What were the worst scams of 2013? In 2013, Scambook observed a wide variety of old and new scams targeting consumers. Common threats included identity theft, work from home scams, fake charities and gas station ATM skimmers. But which scams were the most devious? Which scams will continue to hit consumers in 2014?
As the year draws to a close, let’s recap the worst scams of 2013. Hopefully, we won’t be seeing any of these scams again in the New Year — but even they fall off the map, the lessons learned by studying these fraud schemes can help protect you and your loved one from becoming a scam victim in the future.
Here are the Top 4 Worst Scams of 2013:
1. Obamacare Scams
Scammers love to prey on public confusion. The Affordable Care Act is the perfect opportunity for scammers to pull a fast one on unsuspecting consumers. As we move into 2014, keep an eye out for fake “Obamacare cards” or insurance cards — you don’t need to buy any cards to purchase affordable health insurance.
Keep an eye out for fraudsters who reach out to you in an attempt to “update” your information. This also goes for fake “healthcare navigators” who claim to help you purchase healthcare. Both are attempt to steal your information.
Finally, be wary of individuals who claim to be government officials or anyone who demands you pay “mandatory” fees to purchase health insurance.
2. Charity Scams
It’s an unfortunate reality, but there are fake charities out there that prey on our good will. Even if it is a legitimate organization, some charities may also only give a small percentage of donations to the actual cause.
Then there are so-called charities that are actually scams intended to deceive our good will. Here are a few ways to avoid charity scams:
- Don’t respond to unsolicited emails from charitable organizations.
- Be skeptical when dealing with individuals who claim to represent an organization.
- Make direct donations rather than using a third-party.
- Research the charity to ensure its legitimacy.
- Keep all donation records in a safe place for future reference.
3. Job Scams
The internet is a great place to find a job. Unfortunately, scammers know this and are preying on the unemployed with fake online job listings.
One scam that made the rounds in 2013 is called the “reshipping job.” Potential “reshipping” employees are offered salary, benefits, and vacation time — just for going to the post office to reship packages that they receive. Most of the time, these packages contain counterfeit or stolen goods.
The job is typically disguised as “merchandising manager” or “package processing assistant”. If you’re searching for a new job via the internet, here’s how to spot a “reshipping job” scam:
- Packages arrive will be addressed to someone else’s name at your address.
- Packages arrive at your door marked “Return to Sender” when you didn’t send them.
- You’re paid via money order, asked to deduct your earnings, and wire the rest back to your employer.
4. Gas Pump Credit Card Skimmers
As if gas stations weren’t expensive enough, scammers have begun to plant ATM and credit card skimmers on gas pumps.
What are skimmers? Basically, it’s a small device that’s implanted into terminals where ATM or credit cards are swiped. The skimmer steals the information on the ATM card or credit card and fraudsters can use this information to access your bank account.
Case in point: Two Oklahoma men were caught using skimming technology to steal ATM card information from consumers using the gas pump at various gas stations. The skimmers remained in place for two months before the thieves were caught.
To avoid skimmers, make sure to physically inspect the machine before you swipe your card. Also, keep an eye on your bank accounts for fraudulent activity on a regular basis.
What Do You Think?
Have you encountered any of the popular scams for 2013? How did you avoid them? Let us know in the comments section!