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Spot the Scam: Latest Scams of the Week (As of Dec 11)

It’s that time of the week again!
Latest scams such as free Netflix subscription phishing messages (!), fake check scams through emails, and robocall scams. Did you see anything similar in your inbox?

Netflix “free subscription” phishing scam

We’ve noticed some text messages such as this “Due to the pandemic, Netflix is giving everyone a free 1-year subscription to help you stay at home. Get yours here: (link)” were sent to many people recently. Be careful, these messages are phishing scams!

Netflix free subscription phishing scam.
Netflix free subscription phishing scam. Source: Reddit

How phishing messages work
Scammers try to trick people to click the phishing link included in these messages, pretending as Netflix and claiming to be giving away free subscriptions.
Similar method can be seen from other phishing text messages. For example, scammers might ask you to track your delivery or to verify your account via the link they provide. If you click on the link, you will either accidentally share your login credentials or other personal information with the scammers, or in worse case, unknowingly download malicious files to your device.

More examples of phishing text messages.
More examples of phishing text messages. Source: Reddit (left) & Twitter (right)

How to avoid phishing scams?
It is important to stay alert and check before your next move. Be aware of any too good to be true offers and unknown links sent or shared by people you don’t know. If you are unsure of content or request, you can simply copy/paste the link (URL) and send it to Trend Micro Check for immediate scam detection. Too lazy to copy/paste? You can send screenshot directly to Trend Micro Check as well!

Check if the link is safe with Trend Micro Check in seconds.
Check if the link is safe with Trend Micro Check in seconds.
Send the screenshot to Trend Micro Check chatbot for immediate scam detection.
Send the screenshot to Trend Micro Check chatbot for immediate scam detection.

Fake check scams targeting college students

Fake check scams targeting college students have been recurring.

Common tactics for fake check scams
In fake check scam, fraudsters often send you fake checks and ask you to return a part of the money by wiring or purchasing prepaid cards for them. Victims fell for fake check scams because they mistakenly thought the checks are real and gave their money away BEFORE the bank found out the check was fake.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned that scammers are pretending to be professors and send part-time job offers (such as teaching or research assistant) to college students through student emails. After the initial outreach, scammers would send students fake check for thousands of dollars, claiming they’ve overpaid an amount of money. With that, scammers would ask students to pay the “overpaid” part back with prepaid cards.

How to avoid fake check scams?
According to FTC, “Fake checks are used in many types of scams,” such as mystery shopping, claiming prizes, overpayments… and the list goes on.
No matter what type it is, the bottom line remains the same; NEVER give money to someone who sends you a check! Here are useful tips to protect yourself from fake check scams:

  • Don’t take checks from people you don’t know, especially when they say they’ve overpaid.
  • Ignore ‘prize’ offers that you have to pay for.
  • Never wire money, let alone giving prepaid cards to strangers.
  • Take a closer look at the check you receive, or contact your bank first to verify authenticity of the check.
  • Report to your local police, government, FTC, or the platform you encountered the scammers (e.g. Facebook marketplace) if you spot fake check scam!

Robocall scams from fake Amazon and Apple support

Phone call scams and robocall scams
Phone call scam (sometimes referred as robocall scam) is when scammers pretend to be well-known companies, banks, the police, celebrities, or staffs from notable organizations and call you – claiming there is a problem with your account/membership/orders…etc, and request you to take action such as paying money or change settings to your accounts.
In the latest version of robocall scams, victims have received calls in which a recorded voice pretending to be someone from Amazon says there’s something wrong with their accounts, mentioned in FTC‘s blog post. In other case, victims have received calls from scammers claiming there’s “suspicious activity” in their Apple iCloud accounts.

How to avoid robocall/phone call scams?

As suggested by FTC, “if you’ve received an unexpected call or message about a problem with any of your accounts, hang up.

  • Do Not press 1 to speak with customer support
  • Do Not call a phone number they gave you
  • Do Not give out your personal information

Check before your next move. You can contact the officials/organizations/companies yourself to make sure if the issue raised over the phone is true!

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