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Americans must be ever vigilent when it comes to keeping their personal and financial information safe with thieves and hackers finding new ways to attack every year. For the start of 2019, there are four scams in particular to keep an eye out for.
Despite better security, debit card chips, and constant reminders, it’s important to be ever vigilant when it comes to keeping our personal and financial data safe. It seems like every month there’s a new scam or hack we need to protect ourselves from.
With that in mind, what scams should you be keeping an eye out for at the start of 2019?
Debit card skimming is one of the most concerning threats to our financial security, because it’s really hard to spot.
Hackers place a nearly undetectable cover over card slots so that when you use your debit card, it scans your information. Places like gas stations and outdoor ATM’s are the highest risk spots.
To keep yourself safe, first, make sure to always cover your hand when punching in your pin at any gas pump or ATM. Second, check the machine. If the spot over the card slot seems loose, let someone know. Also, if you can, pay or take money out inside.
Shimming, is similar to skimming, but nearer. Instead of covers over the card slots, thieves insert a paper-thin device into the card/chip reader. When you use your card, the “shim” reads your card and stores the information.
The best way to identify if a “shim” is being used, is if your card feels tight or meets with some resistance.
To avoid shims, use a “tap and go” option for your card, like Google or Apple Pay, when available. Also, similar to skimming, go inside to pay or use ATMs instead of using outdoor options, as they are more likely to be hacked.
Tax Refund Scam
It’s tax season, which means thieves are trying to steal your refund. In this case, thieves are stealing your individual taxpayer ID number or Social Security number and filing taxes pretending to be you, then stealing the refund.
Make sure you’re not giving out personal information via email, phone, or text and limiting the amount you use on the internet as a whole. Also, be wary of how you file. Stick with trustworthy online filing sites like TurboTax or with a local accountant in your town that you trust.
The Netflix Scam
If you, like hundreds of thousands of other Americans, watch Netflix, you could be at risk.
This is essentially a phishing scam; thieves are impersonating representatives from the streaming site, sending out emails that ask for your personal information. The email claims the user’s account is on hold because Netflix is “having some trouble with your current billing information.”
Don’t click the link. Instead, if you’re actually concerned, get contact information from Netflix’s website directly and find out if there really is a problem with your account.
In the case of this or any other phishing email, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org (an address used by the FTC) and Netflix email@example.com.
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