Scams

Scam Alerts: Beware Unattended ATMs, Down-Payment Fraud

Fresh hustles and cons you need to avoid.

Hucksters and scammers are constantly on the move trying to get at your money — and stay one step ahead of the law. Here are a couple of the latest scams:

Suspect ATMs. If you need cash for a visit to a ballpark, concert or festival this summer, you may want to swing by your bank first rather than withdraw money from an unattended ATM at the event. If you do use one, look for skimming devices on the card-insertion slot. Skimming fraud, in which crooks grab your debit card information by installing stealth devices on ATMs, has reached an all-time high, rising 546% from 2014 to 2015, according to FICO Card Alert Service. Most vulnerable are nonbank ATMs, which accounted for 60% of compromises.

Disappearing down payments. Some consumers are showing up to close on a home purchase only to discover that their down payment is lost in the ether, warn the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors. Scammers hack into the e-mail accounts of real estate and title agents and send buyers instructions to wire funds to an alternate account. Before you respond to a credible-looking e-mail with wiring instructions, call your contact at a verifiable phone number to confirm.

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