Fake Taylor Swift tickets, student loan forgiveness: 4 top scams that targeted consumers this summer


Taylor Swift performs onstage during “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” at SoFi Stadium on August 09, 2023 in Inglewood, California.

Kevin Winter/tas23 | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

To quote Taylor Swift, “It’s a cruel summer” — especially for some consumers falling prey to common scams.

Swift fans eager to buy tickets may have found they were duped. Vacationers who were looking for rental properties may have been disappointed to find that they weren’t legitimate. And borrowers hoping for student loan relief may have fallen prey to scams after the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s broad federal student loan forgiveness plan.

Those are among the top schemes Visa has seen this summer as it works to monitor fraud, according to Paul Fabara, the company’s chief risk officer.

“A lot of it is related with the consumer trusting too much and not paying attention to what they’re clicking or saying yes to,” Fabara said.

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Visa has invested more than $10 billion in the past five years to thwart scams and employs about 1,000 professionals to monitor financial transaction risks.

“We have the opportunity to see what exactly is happening across the entire payment ecosystem,” while Visa’s algorithms can identify fraud by type, Fabara said.

Here are four of the prevalent schemes that have emerged this summer.

1. Concert and event tickets scams

Fans wanted to see the big-ticket acts, such as Beyonce and Taylor Swift on tour this summer. Some fraudsters launched their own ticket sales sites with URLs appearing just hours before the event. They claimed creative reasons for why they had a surplus. Others may have posed as sellers, and managed to offer tickets on bona-fide ticket platforms.

“That is where they strike big,” Fabara said. Consumers feel the urgency just a few hours prior to the concert. “

The scams are so prevalent that officials such as California Attorney General Rob Bonta have issued warnings to consumers.

2. Vacation lodging scams

Vacationers who sought rentals or other services in popular destinations may have found themselves prey to fake listings. Visa reports that some scammers even forged company logos in order to appear as legitimate vacation rental sites. Fabara said that the scammers can use profiles to create listings which combine the attributes of real people. This makes them appear more credible when they are in the public domain. Apartment rental scams

College student looking for off-campus accommodation may fall victim to fake listings. More broadly, as rents have soared in some markets, apartment seekers hoping to find a deal may have found themselves susceptible to dupes.

Scammers are hoping apartment hunters will send money for application fees or a security deposit before they realize the listing isn’t legit.

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Federal Trade Commission secured $1.6 million from online apartment search platform Roomster and its owners for defrauding millions of U.S. consumers with unverified apartment listings and fake reviews. New York is one of six states that are suing Roomster along with the FTC. Roomster did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Looking for an apartment can be stressful, and the last thing renters need is to be scammed by fake reviews and apartments that might not even exist,” James said in a statement.

4. Scammers often target debtors who are looking for an easy way out. Often, scammers are fishing for personal details they can use to steal your identity.

While getting help from a private, unaffiliated debt relief company may not necessarily lead to fraud, “seeking out unverified services is a common path to a student loan forgiveness scam,” the Federal Student Aid Office has warned.

Common warning signs include aggressive advertising language, big promises and requests for log-in or other confidential personal information.

How to protect yourself from fraud

Tashdique Mehtaj Ahmed | Moment | Getty Images

While the summertime schemes have put consumers at risk, there are themes that should be on their radars throughout the year, according to Fabara.

For example, the holiday season tends to coincide with an uptick in e-commerce schemes, while tax season tends to prompt false promises of outsize refunds from organizations that promise to file your taxes on your behalf.

“A lot of it is common sense,” Fabara said of consumer fraud prevention.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Keep your personal information to yourself. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Keep your personal information to yourself. Avoid clicking on unverified hyperlinks. Some bad actors will use the names of legitimate businesses to redirect you to websites that have nothing to do with them. Before entering any personal data, verify that the website is legit. Better yet, avoid clicking on potentially suspicious links on social media and in emails and text messages.

Watch for AI/deep fake imitations.

Fraudsters can use AI to create fakes that appear as if reputable public figures are endorsing a company’s product or service on social media. Fabara says that you might be fooled into believing it is a genuine endorsement. However, this is not true. Sources such as the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission provide information about businesses and whether they have received complaints from consumers. Fabara advises consumers to perform research to confirm that the key details of properties are correct when looking for real estate deals. Verify that the property is listed on real estate sites as being available and is not otherwise occupied. Set up real-time alerts for purchases. Fabara says that by monitoring your account in real-time, you will be able to detect any fraudulent activity more quickly. If you notice suspicious activity, alert your financial institution. Fabara said that while consumers tend to think of fraud as involving large purchases, it often begins with smaller transactions as low as $1. You can save yourself from further problems by alerting your financial institution or credit card company about any unknown transaction, no matter how small.