The USAA phishing scam is gaining momentum

If you have a military connection, you could be a target

Phishing scams are nothing new. Since the internet came along, scammers have used emails to trick consumers into giving up personal information and downloading malware. 

This week’s ConsumerAffairs-Trend Micro Threat Alert has found that scammers are using the same old scam but have adopted a different company to hide behind.

USAA phishing scam

  • Trend Micro's research identified scammers impersonating the United Service Automobile Association (USAA), an American financial service group, and asking users to validate their account information. Trend Micro's research team detected 353 logs on June 12. 

USAA is a giant financial services company that provides insurance, banking, and other services for members of the U.S. armed forces, retired service members, and family members. That’s a lot of people and scammers can send out millions of phishing emails and the odds are many will be received by USAA members.

USAA has warned its members that scammers are posing as USAA employees and are using a number that looks like it's USAA to call and text members. They may ask you for your password, PIN, one-time code or other login information. 

“We'll never contact you to ask for these details,” the company says. “We'll also never ask you to download software in an email or while you're on the phone with us. If you've provided any information through this type of call or text, call us at 800-531-USAA (8722).”

Father’s Day shopping scam 

  • From May 15 to June 11, Trend Micro's research team detected 385,461 Father’s Day-related shopping scams globally and 133,179 Father’s Day-related shopping scams in the US, which increased 46.6% compared to the last 7 days.  

  • Trend Micro found most of these scams use shopping discounts to attract users to purchase on fake shopping websites, and 45.72% of victims came from Virginia. 

  • The top five states being targeted are Virginia, California, Oregon, Florida, and Illinois.

“In one month, Trend Micro detected over 385,000 Father’s Day-related scams and over 133,000 in the U.S. alone,” Jon Clay, vice president of Threat Intelligence at Trend Micro, told ConsumerAffairs. “There was an almost 50% increase in scams in the last seven days compared to the previous week.”

Clay says consumers who are shopping for a present for their fathers should be cautious when searching for the best deals because scammers will always dangle one to get you to bite.  

“Be wary of texts and emails with deals that look too good to be true,” Clay said. “If you are looking for a specific brand, go to their website directly and do not fall victim to an advertisement from an email, text or even a pop-up ad from another website.”  

 Travel scam 

  • From April 1 to June 11, Trend Micro's research team found 1,588 travel-related scam URLs, which increased by 10.5% compared to the past weeks.  

  • Trend Micro's research team found three fake log-in pages. 

  • The top five states being targeted are Oregon, Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Travel scams can take many forms but booking scams are among the most common. Scammers will put fake listings on short-term rental platforms, complete with photos. They collect the money and then disappear.

One way to counter a booking scam is to read all of the reviews of a property before providing any information. If the reviews don’t seem quite real, they’re probably fake, just like the listing.

Two other scams from previous Threat Alerts are still claiming victims:

Costco survey scam 

  • Trend Micro's research identified scammers inviting users to participate in surveys to get a $100 gift card to access victims’ personal and financial information. 

  • The top five states being targeted are California, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, and North Carolina.

USPS scam 

  • Trend Micro's research identified scammers impersonating USPS to ask customers to verify their parcel delivery and credit card information. 

  • This scam was identified two weeks in a row. 

  • The top five states being targeted are California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, and Tennessee. 

The thing to remember about survey scams is that a company rarely hands out expensive gifts in exchange for your opinion. Costco certainly wouldn’t give hundreds of people a $100 gift card.

As for the Postal Service scam, nearly every person in America is a postal service customer so it is a natural for an imposter scam. You should be leery of anyone claiming to be a USPS employee who says they need to “verify” your credit card information.

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