Top 10 Scam Forecast for 2015 (2014 figures in parentheses):
1. (1) Phishing and ID theft. Sadly, we think the gap may widen even further between ID theft and other scams. The outlook for data protection is not good with the residue of past breaches, new ones, and hack attacks on newly digitized health records all adding to the woes.
2. (3). Hit-and-run scams. This makes quick and easy money for the scammers with little or no risk. Don’t be surprised if a phone caller demands a wire payment from you — just hang up!
3. (2) Lottery and sweepstakes. Here’s hoping the message finally starts to get through to the public, especially seniors, about this trick. But progress will be slow.
4. (4) Malware. This will remain a persistent threat but we expect to see a further switch in emphasis to malware downloads on smartphones, notably those using the Android operating system. If you’re an Android user, install a reputable security app and don’t install downloads from unofficial sources.
5. (6) Bogus online sites and telesales. This year we’re adding in telesales to this category. The worrying feature is the growth of illegal robocalls by scammers who don’t care a bit about the Do Not Call Registry.Look out for more free air ticket scams (usually an advance fee trick) and bogus “survey” calls (usually a disguised sales call).
6. (5) Grandparent/imposter scams. As with lottery scams, we think further, increased publicity could help reduce the level of this scam.
7. (7) Advance fee scams. Don’t expect to see any easing in the incidence of advance fee scams. In fact, we may see some growth in double-scams where people are asked to pay upfront to supposedly recover money they lost in an earlier scam.
8. (-) Healthcare and Affordable Care Act (ACA) scams. This is our newcomer for the year. In 2014 we reported on the “free medical alert” scam. Now there’s evidence of con artists trying a whole new range of tricks by claiming either they’re working on behalf of Medicare or offering cheap ACA insurance, which turns out to be non-existent.
9. (8) Economy-related scams. Even if the economy picks up, the huge expansion in self-employment and small businesses has created a stack of potential victims for the crooks, so this category is not ready to drop out of the charts just yet.
10. (9) Investment scams. Interest rates could start to rise in the coming months, which could make some phony investments less attractive. But if inflation begins to rise, expect to see more gold and bullion scams. Meanwhile, any turbulence in currency markets could lead to more scams in this category.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!