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New Fraud and Scams to Watch Out For in 2022


It’s a new year, with new scams and criminals trying to steal your identity and money. 2022 is full of hope and possibilities, and nothing could slow you down like having your identity stolen.

Keep yourself safe this year by keeping an eye out for new frauds and scams from the ever clever criminals of the world.

New Job Scams

man in dark hoodie holding phone and looking at computer screensWith the great resignation and the flipped job market right now, people are hunting for both a job and new employees. With this change in dynamic, you can bet fraudsters and scammers are actively looking for a way to profit.

For the job seekers out there, scammers are waiting for an opportunity to steal your identity. A common requirement for becoming employed is providing personal information, including a copy of your social security number. What does a scammer need in order to steal your identity and start opening credit cards in your name? Much of the same info needed to get a job.

Before applying for a new job, be sure to research the company thoroughly. Not only will this help you get the job, it can help weed out false companies made by scammers. Check out their Glassdoor and LinkedIn profiles, along with other online presences. Check for a physical address and office space, or even reach out to somebody employee at the company to verify it’s authenticity.

As for people looking to hire, scammers might be targeting you too, just a little bit differently. They know some businesses are desperate, and during email conversations pretending to be interested in the job, they might slip in a malware file to try and trick you into downloading it. If the malware infects your software, you might be at risk of having your identity or company credit card stolen. 

Crowdfunding Scams

blonde woman sad looking at laptopWith a new year, we’ll also see a new wave of people in dire need asking for money to help their situation. Especially with health issues, unfortunate circumstances, or even the occasional businesses on the verge of closing, this year we'll only see more people creating GoFundMe's and similar requests.

But, just as previous years, far too many of these crowdfunding requests end up being scams. People looking for free money invent a fictional sad tale or circumstance to prey on the soft hearted in our communities. Or, some sort of injustice or horrible situation goes viral online, and somebody creates a GoFundMe, pretending to be the victim or someone connected to the victim. The account goes viral and the wrong people pocket the money.

Before donating to a crowdfunded cause, be sure to do a few minutes of research. If you are donating to someone you don’t know, be extra cautious. Do a quick Google search to make sure it’s authentic, double check the name on the crowdfund account, or wait a day or two to see if any other news comes out about the crowdfund cause. Sometimes, these scam accounts get caught and shutdown before you lose your money.

Pet Adoption Scams

black and white puppyWhether you're looking for a friend for your Christmas puppy or just interested in getting a new pet, you’ll have plenty of options in 2022. Between online sites, pet stores, and people giving away dogs in parking lots, animal adoptions are everywhere.

But, with those adorable faces and wet noses comes the potential for scams, especially online. There are some who are trying to steal your money or identity in fake pet adoptions.

If you are looking online for a new pet, you’re likely to get drawn in with adorable pet pictures and fun facts about how cute they are, but keep your guard up. This scam works by the fraudster getting you invested in the animal and asking to buy or adopt. Then scammer hits you with requesting a down payment or to pay up front. They ask for a check or Venmo payment before promising to meet up to give you the pet. But once the payment is sent, they disappear.

Another scam method is much the same, but insists on filling out paperwork for the pet adoption. For someone unfamiliar with pet adoptions, they might assume this is a standard practice, and give away personal information, including your social security number.

To avoid pet adoption scams, don’t get to invested in a single pet until you meet in person. Don’t send any type of payment until the pet is in your hands. Don’t give a down payment or send it early. When looking at potential pets online and you have pictures, do a Google image search of the pictures of the dog to see if they are stock photos or stolen from someone else. Finally, be cautious of filling out adoption paperwork. Shelters and pet stores often have adoption paperwork, along with some reputable breeding companies, but if it’s just some guy selling dogs in a parking lot, it’s not needed. 

Fraudulent Calls About Fraud

bald man in turtleneck on the phone and looking at laptopIt might feel a bit convoluted, but scammers are even using your financial institution’s fraud prevention measures to try and steal your information. You might receive a text, phone call, or email from what you believe is your financial institution’s fraud department, warning you of potential fraud on your account, when in reality, it’s a scammer looking for information.

A great first step in combating this issue is being familiar with your financial institution’s fraud communication methods and practices. For example, Pioneer will never ask for your social security number or account numbers if we call you. Many financial institutions have similar policies in place, so if you get a call asking for that information, hang up and call your institution directly.

Another thing to consider is doing your own research. If you get a call about a potential fraud charge, ask for them to wait a second and then research your account. Both credit cards and debit cards let you see pending and accepted transactions, so if you’re being contacted about a stolen card, check for any charges you didn’t make. If there is no fraud on the account you can see, call your financial institution directly to double check.

Protecting Yourself

You never know when fraud is going to come calling or when it will affect you. Criminals can even steal your identity or credit card even if you’ve done everything right. It just takes one store’s data being leaked or one website getting hacked for your personal information to go public.

You should make sure to take active steps to protect yourself. One way of doing that is using the website Have I Been Pwned. By entering your website or phone number, you can see if that information has been part of the many data leaks over the years. If it has, not only is your email and phone number public, but also any information stored on that website too, including credit cards or private information. 

You should also consider signing up for a identity theft protection or recovery service in case you are targeted. These services can help monitor and fix if a scammer goes after your identity. Pioneer members with a checking account get free access to an Identity Theft Recovery service that protects themselves and their immediate family members. If you believe your identity has been stolen, you contact Pioneer, who puts you in touch with a identity recovery specialist who helps you reclaim your identity and fix any damage the criminal caused.

Learn more about Pioneer's Identity Theft Recovery Service

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