identify and prosecute robocallers. They can also implement new technologies to block robocalls. However, it is important to note that robocallers are constantly finding new ways to evade these measures. And the question remains – Why should the phone companies even try if they if they are making money on the calls?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that phone companies made an estimated $10 billion in revenue from robocalls in 2020. This is a significant amount of money, and it is one of the reasons why robocalls are so difficult to stop. I mean heck, what CEO in his right mind would stop something that was making his company so much money – unless there was something else that could destroy that income and make it a cost rather than a gain.
Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will tell you … You can report robocalls to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The FTC uses the information you provide to investigate and prosecute robocallers. So, why try to prosecute a robocaller that is in India or Manilla or China when all you need to do is prosecute the phone company allowing them to happen?
The same people will tell you, when it comes to losses that, Americans lost an estimated $59.1 billion to fraud in 2020. Of that, $29.2 billion was lost to imposter scams, $10.3 billion was lost to investment scams, and $9.2 billion was lost to romance scams. The average loss per victim was $1,984. That’s all on the internet. When it comes to phone scams the numbers are below.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans lost an estimated $29.8 billion to phone scams in 2021. This is a significant increase from the previous year, when Americans lost an estimated $19.7 billion to phone scams. The FTC attributes the increase to a number of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to more people working from home and using their phones more, and the increasing sophistication of robocallers. The FTC also estimates that only about 1 in 4 phone scam victims report the crime to law enforcement. This means that the actual amount of money lost to phone scams is likely much higher than the reported figures.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), only about 5% of internet scam victims report their losses to the FTC. This means that the actual amount of money lost to internet scams is likely much higher than the reported figures. When we add the two numbers together $59.1 Billion on Fraud and $29.8 billion in phone scams that’s a total of $88.9 billion – not to count all the money the phone companies and social media companies are making off these scams.
Why is it that so few people are reporting anything to the FTC about scams they encounter?
There are a number of reasons why people may not report internet scams to the FTC. Some people may be embarrassed to admit that they have been scammed. Others may not know how to report a scam. Still others may not think that the FTC will be able to help them.
The FTC is urging people to report internet scams, even if they are small. The more information the FTC has, the better able it is to investigate and prosecute scammers.
In 2021, the FTC received over 5.8 million robocall complaints. This is a significant increase from the previous year, when the FTC received over 2.8 million robocall complaints.
The FTC is urging people to report robocalls, even if they are small. The more information the FTC has, the better able it is to investigate and prosecute robocallers.
Now let’s see … 58 billion robocalls with only 5.8 million being reported … that’s about 0.01% of all Robo Calls being reported. Why is that? And also, when you think about it … that is a much smaller number than the 1 in 4 mentioned above or the 5% that was also mentioned above. Who’s lying to who if it is all coming from the FTC?
I simple don’t trust the FTC or any government agency to do what is in the people’s best interest. And to think, there was a time I was willing to lay down my life for this government.
People are not reporting Robocalls and Scams because they don’t believe the government wants to do anything about them. They will always tell us the US Government is committed to protecting consumers from scammers. By investigating and prosecuting scammers, the government is helping to make the internet a safer place for everyone.
They simply can’t stop all the scams by going after the scammer. They have to stop them at the source they use for scamming the public.
Social Media (Facebook, Google, Twitter and all the others) need to be held liable with monetary costs for allowing scammers to use their services to scam their customers and users of their platform. If they are charged enough for these useless scams … watch how fast these scams would come to an end. I mean the fact is that if Facebook and other social media sites can remove your posts that may be offensive or may not be 100% truthful – why can’t they remove those that are trying to scam you on their sites … those who pay them an advertising fee.
Phone companies need to be charged for every Robocall that they allow to go through. If they were charged just $1.00 for every call that got through their system (50.3 billion in 2022) that would far exceed the $10 billion in revenue they generated by at least 5 times. Watch how fast Robocalls would come to an end.
Yes it is time for our legislative body in the U. S. Government to do something about the scamming of American Citizens, other than trying to chase down scammers in foreign countries that we cannot control. It’s time for it to stop. Go after what we can control … the source the scammers use to steal from us.
If you agree, please copy the link to this article (or print the article) and send it to your two State Senators and you Congressional Representative, as well as CEO’s to phone companies and social media companies. I did!