What You Need to Know About AI Scams

Victim of an AI scam on phone

Introduction to AI Scams

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors, including finance, healthcare, and entertainment. However, as AI technology advances, it also presents new opportunities for scammers to exploit unsuspecting individuals. AI scams are deceptive practices that use emerging AI technologies to trick people. Frequently the goal is to manipulate people into divulging personal information, compromising account information, or sending money to the scammer. Understanding how these scams work and recognizing their common forms can help protect you and your loved ones from becoming victims, so this guide will provide essential information on AI scams, how they operate, and what you can do to safeguard yourself.


How Scammers Use AI to Power Their Scams

AI scams leverage new and advanced technologies such as machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing to create convincing and sophisticated fraudulent schemes. Here’s a breakdown of how these scams typically operate:

  1. Data Harvesting: Scammers use automated software (sometimes but not necessarily AI software) to gather personal information from social media profiles, public records, and data breaches. This data is used to identify targets and make their scams more believable to the victim.
  2. Deepfakes: AI algorithms can create highly realistic audio, video, or images that mimic real people. These so-called deepfakes can be used to impersonate family members, friends, or other trusted individuals or organizations.
  3. Voice Cloning: Scammers use AI to clone a person’s voice based on audio samples found online. They can then call victims who know the person being ‘cloned’ to request money or sensitive information.
  4. Automated Phishing: AI tools can craft highly personalized phishing emails that are more convincing than standard phishing emails. 
  5. Chatbots: AI-powered chatbots can sound very genuine and engage in real-time conversations with potential victims.


What These Scams Look Like

AI scams take on various forms, each crafted to deceive victims through sophisticated technology. Understanding what these scams look like can help you recognize and avoid them:


Recognizing AI Voice Scams

AI voice scams, also known as voice phishing or vishing, involve the use of AI-generated voices to manipulate you or even impersonate trusted individuals. These scams can be particularly convincing and emotionally manipulative. Here’s how to recognize them:

  1. Unexpected Calls: Be wary of calls from voices claiming to be family members, friends, or officials if they request money or personal information urgently, even if they do sound like that family member.
  2. Emotional Manipulation: Scammers often create a sense of urgency or fear to prompt immediate action. They frequently claim there’s an emergency, like a loved one in trouble.
  3. Requests for Personally Identifiable Information (PII): Legitimate entities rarely ask for sensitive information over the phone. If a caller asks for passwords, Social Security numbers, or bank details, it’s likely a scam.
  4. Voice Quality: While AI voices can be highly realistic, there might be subtle differences in tone, pauses before responses or cadence. If you notice these, be suspicious.
  5. Call Them Back: If you receive a suspicious call, tell them you will have to call them back, regardless of the urgency of the situation they portray. Use the official contact information you have, and not any contact information provided by the caller, to verify their identity.

If you suspect you’re being targeted by an AI voice scam, hang up immediately and report the incident to Latitude 32 Credit Union.


Spotting Fake Images and Videos

AI-generated fake images and videos, often referred to as deepfakes, are becoming increasingly sophisticated and more and more difficult to detect. These deepfakes can be used in scams, blackmail, and fraud. These deepfakes are becoming more convincing, but they are not perfect. Aside from keeping your guard up regarding any and all requests for personal information, there are several ways to spot these fakes:

  1. Inconsistencies in Details: Look for inconsistencies in lighting, shadows, and reflections. AI-generated images often struggle to maintain consistent lighting across different parts of the image.
  2. Unnatural Movements: In videos, pay attention to the way people move. Deepfake videos can have unnatural movements or a lack of movement, particularly in the face and eyes.
  3. Bodily Distortions: AI-generated images and video frequently struggle to accurately portray hands and can also cause other body parts to change in impossible ways.
  4. Audio-Visual Mismatch: In videos, the audio may not perfectly sync with the speaker’s lip movements, or the voice might sound slightly off. This is not conclusive but it’s a good reason to be suspicious.

By being aware of these signs, you can better protect yourself from being deceived by AI-generated images and videos.


Email and Text Scams Using AI

AI technology has made it easier for scammers to create convincing phishing emails and text messages designed to trick recipients into sharing personal information or clicking on malicious links. Here’s how these scams typically work:

Scammers use AI to scan publicly available data, such as social media profiles and online postings, to gather information about their targets. This data is then used to craft highly personalized messages that appear to come from trusted sources. For example, an email might look like it’s from your bank, complete with logos and formatting that match legitimate communications.


Protecting Yourself from AI Scams

Protecting yourself from AI scams involves a combination of vigilance, skepticism, and proactive measures. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest AI scam tactics. Knowledge is your first line of defense.
  2. Verify Identities: Always verify the identity of the person or organization contacting you. Feel free to hang up and call or email back using official channels to confirm requests for information or money.
  3. Secure Your Accounts: Use strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible.
  4. Monitor Your Financial Statements: Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions.
  5. Limit Sharing Personal Information: Be cautious about the amount of personal information you share online, especially on social media platforms.


What to Do If You Fall Victim

If you suspect that you have fallen victim to an AI scam, it is crucial to act quickly to mitigate any potential damage. Here are the steps you should take:

  1. Contact Your Financial Institution: Immediately inform Latitude 32 Credit Union about the scam. We can help you secure your accounts and monitor for suspicious activity.
  2. Change Your Passwords: Update your passwords for any compromised accounts. Ensure you use strong, unique passwords for each account.
  3. Report to Authorities: File a report with your local police and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This helps authorities track scam trends and prevent further incidents.
  4. Monitor Your Credit: Keep an eye on your credit reports for any signs of identity theft. Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit files.
  5. Inform Others: Share your experience with friends and family to help them avoid falling victim to similar scams.


How Latitude 32 Credit Union Can Help

If you suspect fraudulent activity or have questions about protecting your financial information, contact Latitude 32 Credit Union immediately. Our dedicated team is here to help you navigate any concerns and ensure your peace of mind. Together, we can create a safer financial environment for everyone.