Before you make your plans for the upcoming year of 2021, stop and consider how to stay safe from scams and avoid being tricked by an online con artist, fraudster, or romance scammer. Unfortunately, if you’re worried about COVID-19 related scams, fake videos, catfish scams, military scams, phishing scams, and more … you are not alone. Learn the catfish cons, hacks, tricks, and scams that you should watch out for and stay prepared. We now present you with the top scams to avoid in 2021!
Top Scams to Watch Out for in 2021!
Another year … another round of top scams!
1. COVID-19 Testing Scams
There may now be a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19), but that does not mean that scams or scammers are going away. If you receive a COVID-19 related text message, email, or phone call about being exposed and needing a test, it may be a scam. While it is possible that you may be exposed to the virus, government workers will not call, text, email, or link you to sketchy websites that ask you for your personal or bank information.
What to Do: Go to the website for your local health office and verify the most current COVID-19 related information. Use Social Catfish to search the name, username, phone number, or email address found in any suspicious messages or calls about COVID-19.
2. EDD Benefit Scams
Are you still trying to get back to the financial goals that you had for yourself … before 2020? If you’re wanting additional COVID-19 EDD benefits, beware of random texts, calls, or emails which claim that you may receive additional benefits by going to a specific link. Fact-check anything that you receive and do not reply to messages or links that sound too good to be true. Coronavirus EDD will contact you by email, not by text message or social media.
What to Do: Apply for benefits through your state’s EDD process. You will receive additional benefits based on your response to the questions answered on your application, not through a text form. Those who are approved to receive additional benefits will not be required to visit outside links or answer questions about their financial records by text or phone.
3. Stimulus Check Scams
Ready for another stimulus check? While the second stimulus check has been approved, scammers will continue to try and con the public with this method … as they know that many people need or want stimulus money. “Real” stimulus checks will be direct deposited or sent to you by the Department of Treasury, not outside sources or through new banks that you’ve never heard of before.
How it works: Scammers have a variety of goals… some want to trick you into sending them gift cards, while others want to download malware on your computer and steal your most private information. COVID-19 stimulus scams will often direct you to click on a link to a (fake) website that will steal your credit card information or Social Security number (to later hack your account).
Beware of any COVID-19 related stimulus links found in emails or texts, as they are probably from scammers. To check if a link is correct and accurate, review who is messaging you. The government will never contact you by phone or email in an attempt to collect your personal financial or banking information. If you’re going to a .gov web address, type out the URL manually, rather than clicking on a hyperlink which may take you to a phishing site.
4. Fake COVID-19 Loan Checks
Do you own a business and received or are interested in a PPP loan? Beware of anyone offering you a PPP loan and trying to solicit information that could be stolen as part of an identity theft scam.
How it Works: Keep safe by going to the correct source to apply for PPP loans. Even when using a search engine for government matters, only use .gov websites and watch out for sponsored 3rd party ads.
5. Dating Site Bots
What’s an easy way to scam someone? Use a bot! Bots replies on dating sites may seem too good to be true, as they always answer immediately, no matter when you text. Occasionally, a bot’s answers won’t make sense with the conversation you’re having or will try to link you to outside websites to steal your information or get you to subscribe to other paid sites.
What to Do: If you suspect that you’re talking to a bot, text a few random words to the person and, if their immediate reply seems as if nothing is wrong, that may let you know that you’re dealing with a bot!
6. Catfishing and Romance Scams
Many people feel lonely during their time at home during 2020 and beyond. Romance scammers catfish victims by pretending to be someone they are not. They are usually after money from their victims and may live overseas or in Nigeria.
What to Do: Beware of anyone you’re online dating but haven’t met in person. Stop talking to online contacts who have asked you for money and search out any information they have given to you using Social Catfish.
7. Military Scams
Knowing that the public has largely caught on to the concept of oil rig scams (although they are still used), military scams are continually gaining steam. A military scam is perfect for those con artists and catfish who want to have a built-in excuse to ask for money (although those familiar with the military know that need is not valid) and a reason for being out of town.
What to Do: Romance scammers and catfish steal images from the web, including influencer’s accounts on Instagram and more. For scammers, it feels like a win! They get to portray themselves as national heroes, all while tricking innocent victims out of their hard-earned money and breaking hearts. Use a reverse image search and see if your online love interest has stolen photos from the web in order to scam you.
8. Fake Video
Imagine asking for proof that your scammer is real, and they deliver it through a video! Only problem? Many videos are now faked. If you’re ready to part with your heart and cash after someone sends you a video, beware!
How it Works: Scammers steal fake videos from popular or attractive online users and influencers and then dub out the voice with their own! The voice in the video will match the person that you talk to on the phone. Also, scammers can fake video chats using video chats, so look out for if their lips don’t match their voice. Remember, if someone’s video chat seems spotty or they won’t meet in person … OR, if they ask for money, you are probably dealing with a scammer!
9. Phishing Scams
All a scammer needs is an exciting way to get you interested in their fake website and links. This might be a special offer, loan, or alert about a package or account breach that they feel works as a good CTA (Call to Action) to get you to fall for their scam.
How it Works: A phishing website wants your information and tricks you into providing it. The website might be a (fake!) copycat of a real website and, if you enter in your account or financial information, will steal your data!
10. Identity Theft
Identity theft is when a scammer gets ahold of your name, SSN, driver’s license, DOB, or other personally-identifying information.
How it Works: Identity theft can happen through many methods. These may include large company-wide breaches, losing your driver’s license, or mistakenly exposing private data on a phishing website or after a scammer or hacker downloads malware on your computer.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
While scams and scammers may never completely go away, stay safe by fact-checking any information that you receive through digital means or by phone or text. Subscribe to our Social Catfish blog to keep up to date on trends and make sure that 2021 is what 2020 was supposed to be— a great year!
Ready for assistance with your search? Go to Social Catfish and perform an image, email, phone number, username, or name search today. Hire a search specialist and get results that you may not find anywhere else.