Scammers target consumers using digital devices

Shimmers, smishing, fake tech support latest scams

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Ever get the sense there’s something fishy about that Nigerian prince asking you for money? While some scams may be easier to detect than others, it doesn’t mean you could never fall for one.

“Data show that everyone — irrespective of age, gender — has the potential to be scammed. And like everything else, scams have moved into the digital space,” Consumer Reports’ Margot Gilman said.

Consumer Reports dove into some of the latest schemes in order to help protect you in a growing world of threats.

The latest scam hitting mobile phones? Smishing.

A person will get a fake text saying there’s a problem with something like their bank account. If they respond to the text, the scammer will know the number is viable and may contact them to get more personal information.

Never click on a link in an email or text without first confirming that it’s from someone you trust. And if you get a phone call from someone asking for information and it sounds even remotely fishy, hang up.

Next up, shimmers, a thin, card-sized gadget that scam artists install on ATMs or gas pumps that have chip card readers.

“ATMs installed at a bank tend to be a lot safer than the kind you might find at a convenience store, which can be so much more easily tampered with,” Gilman said.

There’s also a tech-support fraud scam. That's when your computer freezes and a pop-up tells you to immediately to call a number for tech support. You’re then connected to a fraudulent technician who might ask for remote access to your device. Consumer Reports says to not click on any suspicious pop-ups and never give remote access to your device to anyone you don’t know and absolutely trust. 

If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, Consumer Reports suggests immediately reporting it to the police – an essential step if you want to make an insurance claim on stolen property – and reporting compromised credit or debit card information to the bank.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.