Maggie Passino, a college freshman at Virginia Tech University, lost over a thousand dollars near the beginning of this semester. She received several supposedly urgent phone calls from a man who claimed to be an employee at the IRS, telling her that she owed back taxes and school taxes to the government. The caller claimed that she needed to pay up, or else she would be arrested.
Passino was instructed to buy $1762 worth of iTunes cards, and to pay the imposters by reading them the codes so that they would receive the money and be on their way. This was done so that the money would be untraceable, according to USAtoday.
This has raised concerns over how many people fall for such scams, and how to keep them from happening.
3 out of 18 students surveyed at John Brown University stated that they had previously fallen victim to a scam, and 5 out of 18 said that they personally knew a scam victim.
Vulnerable demographics, such as senior citizens, are more likely to fall victim to scam artists. “Scam artists target vulnerable populations,” Dr. Randall Waldron, a professor of economics and international business at JBU.
Typically, a scam artist of this kind will try to intimidate or inundate a victim with calls to get them to send them money quickly. Other types of scams will ask for personal information, such as credit card numbers, passwords and even social security numbers.
“Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot more about the need for ‘Cyber Security,’ the threat that hackers pose. Even the government has had its records hacked and stolen, and everyone is actually vulnerable, even if you take the strongest precautions,” Waldron said.
Typically, the best way to keep from becoming a victim of scam artists is to be cautious of calls, emails and texts from unknown senders.
“No one should be making it easy for the scam artists, so don’t go advertising your vulnerability,” Waldron said. “Protect your credit and debit cards and your account information, and use caution on public computers and unprotected wi-fi systems.”
“Check your credit card accounts, bills, and bank accounts, and investigate any apparent oddities or charges, or accounts you don’t recognize,” Waldron added.