Same concepts, different names: The new digital scams people are falling for

Posted at 6:34 PM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 18:34:02-04

Instead of phishing and skimming, the newest scams are smishing and shimmering.

You may not recognize the latest cons, but there's a good chance you've already come across them.

Consumer Reports detailed seven fast-emerging digital threats that fool even the most saavy.

According to data by the Federal Trade Commission, millennials are now twice as likely to fall for a scam than those 70 and older. However, older adults tend to lose larger amounts of money than younger adults.

Phishing is when a scammer emails a suspicious link. Smishing is when they send it via text message.

“So, it's somebody who sends a text message to your phone and says 'hey, click here on this link for a great deal' or even reply to opt in or out of these text messages,” said Mary Beth Quirk, online consumer editor for Consumer Reports.

The links could contain malware or a virus.

And while simply replying yes or no seems harmless, it's also an indicator that the line is active.

"Then they'll know you're a viable person, you're a number, you're somebody who's willing to respond to them," Quirk said.

Shimmer is a more high-tech take on credit card skimmers.

"Skimming is where there's a device on an ATM machine that can just strip the information off the magnetic strip on your card.  A shimmer instead is a thin card-like device also installed in ATMs that can glean information from your microchip that's embedded in your card," said Quirk.

Her advice is to use ATMs in clear view of video cameras and if it's hard to insert your card that's a sign that something else might be inside.

"People are not always watching. If it's late at night, people can get their tools and pretty easily set those things up," said Quirk.

Another somewhat seemingly benign action could compromise your online data, and it's as easy as clicking the Like button on Facebook. It's called Facebook-like Farming.

"And they're saying, click 'like' to support this little girl with a terrible condition or share this with your friends if you feel love is all around. It can seem really innocent and really heart-felt, but then later these fraudsters will change these pages to be something else. It's either a bogus business, or it's something else scammy where they're just trying to get information from you," said Quirk.

Also, keep an eye out for bogus GoFundMe pages. Don't be afraid to call to get more information on the cause.

And think twice before buying tickets from unfamiliar vendors. Many times they'll add on fees and charges that are triple the face value price.

It's also important that consumers report scams to law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.

The more they know about them, the more likely they are to warn others and do what they can to track down these scammers.

To see the full article on these scams, click here.