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Watch Out For These Latest Information-Stealing Scams Thumbnail

Watch Out For These Latest Information-Stealing Scams

When it comes to information-stealing scams, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that we are getting scammed less. According to Motley Fool, there were 1.036 million reports of identity theft in 2023, down from 1.107 million in 2022 and 1.4 million in 2021.1 The bad news is that scammers are becoming more sophisticated, so we have to stay diligent about protecting our personal information.

In this article, let’s look at some of the most common information-stealing scams so that you can be aware of them and protect yourself.

Text Message Scams

Text message scams, also known as SMS phishing or “smishing,” have surged in popularity among scammers due to the widespread use of smartphones. These messages often appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks or financial institutions and aim to trick recipients into revealing personal information or clicking on malicious links.

Example: Fake Account Alerts
One prevalent text message scam involves fake account alerts. Scammers send texts claiming suspicious activity on your bank account and urge you to click on a link to verify your information. The link, however, leads to a fraudulent website designed to steal login credentials.

Apart from pretending to be your bank, scammers can also pretend to be other financial apps, such as Venmo or PayPal.

To avoid falling victim to these scams, remember the following:

  • Verify the Sender: Legitimate financial institutions typically use recognizable phone numbers or official shortcodes for their messages. If the sender’s number seems unfamiliar or suspicious, it’s likely a scam.
  • Think Before Clicking: Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited messages, especially if they claim urgent action is required. Instead, independently verify the information by visiting the involved institution’s official website or calling its customer service department.


Robocalls, which are automated phone calls that deliver prerecorded messages, have been a long-standing nuisance. However, scammers have increasingly used them to target individuals’ banking and investment accounts.

Example: Investment Scams
In one example of a prevalent scheme, scammers use robocalls to offer fake investment opportunities with promises of high returns.2 These calls often claim to be from reputable financial firms or offer exclusive deals, luring unsuspecting individuals into providing their personal and financial information.

Follow these tips to protect yourself from investment-related robocall scams:

  • Be Skeptical: Approach unsolicited investment opportunities with caution. Remember, if an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Verify Credentials: Do thorough research on a company before sharing any information or making investments. Legitimate investment firms will have a verifiable track record and proper licensing.

Phishing Emails

Phishing emails remain a favorite tool for scammers seeking to steal sensitive information. These emails are designed to appear legitimate, often mimicking official correspondence from banks or investment firms.

Example: Account Verification Requests
A typical phishing email tactic involves requests for account verification. The email typically states that your account needs immediate attention due to suspicious activity or an expiring security certificate. It then prompts you to click on a link or download an attachment, which leads to a fake login page designed to capture your credentials.

What to do to avoid falling for phishing emails:

  • Inspect URLs: Hover your mouse over email links to see the URL. If it looks suspicious or doesn’t match the sender’s website, don’t click on it. Instead, report the email to your email provider.
  • Check for Red Flags: Watch out for spelling errors, generic greetings (e.g., “Dear Customer”), and urgent language designed to evoke a quick response.
  • Use Two-Factor Authentication: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts whenever possible. Even if scammers obtain your login credentials, 2FA provides an additional layer of security.

Protect Your Personal Information

As scammers continue to evolve and use more sophisticated tactics, staying informed and vigilant is crucial to safeguarding your financial information. Here are some additional tips to help protect yourself and secure your personal information:

Regularly Monitor Your Accounts
Routinely check your bank and investment account statements for any unauthorized transactions. Report any suspicious activity to your financial institution immediately.

Keep Software Updated
Ensure that your devices, including smartphones and computers, have the latest security updates and antivirus software.

Educate Yourself and Others
Share information about these scams with friends and family, especially those who may be more vulnerable to such schemes.

By staying informed and adopting best practices, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to  information-stealing scams. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and safeguard your finances in the digital age.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, it's crucial to take immediate action to mitigate further harm and seek assistance. Here are some resources and steps to consider:

1. Contact Your Financial Institution: Immediately inform your bank or credit card company about the scam. They can help freeze your account or issue a new card to prevent further unauthorized transactions.

2. Report the Scam to Authorities:

   - Federal Trade Commission (FTC): File a complaint with the FTC. The FTC investigates scams and provides guidance on what to do next.

   - Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): Report internet crime to the IC3, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

3. Local Law Enforcement: Contact your local police department or authorities to file a report. This can be important for documentation purposes and to potentially track down the scammers.

4. Credit Bureaus: Place a fraud alert on your credit report with all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). This helps prevent identity theft resulting from the scam.

5. Consumer Protection Agencies: Check if there are any consumer protection agencies or organizations in your area that can provide guidance or assistance specific to your situation.

6. Online Resources and Helplines: Many countries have dedicated helplines and websites for scam victims. For example, in the United States, you can visit https://www.usa.gov/common-scams-frauds for information on common scams and resources.

7. Legal Assistance: Consider consulting with a lawyer specializing in consumer law if you need advice on legal options or potential recourse against the scammers.

8. Emotional Support: Being a victim of a scam can be emotionally distressing. Seek support from friends, family, or a counselor to help you cope with the situation.

9. Educational Resources: Educate yourself about common scams and how to protect yourself in the future. Knowledge about different types of scams can prevent you from becoming a victim again.

10. Documentation: Keep all documentation related to the scam, including emails, receipts, transaction records, and any communication with the scammers or relevant authorities.

Taking swift action and seeking appropriate help can minimize the impact of the scam and help in recovering any losses. Each situation may vary, so it's essential to tailor these resources to your specific circumstances and jurisdiction. 

  1. https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/research/identity-theft-credit-card-fraud-statistics
  2. https://www.scmagazine.com/news/new-online-investment-scams-powered-by-bots-to-simulate-fake-experts

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.