Be it through mail services, phone calls, emails, or hacking, scams are now an extremely popular form of theft. What’s more concerning? Florida ranks as the 2nd worst state for the number of scam victims and loss of assets, and Jacksonville ranks as the 10th worst city for potential scam victims. Scam and fraud crimes come in many different forms. Fortunately, we have you covered! We composed a list of common scams in the Jacksonville area, how to identify these scams, and what you can do in response to being targeted!
Scammers who prioritize sending emails are always evolving their craft to find new ways to acquire victims. Here are some common email scams that have been circulating the Jacksonville area:
- Package Delivery Delayed. This scam usually disguises itself as a common delivery service, such as Fed Ex, UPS, or the United States Postal Service. The subject lines of the emails typically contain phrases such as “Delivery problem,” “order acceptance” or “express shipment notification.” They will include a link you can follow to provide money or personal identification information to “fix” the problem
- Better Business Bureau Imposter. This scam is popular for targeting work emails. In an ironic twist, the impostor claims to be investigating (fake) fraudulent charges made to your work account, promising to refund the damages. They typically attempt to get you to follow a link to a website that may appear to be a BBB website, but is actually a fake.
- Missing Payments. These emails scams frequently look the part of a utility service provider. They will claim that you have missed a payment on one or more bills, and your services will be turned off soon unless payment is made quickly.
Most of these scams have a number of running similarities that can alert you something is amiss. They will almost always push a sense of urgency in an effort to get you to act quickly without thinking. Most will include hyperlinks with the name of the legitimate company but a suspicious URL (example: UPS Customer Assistance Department linking to ‘Support@compstart . com’)
Poor grammar or spelling are excellent red flags. The emails will usually be sparse on the details for the problem they are claiming you have, and all will be trying to direct you towards making either a payment or supplying them with personal information such as credit or debit card numbers. Some of these scams are done by professionals who can photoshop very convincing bank statements and create websites that look very legitimate.
NEVER follow any links in these emails. Sometimes visiting the page alone is enough for them to silently install malware or trojan viruses on your computer or server. If you DO follow a link, immediately run a malware and virus scan on your computer or shut it off and take it to a professional to have a thorough check done. Don’t reply to these emails or call any phone numbers they provide. Instead, you should google whatever company they are claiming to be, find a phone number off of the google search, and call directly.
Cellular and home phone scams are devastatingly popular in Jacksonville at the moment.
- Can You Hear Me? Both inventive and disturbing, this phone scam is all about stealing your voice of all things. The Scammer will call a victim, repeat “can you hear me”, and record the call. If you respond “yes,” “sure,” or “okay” they can take the recording and attempt to sign you up for services that require only a “verbal” agreement.
- Police Officer Scam. Another disturbing scam revolves around a scammer contacting a victim and claiming they have outstanding warrants, have missed a court date, or some other infraction. The caller will claim to either be a Law Enforcement Officer or work for the local district courts. The goal of this scam is to get the victim to make a “payment” for fines with gift cards, such as iTunes or GreenDot cards.
- Late Bill Payment. Similar to the email scam, this scam involves a scammer acting as though they are with a utility company such as JEA. They will threaten to turn off your utilities if a payment isn’t made quickly and will either try to get you to pay in gift cards or with a credit/debit card.
One of the wisest decisions you can make to avoid phone scams is to simply avoid answering numbers you don’t know. If it is an important call, whoever is making it will leave you a message. We also must stress this, police officers and utility companies will NEVER contact you by phone in an effort to collect an immediate payment, nor will they ever request that money be paid through gift cards or wire transfer.
Hang up immediately if you end up on the phone with one of these scammers. Write down their number and contact local law enforcement with details on the call.
If you’re ever contacted by a scammer via phone or email, there is a very real possibility that some of your personal information may be available online to malicious individuals. This unfortunately means strangers will be able to discover where you live and work. That information is more than enough to inform criminals on what time frames would be ideal to target your home for a burglary. The best way to keep your home safe from threats like this is by installing a monitored home security system. Not only is this the best way to deter criminals, having your home outfitted with home surveillance cameras and video monitoring is the best way to catch anyone who does intrude in you home.
The ideal target for a scammer is someone who isn’t aware of how innovative or clever modern scams can be. Please explain the dangers of modern scams with friends or family members whom you feel may be susceptible to these malicious crimes!