Scams, Scams and More Darn Scams

Scams, Scams and More Darn Scams

Did you know that there are at least 48 different types of identity theft and the number of scams involved in each is growing daily? Romance scams, residence scams, utility scams, employment scams, telephone scams, email scams, charity scams, Apple care scams, AirBNB scams, PayPal scams, census scams, ticket scams, government scams, medical scams, insurance scams, real estate scams, investment scams, lottery and sweepstakes scams … there really isn’t one facet of our lives that isn’t ‘scam-able.’ As the weather turns colder, it kind of makes you want to curl up under an electric blanket and hibernate for a bit doesn’t it!


Although everyone with a social security number is at risk for identity theft, there are two groups that are targeted more often: children and seniors. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has studied why. They explain, “Children are targeted to establish a ‘clean slate.’ Seniors are targeted over the telephone and through phishing scams. Some studies suggest that people become more trusting as they age, which helps to explain why it’s more difficult for older adults to detect fraudsters.”


The next high-risk group that follows children and seniors are the military mostly due to deployment, which impacts their ability to respond to a threat in a timely manner. According to the Federal Trade Commission, military consumers are most affected by credit card and bank fraud. Another high-risk group is identity theft repeat victims. As reported in Consumer Affairs, “people who have previously been affected by identity theft are at a greater risk for future identity theft and fraud.” According to the Center for Victim Research, “7-10% of the U.S. population are victims of identity fraud each year and 21% of those experience multiple incidents of identity theft.”


Lastly, the deceased are targeted. Stealing a dead person’s identity, commonly known as “ghosting,” will often go unnoticed by surviving family for months or years. A report dating from 2012 stated that 2.5 million deceased American identities are stolen each year. Of those 2.5 million stolen identities, 800,000 were used to open lines of credit or get a mobile phone plan.


Fraudsters oftentimes repeat their favorite most lucrative scams, which are driven by major financial life moments, such as taxes and holiday shopping. Yes, it’s getting to be that time of year, and, guess what … the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, is seeing a huge increase in fake order cancellation scams. If you receive an email about an order cancellation from Amazon, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. Click on links in the email and you could unintentionally download malware onto your device. Or you might be sent to a site that aims to collect your Amazon account information, like your username and password. If you receive such an email and recently placed an order, go to directly to check your order status.


Most of our blogs offer tips to help protect yourself and your family from identity theft. There is one tip in this blog: Remain aware of scams and that they can touch every facet of your life. By staying in-the-know, you can help every month be National Cybersecurity Awareness month … not just October.


If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered identity theft, please reach out to us as soon as possible. Our Guard Well member services team is available around the clock, every day of the year. Email or call 888.966.GUARD (4827) for help.

How to Protect Yourself During the  U.S. Government Shutdown

How to Protect Yourself During the U.S. Government Shutdown

Tax season and scams usually go hand in hand. With the longest government shutdown in history occurring during the same timeframe (January through April), there are added concerns.

Today marks the 32nd day that over 800,000 federal workers are not receiving pay, with 380,000 of them having to still report to work. Additionally, millions of government contractors are impacted, such as IT, research and project management professionals, as well as lower-wage janitors, security guards and cafeteria servers. While some federal employees may receive back pay when the government gets back up and running, contractors will not be reimbursed for this time off. Many are already receiving notices that their health insurance coverage has expired or will in the next few weeks[1]. With lapses in health insurance, medical identity theft will undoubtedly be on the rise.

Government shutdown or not, scammers are always hard at work trying to get your identity and money. During this time period it is going to be even easier for them to do so especially with nine out of 15 critical federal agencies and departments being closed.

The Federal Trade Commisson (FTC) is the government agency where you would file a report if your identity is compromised. The website that you would use to file said complaint with the FTC is If you visit the website today, you will see that it has temporarily disappeared. Instead, a notice appears saying that operations will resume when the government is funded. If you can’t contact the FTC, where do you go for help if you suspect identity fraud has occurred?

What You Can Do

There are some immediate steps to take if you think your identity has been compromised:

  • File your taxes early. The best way to avoid a tax scam is to file your taxes as early as possible. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will still be reviewing tax returns. Unfortunately, if you are due a refund, that money will not provided until the government is funded.
  • Partnering with a reputable identity resolution provider is critical. Make sure that the identity theft coverage includes monitoring and full resolution services. Advanced monitoring uses powerful technology to scour billions of identity records and non-credit sources to detect fraud in credit, non-credit and public records. Full resolution involves many steps required to replace government documents, such as your driver’s license and passport, as well as protect your credit score.
  • File a police report and request a copy of it. You will need to give copies of the report to creditors as well as the credit bureaus.
  • Contact your bank(s) and/or insurance institutions and dispute fraudulent activity on the accounts.
  • Consider a credit freeze or fraud alert. A credit freeze locks down your credit while a fraud alert allows creditors to receive a copy of your credit report. Fraud alerts can prevent someone from opening an account in your name but they will not stop your existing accounts from being compromised. For victims of identity theft, an extended fraud alert can protect your credit for seven years.

During this uncertain time when we as individuals have no control over the government shutdown, taking some proactive steps to help keep our family safe and identities secure is more important than ever.

[1] Nova, Annie. CNBC. January 23, 2019