4 Scams that can Lead to Hurt Finances for Graduates

In the past few years, tens of millions of Americans have learned the hard way that there are all kinds of identity theft scams out there that can hurt their finances in a number of ways, and one group that may be particularly susceptible to such a crime is young adults.

Those who have limited experience in dealing with credit may be more likely to fall prey to criminals’ scams, simply due to the fact that they not know what they should be on the lookout for. As such, taking the time to learn a handful of some of the more common schemes criminals use to rip off unsuspecting borrowers may help them to better avoid such issues in the future and make sure they maintain their healthy finances and good credit scores.

1. Phishing

This is a scam many young people, particularly those who spend a lot of time on social media, may see more often than others. Usually, it involves a criminal sending many potential victims messages — be it through text, email, Facebook message, regular mail or even by phone — asking them to verify certain data about themselves or their accounts, usually under the pretense that something is amiss. For instance, many may pose as representatives of a bank, government agency or business.

However, an easy way to spot these scams is to keep in mind that no legitimate organization would ever call someone unprompted and ask them to turn over any information, whether it’s personal data like their name and address or Social Security number, as well as financial data like account numbers and PIN codes. The best way to avoid this kind of crime is to ignore the messages.

2. Skimming

This kind of scam is harder to spot because it usually involves a criminal installing a small device on a machine that reads credit and debit cards, such as a gas pump, ATM or point-of-scale scanner at a store. Some can even do this remotely with hacking attacks. Unfortunately, this kind of crime is also growing more common.

Usually, the only way for a person to tell whether he or she has been affected by this type of crime is to keep close tabs on whatever account statements arrive at the end of each month, and attempt to identify any transactions that they don’t recognize, then report them as quickly as possible to the institutions that the accounts may have been compromised.

3. Attack sites

This is another common one many young people may run across in their everyday Internet browsing. These sites can take numerous forms, but many are hidden with links promising to show a “shocking” viral video. Others might be designed to look exactly like popular banking or online shopping sites. Some try to steal sensitive data, and others attempt to load malware onto the computer used to visit them.

Fortunately, there are two very easy ways to avoid these issues. First, legitimate sites will use payment pages that are encrypted using HTTPS, which will show up (usually with a lock icon) in the address bar. Moreover, installing virus and malware protection programs will help block any harmful programs these sites may try to download onto one’s computer.

4. Stolen credit cards

Sometimes the simplest crimes can be as harmful as the most elaborate ones. When a young person loses or misplaces their cards, purse or wallet, a criminal might find it, and use the cards to make a number of fraudulent purchases. When cards come up missing, it’s wise for accountholders to contact the institutions that issued them right away to report the situation.

Of course, consumers should also take the time to order copies of their credit reports to make sure there are no unfair markings listed in their names. If any are discovered, working with a credit repair company may help to correct the issue.

Posted in Finance
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