Phishing, other scams cost consumers billions and are hard to stop
If you attended a Passover Seder recently, you likely covered the 10 plagues. If not that, perhaps, in the spirit of the season, you watched “The Ten Commandments,” one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. Ten plagues feature prominently in both, and it has occurred to me that we are experiencing our own 11th plague, and it is fierce.
The practice of scam artists has risen to a new level, thriving at a time when we feel particularly vulnerable. Consider this: In the United States, the scamming industry is estimated to be $29 billion and growing. Consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion in 2021, a 70% increase over the prior year. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in 10 adults in the United States falls victim to a scam every year.
These fraudsters target the most vulnerable part of our population — the elderly — by playing on their victims’ emotions and lack of confidence. The most frequent scams include:
Technology support: Crooks pose as IT mavens from well-known companies like Amazon and Apple. They either charge hefty fees at the start or smaller fees with a hook for longer-term support. They often want to get paid in gift cards or other hard-to-trace schemes. They are warm, conversational and understanding of the victim’s exasperation at not being able to keep up. These perpetrators radiate a “No worries, I’ve got your back” kind of vibe, but they’ve also got your wallet — or credit card. This scam hit my circle of…