Scammers, hackers, bandit tow truck drivers and other fraudsters waiting to rob you of your hard-earned money is what you should be worried about in these times.
According to the FBI, the average family in the U.S has increased insurance premiums between $400 and $700 per year because of these con men.
One of the scariest things about these groups of people is that: They look like the everyday man. They can be tow truck drivers, roofing contractors e.t.c, they look like everyone else.
Let’s take a look at some of the scams they pull below:
The Wolf Dressed in Contractor’s Clothing:
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) caution the consumers to be wary of these fraudulent contractors who try to take advantage of vulnerable people.
The scam works like this: In the event of a hail storm in your neighborhood that destroys or damages your roof, you are contacted by an unsolicited person who claims to be a contractor.
They normally pressure you to sign a contract on the spot with a lowball offer. If you happen to pay them, they might skip town with the money or do incomplete work with sub-standard materials.
Here’s how to avoid this type of scam:
- Coordinate with your insurance company: Have your insurance adjuster inspect the damage and make a home insurance claim for roof damage. Your claim could be denied if your contractor completes the repairs before your adjuster looks at the damage.
- Get more than one estimate: Don’t let any contractor pressure you into signing a contract.
Always ask to see the contractor’s general liability insurance and check that the policy effective dates have not expired.
- Research your contractor: Verify to see if they have had any complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Ask if their members of any local, regional or national roofing industry associations.
Get a signed contract before the contractor begins work: Do not leave any portion of the contract blank. The contract should contain the cost, payment schedules, time schedules, and any other expectations.
- Do not pay in cash: When the work is completed and meets local building codes, then you can pay in full or sign a completion certificate only.
- Contact local authorities if you suspect a scam.
The Ghastly Jump-In Passenger:
After an auto accident, someone who wasn’t in any of the cars files an injury claim against you. This is called a “jump-in” and it’s a very common scheme.
The Scam works like this: You get involved in a car accident and exchange insurance information with the other driver.
There were no police or witnesses on the scene, however, your insurance company informs you later on that a passenger is claiming injuries and seeking to get a settlement from your liability car insurance.
Here’s how to avoid this type of scam: The best you can do is to collect adequate and accurate information at the scene of the accident since it’s basically your word against theirs.
Get the headcount, names, and contact information of everyone involved. Most insurance companies have an investigative unit that solves this kind of problem.
Bandit Tow Truck on the Prowl:
Incidents such as a flat tire, dead battery, being stranded on the side of the road and car accidents are what these con men look out for.
They swoop in like saviors to the scene and slap you with an inflated bill. The NICB has cautioned drivers to be wary of these fake bandit tow trucks.
The scam works like this: A random tow truck driver shows up when your car is unable to move due to an accident. He hands you a blank document to sign and adds other charges for services that were not necessary, then you get stuck with the bill.
How to avoid this scam: Make sure you get a price list, which includes daily storage fees and any other charges that might apply before you work with any tow truck driver.
Never give permission to an uninvited tow truck driver, unless you call them yourself or they are invited by the police or your insurance company.
It is best to also get roadside assistance insurance, which you can access through your auto insurance, an auto club, or your credit cards.
Cyber Criminals Camouflaging Tricks as Gifts:
According to the FBI, there are 4,000 ransomware attacks every day. Fraudsters will often target your cell phone or emails in order to steal your information.
They use means such as phishing, spoofing, spam as well as robocalls. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, Americans lost over $54 million to phishing scams in the year 2020.
The scam works like this: The goal is always to steal your personal information so they send links that contain malware, so immediately you click on them, the malware is automatically downloaded onto your device.
They do this by preying on your fear through emails, robocalls, and text messages. During the 2020 pandemic, they offered up false promises of covid cures and vaccine appointments.
What you can do to avoid this scam: Always be wary of links or attachments sent to you and do not give out personal information. Do not answer phone calls, open emails, or reply to text messages from people you don’t know.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) caution that phishing scams may look like a company you trust and know such as social media sites, online payment websites, banks, or credit card companies.
They recommend these steps to protect you from phishing:
- Backup your data and make sure they are not connected to your home network
- Set automatic updates for mobile devices
- Use security software on your computer and set it to update automatically
- Use multi-factor authentication for your accounts. This means you need two or more credentials to log in, such as your password and facial recognition.
Insurance could also help you recover from cyber-attacks;
Identity theft insurance: This covers expenses such as lost wages, legal fees, and credit card application fees when you need to recover from identity theft.
Personal cyber insurance: This covers all expenses due to a range of cybercrimes such as cyberbullying, online fraud, cyber extortion, and data breach.