The top scams for 2024 will be led by AI, experts say


Watch how a CNN anchor's words are twisted toward fake news

Scammers did plenty to wreck our lives in 2023, but tech and privacy experts say we better hold on for our dear lives because 2024 is going to pack an even greater wallop.

Much of what transpired in 2023 will get boosted by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and an even greater escalation in financial account attacks – ConsumerAffairs #1 scam source for 2023.

As a follow-up to our Top Scams of 2023, ConsumerAffairs consulted people who deal with scams, data, and certain consumer business segments to find out their take. Our panel included: 

AI and financial institutions: A bad marriage?

One look at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s complaint database will tell you AI’s interloping with the financial sector is already proving to be a bad mix.

Already, the scam meter is throbbing at an alarming level. According to Robokiller, robo scam texts increased by 37% to 19.3 billion in 2023 with 246.5 million of those being bank-related scams.

Another financial-related game plan that’s starting to develop is “card not present” (CNP) fraud --  a type of unlawful transaction where the cardholder's physical card isn't actually present but their payment information is used to make unauthorized purchases, that typically happens online, over the phone, or through mail orders.

While the ruse was far from front-page news in 2023, it probably should’ve been. CNP fraud made up 73% of all card payment fraud last year and is expected to continue into 2024 as the dominant way of scamming consumers, especially with online shopping.

Guy Bauman, CMO & co-founder of IronVest, explained how CNP works.

“This kind of fraud occurs without a scammer needing your physical card to steal your money," he said. "Instead, all they need to get their hands on is your credit card number, personal identifying information (PII), such as your name or address, or the three-digit security code on the back.”

Consumers can fight back with 'virtual' credit cards

Bauman drove home the seriousness of scammers using credit card numbers like the ones that can be bought by the millions on the dark web.

“Headed into 2024, consumers are going to continue to wise up to the fact that shopping online is similar to playing roulette – you never actually know if your information is safe,” he said. “For this reason, they will continue to adopt the use of masked or virtual cards to circumvent handing over their actual card information while transacting online.” 

Virtual credit card?

Yes, explains Ashley Eneriz, senior finance writer at ConsumerAffairs.

“Just like how Google Voice allows you to manage and screen your calls without giving out your real number, virtual cards let you shop online without using your real credit card information.”

Eneriz says that virtual cards are available through many banks and credit card companies, but you must have an existing account to sign up for one.

“With a virtual card, a new card number is generated for online and over-the-phone use. The virtual card is connected to your account, making purchase returns and refunds possible, while still shielding your actual card details from potential fraudsters,” she explained.

“Some virtual card providers even offer additional features, such as the ability to set spending limits on each card, or to freeze and unfreeze cards at will. However, you will want to avoid using virtual cards for purchases that require you to show a physical card later, such as booking a hotel or air travel.”

Cloning voices to fool bank execs and grandparents

John Haraburda, the robocall expert from Transaction Network Services (TNS), told ConsumerAffairs that we can expect bad actors to use AI for voice cloning scams to extend beyond the usual consumer targets. “Now, they’ll be increasing their focus on executives and banks in an attempt to trick victims to gain access to accounts,” Haraburda said.

That means that voice-cloning will also take things like the “grandparent scam” to new heights, says Ally Armeson at Cybercrime Support Network. “Scammers are using AI to make their schemes more advanced as seen with the increase in AI-powered family emergency scams in 2023” 

In short, whatever defenses we used in the past are now out the window, Armeson said. “This means we all need to be more careful online, as criminals are using smarter tactics”

Fake news and voter manipulation

If you thought “fake news” was a thing of the past, tech experts say it’ll be back and more believable now that people are figuring out how to use AI to manipulate us.

And manipulation is key, Luis Corrons, security evangelist for Norton, told ConsumerAffairs. “Double check that what you think you see, hear, read and click in 2024 is what it appears to be,” Corrons said.

A lot of that manipulation is expected to wreak havoc in the 2024 election. That may be months away, but Ed Skoudis, faculty at IANS Research, says that it won’t be long before bad actors attempt to win your heart, mind, and money with propaganda and attempts to scam voters out of money and personal information.

“With the backdrop of an election year, nefarious individuals will create fake content, including deep fakes and an overwhelming volume of misleading textual and photographic information. This onslaught aims to confuse and manipulate voters. The repercussions may include rumors, innuendo, and potentially spear-phishing and other targeted attacks against political parties and candidates.” Skoudis told ConsumerAffairs.

How might a deep fake or fake news look in real life? Frighteningly real like this... 

Take an Identity Theft Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.