The reality is that today’s fraud protection mechanisms need urgent advancements since online scammers are getting smarter in 2021. Coronavirus gave them more ideas about how to cheat consumers out of their money. Manipulations around vaccinations have become a part of our daily life. Recent scams include telephone schemes, phishing schemes, and the introduction of malware and ransomware into systems to obtain personal information or money.

It has become such a problem that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided guidance to citizens about these COVID scams and how to avoid them. The most basic tip is not to share any personal, financial, or healthcare information with anyone who calls or texts you regarding the coronavirus vaccination.

Meanwhile, the government also reported a wave of FBI scams. FBI Chicago warned citizens of government impersonation scams in the Chicago area. The FBI says it will never ask you for wire transfers or gift cards, call about “frozen” Social Security numbers and threaten you with arrest if you do not pay.

The troubling trend is expected to evolve in 2021 into new forms of frauds and scams. To be informed means to be armed. At Hennii, we aim to arm you with information about the six hottest online scams in 2021 and how to avoid them.

Impersonation Scams: Are You Sure It’s Your Bank Who Is Calling?

Today, scammers can clone your bank’s, utility company’s, police’s, or even government organization’s telephone number. Number spoofing technology enables them to convince us that we are receiving a phone call from the institution that we trust. Now, you can’t believe the caller’s ID. Malefactors can collect the user data from social media to have enough background information about the victim and make the call more convincing.

The first self-protection tip is to keep in mind that reputable companies and government institutions never ask people to tell their financial information during the phone call. So, if it happens to you it’s better just to report a scam to the company’s help desk.

Protect Yourself from Synthetic Identity Frauds

According to McKinsey, synthetic identity scams are one of the fastest-growing financial crimes in the United States. It means that fraudsters create entirely new identities by stealing personal information from different people and filling the gaps with imaginative details. Criminals may use your real address or phone number to open a new bank account and complete transactions.

In fact, it can’t be named a crime since a personality doesn’t exist. However, it may negatively affect your bank account management and cause verification problems in the future. Experts recommend using stronger passwords and biometrics to protect your identity.

Know About Account Takeover Attacks

Account takeovers mean that criminals steal the consumer login credentials, access a bank account, and make unauthorized transactions to other accounts. Also, they can change your login details to block you from accessing your bank account. Some of them may even sell this information to other criminals. Biometric security methods like Touch ID on Apple devices and fingerprints on Android smartphones can help you secure a bank account and prevent possible takeovers.

Scam Adverts on Google and Social Media

Criminals can pay for online adverts to appear at the top of search engine results. In this example, you can see a malicious ad targeting Revolut app users. Below, there is a real Revolut website with a description that warns the users about the possible online scam and says that the Revolut support team never makes outgoing calls.

Malefactors can easily appear as the first search result on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine. So, you should make sure you get information from the company’s real website.

Online scammers often promote similar ads on social media. Besides malicious adverts, more sophisticated social media scams also include a scheme where the fraudster acts on behalf of an authority figure or can even try to build a romantic communication or friendship with you. Usually, it’s an attempt to earn the user’s trust and get eventual access to their money. The best way to protect yourself is just never to share your personal financial information with anyone.

Transaction Frauds Are More Frequent

This kind of financial fraud occurs when malefactors make online purchases using the stolen payment information. The number of transaction frauds has quickly increased, especially during the coronavirus lockdown when we make most of our shopping online. It gives criminals more opportunities to steal the user's personal financial information like credit card details, CVV code, bank account credentials, etc., and use it with malicious intent.

The user information is usually stolen during phishing attacks when consumers think they deal with a real company or bank and share their financial information. It also happens when the user unintentionally installs malware that collects personal data when clicking on a malicious link in the email. To avoid data breaches, try to check emails supposedly sent from reputable organizations. Hover over all hyperlinks before clicking on them to make sure they lead to real websites. Obvious spelling mistakes in the email copy can also be a sign of a possible phishing attack.

Fake Emails and Texts from “Your Bank”

Fake emails or texts from a “bank” are the danger everyone can face potentially. They have sadly become a part of our reality, as consumers receive them more often than in recent years. Clicking on the link in a phishing email or message can make you download malware or take you to a cloned “bank” website where fraudsters collect sensitive personal or financial information. When you receive an email or message from a bank similar to that below beware not to click on the link.

Fraudsters Don’t Sleep. You Shouldn’t Too

Keep your mind awakened by staying in the loop with the new turns of this financially dangerous trend. We should admit that modern consumers can’t entirely rely on businesses to protect them. Keep these several online security tips in mind when managing your personal finance.

  1. Don’t use the same passwords for all your services and accounts. Modern web browsers can help you generate stronger passwords and remember them so that you can keep yourself safe in the online world.
  2. Also, don’t forget to review your credit report regularly for signs of unusual activity. It will help you detect and report a problem timely.
  3. The last tip from Hennii is to check website URLs carefully to make sure that you are dealing with a real company. The tiny detail in a site address might be the only difference between a real company and a lookalike site cloned by the fraudster.