Scammers try to trick auto accident witnesses into revealing personal details: Internet Scambusters #620
In the heat of the moment after an auto accident, you may not have all your wits about you when someone asks for your personal or insurance details, whether you're involved or just a witness.
But watch out! It could be a scammer on the prowl, as we explain in this week's Snippets issue.
We also have details of two other ID theft tricks plus a warning about bogus calls telling victims they must pay for a new electricity meter.
Let's get started...
Beware of Latest Auto Accident and ID Theft Scams
Have you ever witnessed an auto accident? If so -- or maybe if it happens in the future -- you probably won't be surprised to be asked to provide your contact details in case your evidence is needed for an insurance claim or even a court case.
But if that happens, beware! You may be being lined up for a new type of ID theft.
In this trick, scammers turn up at accident scenes claiming to be police accident investigators.
They may not only speak to witnesses but also to those who are actually involved in the incident, asking to see driver's licenses, insurance and other documents, as well as names, addresses and Social Security numbers.
This is quite a stack of useful information for a crook.
An insurance specialist in Las Vegas, who recently stumbled across this scam, said the information could be used for insurance fraud as well as ID theft.
"If some strangers ask you for things, I would be leery of that," the agent said.
In most states, the law does not require witnesses to give any information other than their name and address to police; and you can usually be pretty sure who is a police officer -- they'll normally turn up in uniform and in a marked car.
If they don't, ask to see identification before parting with this information.
If you're actually involved in an accident and have to show your license and exchange insurance information, make sure you only give this and any other required information to the other driver and confirmed police officers.
Storage Almost Full
There was a time when it wasn't unusual to run out of storage space on your computer or anywhere else you store your data.
That doesn't happen so much these days. But that doesn't stop crooks using this situation as a pretext for a scam.
It comes in the form of an email message that might appear to be from your IT department, if you're at work, or from your email service provider.
Here's the text of just such a message, received by a member of the Scambusters team:
<Begin message> Subject: *Technical Issue with your web-mail.
*Technical Issue with your web-mail. This is to inform you that your mailbox has exceeds its storage limit and it is generating a continuous error script (code:505) which will slow the email server. You will be unable to receive and send emails in few hours if you do not reset your account space. To reset your Account Space on our system database, prior to maintain your INBOX from 20G to 20.9G. CLICK HERE toReset and validate your account. Sincerely, IT Department The Outlook Mail Team This e-mail was sent by using automated process. Please, do not reply to this e-mail as it cannot accept replies. <end message>
Note the poor English, which is a scam giveaway. Nevertheless, the technical jargon lends it a bit of an air of authenticity, but anyone who clicks the link will probably end up with a virus on their PC.
Giving sign-on information while you're at work could also help hackers access your company's IT system.
So, beware of anything like this. As always, we advise you not to click on links in emails but to independently check with whoever supposedly sent the message.
Not A Facebook Hack
On the subject of giving away access to your PC, a clever new Facebook scam aims to do just that by preying on your sense of curiosity and even mischief.
This time, victims receive a message that pretends to explain how they can easily hack their friends' Facebook accounts.
Here's the message:
<Begin message> Hack any Facebook account following these steps:
1. Go to the victim's profile. 2. Click right click then inspect element then click the "Console" tab. 3. Paste the code into the box at the bottom and press enter the code is in the website: (the message then lists a website address)
Good luck Don't hurt anybody <end message>
Again, the poor grammar and punctuation are a giveaway that this is not right. Plus, common sense would tell you it's not that easy to hack someone's Facebook account.
Victims who do this would actually be hacking their own account for the scammers!
They will then use this account as a platform to send the same message to everyone on the victim's Friends list.
Facebook has issued a warning, telling users not to paste code into their browsers in this way. Enough said.
Alert of the Week
Don't be fooled by a supposed call from your power company saying your meter needs to be replaced with a special new set-up -- and that you have to pay for it right now by credit card.
It's the latest variation of the phony power company scam in which victims are told they must settle an unpaid bill, only this one seems more convincing.
If your electric meter has to be replaced through no fault of your own, you won't have to pay -- and even if you did, you'd get a bill after it was installed, not before.
That's all for today -- we'll see you next week.