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Technology & Security, Fraud

3 Popular Scams to Look Out for in 2021

In addition to the well-known ways thieves steal your identity or breach your financial security, there are a few popular scams in 2021 that deserve your attention. Online criminals seemingly find endless new ways to defraud people. As soon as people catch on, they’re on to another even more devious attack on your personal information. Staying vigilant of these scams in 2021 will be important to ensuring your security and peace of mind.

Phishing, Smishing, and Vishing are Still Among Most Prevalent Scams

Pandemic, census, and tax-related phishing, smishing, and vishing scams have run wild in 2021. Consumers across the country have been bombarded by fraudulent emails, phone calls, and texts claiming the need to "confirm" sensitive account information or "survey" people about their census form. Other fraudulent communications promise access to a coronavirus vaccine if people will just supply sensitive personal details.

Of course, this tactic is nothing new, but latching onto such timely topics means these savvy scammers are tricking more people into an identity security issue. To avoid such scams in 2021 and beyond, remember that legitimate businesses will never contact you to open attachments, click on links, or provide sensitive account or personal information.

New Accounts Pose Big Risks

According to risk-management experts, nearly half of all scams in 2021 will involve accounts that are less than a day old. Criminals can search the dark web to purchase your personal information. They use it to pass identity authentication measures and create a new account with your info. Examples include opening a credit card or loan in your name, or filing for unemployment using your social security information and then collecting the payment before they get to you.

Staying vigilant with your information will be key to avoiding scams in 2021. Don’t forget to shred documents that contain your personal info. In addition, when you’re entering sensitive information online, make sure the website is authentic and secure. Finally, double check your privacy settings on social media and make sure you limit who can view your profile. Thieves can often learn a lot about you just from what’s publicly available online and use that information in their scams.

Student Loan Forgiveness Scams in 2021

Student loan forgiveness scams in 2021 seem to be flourishing with the continued pandemic. Talk of permanently eliminating up to $50,000 in student loan debt has permeated headlines as new legislation makes its way through Congress. While thieves have long gone after unsuspecting debtors, the news cycle is giving longtime student loan scammers a fresh way to defraud people.

One of the two most common student loan forgiveness scams in 2021 involves convincing people to "pay" a fraudulent company for loan deferment services that are free through the government. Another typical scam encourages people to pay a fee to have their loans "forgiven" only to have their money stolen and still be stuck with their loans.

The best way to protect yourself is to initiate conversations about your loans directly with your lender. You should also pay attention to the news as new legislation passes. Forgiveness could still be on the horizon, but anyone offering it to you now is very likely bogus.

Avoiding Scams in 2021 and Beyond

Here are wise steps to take to avoid scams in 2021 and beyond:

  • Check your credit regularly. Apps like Credit Karma make it free and easy to do quick checks on a weekly basis. Any credit applications will show up and you’ll know whether it’s you or a fraudster so you can take action quickly.
  • Change up your passwords. It’s so tempting and easy to use a handful of memorable passwords for your online accounts, but doing so opens you up to the threat of fraud.
  • Double-check website addresses, especially if you’re clicking on one from an email. Make sure you can verify the sender. If the URL looks at all off, close it out immediately.
  • Rather than entering your credit card information online, take advantage of secure pay sites like Click to Pay from Mastercard®.

A bit of vigilance goes a long way in protecting yourself from scams in 2021. As a reminder, your Credit Union adheres to stringent security measures to protect your account information. If you have specific questions, or you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, please contact us to learn about your options.

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