Over the last couple of years, scammers have had a field day with the enormous growth of online transactions, as millions of us spent months at a time indoors.
Continual new threats emerge as hackers find ways around online security systems and identify opportunities to trick everyday people from parting with their cash.
Today we’ve collated some of the most worrying scams forecast for 2022. If you’d like more advice about spotting scams before they begin, there’s a useful Wonga article here that provides a checklist of red flags to be wary of.
The COVID-19 Test Scam
Along with a global pandemic came unethical criminals who seized the chance to use the disruption to their benefit.
Testing scams are a new concept and can take several forms:
- Offers of ‘reduced-price’ testing – official tests are free unless you need a private test for travel purposes, so you shouldn’t ever be asked to pay.
- Invitations to have a test conducted at home by a medical professional. If you need at-home testing, for example, due to mobility issues, your GP or healthcare provider will organise this for you without payment.
- Notice of a fine, usually associated with breaking a restriction. Happily, these have waned in effectiveness since most lockdown rules have been lifted, but it’s one to know about should that situation change!
You might also receive an email or text with a link to see your test results or advising that you’ve been in close contact with an infected person and need to click the link to book an official test.
Be very cautious if it’s an unknown number or email address or doesn’t exactly match the correspondence you usually receive from your doctor or healthcare department.
Doctors and hospitals will always welcome a call if you’ve received a message and need to double-check whether it is legitimate. You can read more on the latest Omicron based Covid-19 scams here.
The Small Business Funding Scam
Governments worldwide introduced a range of grants, loans and business support measures over the last couple of years to help companies struggling during trading restrictions.
This scam is another where fraudsters have used chaotic economic conditions to launch new scams, offering to fast track an application for relief funding.
No government or treasury department offers priority services in exchange for cash payment, and inadvertently falling for the scam could make your situation far more difficult.
If you need to progress a claim or application, it’s best to ring the appropriate department directly and never believe that an offer to speed up the process for payment is genuine.
The Fake Competition Scam
Most consumers are now well aware of the scam attempts that appear as an email from a distant relative (or perfect stranger!) offering large sums of cash in return for a small transfer.
The updated version for 2022 tends to be correspondence claiming that a person has won a considerable amount on a lottery they haven’t entered or has been left a huge inheritance from somebody they’ve never heard of.
These scams sometimes appear to be from well-known companies or banks, so make sure to conduct due diligence checks before you believe something that might be too good to be true.
The Identity Fraud Scam
Hackers can obtain a worrying amount of personal information by stealing data from institutions.
With your phone number, email address, name and other details, a fraudster can call or email you at will, often eliciting information commonly used in passwords.
Any business you buy from, or a bank you use, will have your details on file and would have no justifiable reason to call you asking for your date of birth, shoe size, or the name of your first pet!
Giving out information can mean you unwittingly give a criminal the means to steal your identity, access your bank accounts, or take out loans in your name that they will never repay.
The Digital Payment Scam
Digital payments, biometric logins, money transfers and options such as Apple Pay have become more commonplace than cash or even contactless payments.
We’re all now far more health-conscious than a couple of years ago, and in some regions, it’s pretty impossible to pay for anything with physical cash.
With that change comes a new wave of scams, given that digital payments are easier to manipulate.
- Intercepted payments – where you try to pay something through social media, and a third party intercepts the transaction and sends you to a fake website to finalise the transaction.
- Website takeovers – if you receive an emailed link, it might not be a virus. Still, it could be a replicated website or even a legitimate website that has been hacked, with criminals controlling the payment plugin. That means you try to log in or type out your card details while giving your banking information directly to the hacker.
- Security scams – criminals will often contact intended victims, telling them they’ve been hacked or their account security has been compromised. The target is told they need to provide banking details to confirm their identity while passing them to fraudsters.
Digital payment fraud can take multiple other forms, such as scams relating to benefit payments or unemployment support, so always take care with entering your credit card or bank account numbers.
Reporting Suspected Fraud
We hope this list of 2022 consumer scams helps you remain vigilant, whether you’re online or not, and take note of behaviour that indicates you might be an intended scam victim.
If you spot anything concerning or receive unexpected contact from someone purportedly from your bank or lender, get in touch with them directly to verify whether it’s genuine.
The faster you report attempted fraud, the better the chances that the authorities will catch the criminal, so it’s well worth alerting your provider anytime you believe there is potential that someone is out to scam you.