Keeping up with cybercriminals is like trying to nail jelly to the wall. Just as you think you’re up to speed, a new scam hits the headlines. Using new tech innovations like AI, scammers are getting much better at impersonating banks, health care providers and…us. This year has been no exception, with a slew of fresh scams hitting cell phones and bank accounts everywhere. Here are four scams to watch out for this year.

1. Phony Cell Provider Emails

Increasingly, cybercriminals are taking advantage of cell service outages to scam customers. It’s happening all over the US with AT&T customers, who, after an outage, receive bogus emails offering refunds or credits.

How to avoid it: Never click on links or payment instructions in an email. Always verify that any communication from a provider is coming from an official domain, like @att.com, or call AT&T directly using their official number or website.

2. Grandparent Scams

Grandparent scams have been around for a while, but the FCC reports more advanced versions involving impersonators or AI “clones” using a loved one’s voice (usually a grandchild) and sometimes a spoofed caller ID. The caller claims to be a loved one who’s in jail or has been in an accident. Grandparents are often given a phony case number and are instructed to call an attorney. If they do, a series of other criminals conspire to trick them out of thousands of dollars.

How to avoid it: If you receive an urgent call like that, call your loved one directly to verify that they are safe. If they don’t answer, call other family members to see if they can verify the situation. Remember, the criminals will try to convince you to keep it a secret – don’t.

3. Check “Cooking”

Banks reported nearly 700,000 instances of check fraud in 2022, according to reporting by Associated Press. We’ve talked about criminals stealing checks from mailboxes, but recently they’ve started taking pictures of checks instead. Then they use off-the-shelf digital tools to make counterfeit checks, deposit the digital one using a mobile banking app or sell the checks online.

How to avoid it: Use your credit card as much as possible. When a paper check is unavoidable, skip your mailbox and take it directly to the post office.

4. Home Improvement Scams

In 2023, a study by JW Surety Bonds reported that one in 10 Americans had been a victim of a contractor scam, losing an average of $2,500. These scammers often demand up-front payments or deposits and then fail to complete the work, deliver substandard results or disappear altogether, leaving homeowners out of pocket and with unfinished projects.

How to avoid it: Ensure the contractor is licensed and insured, get everything in writing, don’t skim the contract and never pay the full fee up front.

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