Knowledge is power! Not only are new scams being designed all the time, but many are recycled because unfortunately, people still fall victim to them. One of the best ways to not be fooled is to know what's out there. Here are some of the more popular ones, shared by consumers all over the U.S. .
The Grandparent Scam
The grandparent scam involves a scammer exploiting the love and generosity of a grandparent by posing as their grandchild in trouble and in need of money.
Scammers will place a call to an older adult and when they answer, the scammer will say something along the lines of: "Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?" When the grandparent says the name of the grandchild, the scammer can establish the fake identity of the grandchild.
Once the connection is made, the scammer posing as the grandchild, will ask for money convincing the grandparent that they are assisting them in paying for transportation home from a foreign country, medical treatment, or even bail. The grandparent will come to the aid of the grandchild sending the requested money via Western Union or MoneyGram, which often does not require identification for the recipient to collect funds. The scammer, acting as the grandchild, will often plead with the grandparent not to contact their parents or other loved ones. They may claim the need is too urgent, or beg the grandparent "please don't tell my parents, they would kill me."
Today, telemarketing scam phone calls are becoming more prevalent. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable as they are often lonely looking for someone to talk to. Additionally, they tend to be more familiar with shopping over the phone making them unaware of the risks involved with providing personal information to the telemarketer.
These scams are very hard to trace with no face-to-face interaction and no paper trail. Also, once a scammer is successful in obtaining the victims information, their name may be shared with similar schemers looking for easy targets. Unfortunately, this can result in a victim being defrauded multiple times.
Examples of telemarketing fraud include:
- The Pigeon Drop
A pigeon drop scam is a form of fraud often targeting senior citizens as they are believed to be the most vulnerable and trusting. The scammer explains how they just found a large sum of money and are willing to split it if the person will make a "good faith" payment to them by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account prior to the funds being shared. Often, a second scammer is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.
- The Microsoft Scheme
The Microsoft scheme involves an individual receiving a phone call from someone purporting to be from Microsoft calling to assist in increasing the speed of their computer. The fraudster convinces the individual to let them remote into their computer to update/patch/fix something to increase the speed/functionality of the computer. While in control of the computer, the fraudster asks the customer to log into online banking to get their account information to reimburse them for the cost of the lifetime tech support they originally purchased. The fraudster, who still has remote access to the computer, then transfers money from the customer's savings account to their checking account. The fraudster tells the individual that they made a mistake and reimbursed them too much money and in turn, asks the person to send the difference back via wire, Western Union/MoneyGram, or gift cards. In the end, the person sends back the difference, doesn't realize the fraudster moved their money between accounts and never received the reimbursement in the first place.
- Charity scams
Scammers posing as fake charities prey on people's generosity and compassion for others. Much like genuine charities, scammers solicit donations via telemarketing. These scams often include fundraising for veterans or aid following a natural disaster. Charity scams are especially active during the holiday season, taking advantage of the giving spirit.
Catfishing occurs when a con artist creates fake social networking presence, or fake identity on a social network account targeting lonely individuals. Many senior citizens utilize online dating and social media to make romantic connections and often fall victim to catfishing. After forming a trusting relationship through romantic calls and messages, the con artist asks the victim to send money to assist them with an emergency. In most cases, the con artist will take the funds and never meet the individual in person and is not located in the state or country originally disclosed.
Wire transfer fraud
Please read the following information regarding recent wire fraud schemes, so that you do not become a cybercriminal's next victim.
- Masquerading – Cybercriminals take over an email account, usually through a network attack, or they create an email account that appears very similar to the legitimate email account. Fraudulent emails are sent to employees to schedule wire and ACH transfers,
- Vendor email compromise – Cybercriminals take over a vendor's email account Fraudulent emails are sent to organizations that conduct business with the vendor, which provide new wiring instructions related to the payment of invoices, Victim businesses often trade internationally, and the vendors are usually located in China.
If you received a wire request from a company/vendor or a change in wiring instructions from a vendor via email, please do the following before you take action:
Contact the requestor, either in person or via telephone, to verify the authenticity of the wire request or change in wiring instructions. DO NOT contact via email, as this mode of communication could be compromised and you may be emailing the cybercriminal. In the case of contacting overseas vendors, you may contact using a secondary email address, or call from a number that you have on file for them. DO NOT call using a phone number listed on the fraudulent email.
If you have questions or concerns please contact Customer Service at 888-932-2256.
We are aware of an email scam in which an email claims to be from Webster Bank and carries the subject line 'Legal Business Proposal'. If you receive a similar email, please delete it without opening or downloading any attachments. The email is not from Webster Bank and may contain malicious software in its attached documents.
Debit card phishing attempt
Some Webster customers have received phone calls from a recorded message stating that their debit cards have been cancelled. They are being instructed to press #1 to reactivate their cards. Their caller ID displays "24." Please be advised that this is a phishing attempt. We will never call you to activate your card. If you need assistance, please call us at 800.995.9995, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We'd be happy to help you.
Scammers trick-or-treating for your money
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Webster's federal regulator, is a wonderful resource for the various schemes scammers are using to take victims' money, ways for those targeted to recognize the tricks, and leave the scammers "holding the bag."
Scammers using Obamacare to steal money and identities
The National Consumers League is warning people about fraudsters taking advantage of confusion over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" to run scams and attempt to steal personal and financial information. Such scams include: deceptively marketed fake health insurances policies and created fake Web sites that claimed to sell Obamacare, targeting seniors to gain their personal information; con artists posing as government employees conned consumers into divulging their bank account numbers in order to sign up for fake health care plans; and fraudulent health insurance plans. For more information, click here. The Consumer Federation of America has also provided tips to help Americans identify and avoid such scams by explaining that: people who already have insurance do not need to sign up, get a new card or make any other changes; there is no application fee or charge for assistance to enroll in an insurance plan through the new health care marketplaces; and there is no rush for eligible consumers to act. The tips also tell consumers how to get information from reliable sources.
Malicious banking spam campaigns reported
We have been made aware that a group of hackers is sending out millions of bogus messages made to look like services messages from many of the top US banks. This attempt to steal banking credentials and credit card numbers prompts the recipient to download an attachment and register with an encrypted messaging system. Clicking this link installs a Trojan. This email was not sent by Webster, and customers should not follow the instructions included in the email. As a reminder, Webster Bank will never ask for your PIN or account information in any email or via the internet. Please see the fraudulent email information below.
Subject: You have received a new encrypted message or a secure message from [XYZ] Bank
Message: The bank is concerned about your privacy and has come up with a system so their customers can securely exchange emails containing personal information.