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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church, dmv, , ,   

    Even your church can be scammed! 

    Even your church can be scammed!

    Once again, we’re here to bring you the latest in scams that you should look out for.

    This week, we start off with a scam that has affected a number of churches in America. The latest area to be hit with this scam is Fargo, North Dakota where parishioners have been receiving messages claiming to be their local priest. The messages sent through an app designed to inform churchgoers of church news has been hijacked and is asking for donations to be made through gift cards. Any kind of transaction asked to be made through gift cards are usually a scam as the gift cards can be virtually untraceable.

    Our next scam is another romance scam that cast a very wide net. According to the Des Moines Register, someone took out a print ad with their paper claiming to be a 57-year-old man looking for someone to marry. However, the same as has appeared in several other newspapers across the country. As with most romance scams, this ad was more than likely placed with the hope of trying to con money out of a vulnerable victim. The Register pulled the ad after they investigated the source of the ad.

    Lastly, in North Carolina, the State Attorney General is warning people there not to fall for phony DMV sites. He says that there are websites popping up that mimic the DMV’s official website. These sites could either be offering services for a fee that the DMV does for free or they could be trying to steal your personal information. You should always use your state’s official DMV website which usually has a ‘.gov’ address.

     
  • Geebo 8:02 am on May 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Has your Airbnb account been hacked? 

    Has you Airbnb account been hacked?

    A new scam has been targeting users of the online rental service Airbnb. Some users of the platform have reported having their accounts hijacked and then had phony reservations made in their name. Their money is then taken from their bank or PayPal account before the non-refundable reservation is canceled. The scammers will then change your phone number and login credentials on your Airbnb accounts so you can’t contact Airbnb to get a refund.

    Airbnb says that these have been isolated incidents and are working with affected users. However, many users have complained that once their accounts are hacked it’s been difficult to get in touch with Airbnb’s customer service. Users are also expressing concerns that Airbnb is not informing their users about the recent hacks.

    Reports state that the accounts are being hijacked through phishing attacks. That means the scammers are sending out emails that look like they’re from Airbnb and are trying to get consumers to give up their log in information. To better protect yourself, never click on links from suspicious emails. These emails may come from such email addresses as “airbnb-bookings.com” or “Airbnb1.com.” Official emails from Airbnb will only be addressed from Airbnb.com.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , teachers   

    Should teachers have to pay for their own substitutes when sick? 

    Should teachers have to pay for their own substitutes when sick?

    The one profession that is probably the most underpaid but most needed is a school teacher. In a state like California that is possibly the richest state in the country, you might think that teachers are paid a fair wage and have a decent benefits package. As one story has shown us recently that may not be the case. A San Francisco teacher who is currently undergoing cancer treatment has to pay for her substitute out of her own paycheck. Sadly, this is not some rare exception for California teachers as it’s been this way since the ’70s.

    The teacher in question has half of her paycheck deducted each pay period to pay for her temporary replacement while she undergoes treatment. Public school teachers in California don’t pay into the state disability insurance program and can’t draw benefits from it. The teachers only get 10 sick days a year and 100 extended days of sick leave. It’s during these sick leaves when they have to pay for a substitute teacher out of their own pockets.

    In many instances, teachers on extended leave are more concerned with getting better than fighting this drastic cut in pay. However, many teachers return to work too soon in order to try to provide for their families. No family should have to worry about losing their home or worse when trying to recover from a major illness. Is it time that we not only rethought how we treated our teachers but the whole healthcare paradigm as well?

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , China, ,   

    Has Huawei been cut off by Google? 

    Has Huawei been cut off by Google?

    Last week, president Trump issued an executive order that claims foreign threats to communication networks are a national emergency. This order makes it extremely difficult for communication companies from China from doing business in the US. The Trump administration added Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei to a sort of blacklist that makes it almost impossible for the Chinese firm from purchasing hardware and software in the US that’s needed to make their devices.

    In order to comply with the executive order, Google has suspended any business with Huawei. This means that in the immediate future, Huawei will not be able to use the Google-supported Android OS On any of their new devices. Huawei could use the open source version of Android, however, this would not include any technical support from Google or any Google apps such as Gmail or the Google Play Store. Huawei claims that they have made preparations for such an event but without support for Google apps sales outside of China could badly impact the world’s 2nd largest smartphone manufacturer.

    Consumers in the US who may currently own a Huawei phone could see their devices no longer receiving security updates from Google. However, it is believed that apps like Gmail and YouTube will continue to be supported on already existing on current Huawei devices. The Trump Administration believes that Huawei is allegedly committing espionage for the Chinese government even though there has been no concrete evidence to prove such an allegation.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , virtual kidnapping   

    What to do when a kidnapper calls! 

    What to do when a kidnapper calls!

    We’ve all seen it in movies or on TV. You receive a phone call from a stranger telling you that a family member has been kidnapped. You’re instructed not to call the police and you have to take a briefcase full of cash to a seedy part of town to make the exchange. In reality, kidnappings for ransom are extremely rare. However, that hasn’t stopped high tech scammers from fleecing victims of their money in what’s being called virtual kidnappings.

    The virtual kidnapping scam works by the scammer calling their victims using a spoofed number to make it look like they’re calling from a relative’s phone. They’ll claim to be kidnappers and that they have taken your relative hostage. They’ll instruct you to not call the police and then have you send them money either by making you buy pre-paid debit cards and giving them the card’s numbers or by having you wire the money somewhere. By the time the ordeal is over, you find out that your relative was never in any danger but the scammers have made off with your money and are virtually untraceable.

    So what should you do if you receive one of these phone calls? Most experts agree that you should hang up immediately and call the police. If you do actually speak on one of these phone calls never give out any personal information especially the name of your relative that they’ve claimed to kidnap. If there’s another avenue of communication available, like another phone, call the loved one in question to make sure they’re ok. The FBI contends that these virtual kidnappings will only become more frequent over time so being prepared will allow you to better recognize one of these calls.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , pharmaceutical companies, , price fixing   

    Are you being gouged for your medicine? 

    Are you being gouged for your medicine?

    Healthcare costs in this country continue to skyrocket and are out of reach of the many Americans who desperately need it. Whether it’s because of the states that refuse to expand their Medicaid programs or the fact that employers aren’t offering affordable healthcare coverage, many Americans are either uninsured or underinsured. It also doesn’t help that many pharmaceutical companies continue to put profits over patients’ needs. The most famous cases of this was by Martin Shkreli, aka the ‘Pharma Bro’ when he raised the price of a drug used to treat HIV patients from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill. While Shkrelli is currently serving time for fraud it seems that other companies are following his strategy.

    44 State Attorneys General are suing a number of generic drug manufacturers for allegedly colluding to keep their prices higher than they should be. The suit alleges that the manufacturers of a “broad conspiracy” to inflate and manipulate prices of more than 100 commonly prescribed generic drugs. Normally, when a patent expires on a brand name drug, it allows other drug manufacturers to make the exact same drug for cheaper.

    Many of the drugs the Attorneys General accuse the drug companies of overinflating the price include simple things like antibiotics to life and death drugs like those for diabetes, cancer, MS, and HIV. The increased pricing not only puts a strain on the patients who require these drugs but also on health carriers, Medicare and Medicaid. The pharmaceutical companies accused of the price-fixing claim that the drugs that have increased in price are just a minority among the thousands of generics that are made today.

    Do you take a generic medication on a regular basis? If so, have you seen the price jump dramatically in the past few years? If so, please leave a comment below.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , voicemail   

    This voicemail should go unanswered! 

    This voicemail should go unanswered

    The Better Business Bureau is warning about a new scam that has taken the internet by storm. It’s a version of the phishing attack with a new twist. Normally in phishing attacks, you’ll be sent an email that looks like it came from a legitimate business or contact where they’ll ask you to either click on a link or enter some information. These attacks are designed to either get your personal information or install malware on your computer. Now, according to the BBB, scammers have added a new wrinkle to this attack.

    In the new attack, the scammers will send an email that claims to be from Office 365 or some other business software telling you that you have a new voicemail message. The email will even tell you that the message is from a trusted source. Then the email will provide you a link to click on to listen to the voicemail but instead will try the aforementioned tactics of either trying to steal your information or inject malware on to your device.

    In order to avoid phishing attacks like this, you should never click on unsolicited links especially if you’ve never opted in for receiving these kinds of alerts. Never log into any of your accounts through an email link, instead log in directly from the main page or app for your account. And if you’ve been a victim of one of these scams you can report it to the BBB.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Flexa, , SPEDN   

    Is cryptocurrency ready for retail? 

    Is cryptocurrency ready for retail?

    Even with its volatile fluctuations in value, it seems that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are here to stay. It seems that cryptocurrency is no longer just the method of transaction on the dark web as it continues to gain more mainstream acceptance. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have long dreamed of a day where they can use their Bitcoins or any other number of cryptocurrencies, to purchase everyday items such as their morning coffee or a pizza. That dream is now becoming a little bit closer to reality.

    15 retailers in America have signed up for an app called SPEDN that is said to allow users to spend their cryptocurrency in brick and mortar stores. Some of the retailers that will begin accepting cryptocurrency are Bed Bath and Beyond, Ulta, Barnes & Noble, Baskin Robbins, Crate & Barrel, Express, GameStop, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, and Regal Cinemas. SPEDN is attached to the Flexa global payments network.

    However, what remains to be seen is how these retailers will be able to keep their cryptocurrency stockpile secure. Retailers are not the most secure companies as a number of them have been subject to massive data breaches that exposed customers’ information. Since cryptocurrency has been known to be stolen through nefarious electronic means will consumers turn against cryptocurrency once a large amount of it has been stolen from one of these retailers? While a good idea in concept maybe cryptocurrency isn’t ready for retail just yet until the security aspect of it can be addressed.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ADT, ,   

    Scam stats that will blow you away! 

    Scam stats from an expert

    When it comes to scams we’re pretty good in explaining how they work and how to avoid them. However, when it comes to organizing the facts and figures behind them it seems like no one has ADT beat. The home security leader has an extensive write-up about almost every scam that is affecting American citizens today. Utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker ADT has compiled an almost exhaustive compendium about all the scams affecting us today from the most common to the absolutely rare.

    For example, the most common scam in the US is phishing attacks. These are the emails that are designed to get some kind of personal information out of you or infect your device with malware by disguising themselves as legitimate emails. This makes sense since phishers have to send out millions of emails just to try to hook a handful of victims. Rounding out the top 5 of common scams are tax collection scams, online purchase scams, employment scams, and debt collection scams.

    The scams that cost victims the most money are investment scams costing victims on average close to $9,000. The most infamous type of investment scams are Ponzi and pyramid schemes. The second most costly scam per victim is the romance scam which we just recently discussed here. The romance scam has cost victims roughly $6,000 each but as we’ve discussed previously, some victims have lost upwards of thousands of dollars to a million.

    Scams also have geographic targets as Alaska is said to be the state hit hardest by scammers while North Carolina has escaped relatively unscathed. Alaskans reportedly lose twice as much money to scams than the next state in the most scammed list being Hawaii.

    Being armed with all the information that ADT has kindly provide us should allow you to be better prepared to when it comes to recognizing a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    How do you stop a romance scam? 

    How do you stop a romance scam?

    We’ve talked about a lot of scams over the past few years, however, one that we barely touched on is the romance scam. The romance scam is exactly what it sounds like. A scammer will pose as a variety of people claiming to be looking for a relationship. They’ll pose as men and women on dating sites as well as social media. The scammers will use any and all information that you’ve shared on your profiles in order to lull you into a false sense of security before hitting you with a request for money. We’re not talking small amounts either. Some victims have lost anywhere from thousands to over a million dollars. It’s unknown how many victims of this scam there truly are since many of them are too embarrassed to come forward.

    One family from the Midwest is said to be currently living this nightmare as a member of their family reportedly does not believe it’s a scam and continues to send money to someone claiming to be a woman from overseas. Even after being confronted by his family the man refused to stop communicating with the woman and is said to have sent $34,000 to the supposed woman. Unfortunately, the family is helpless to do anything since the man won’t go to the authorities himself.

    So what happens when a victim runs out of money? They can become unwitting pawns in a money laundering scheme. The scammer will then claim to be paying them back and send the victims phony checks. This is when the old phony check scam kicks in. The victim will be asked to cash the phony check and send a portion of it to a third party. The FBI has the following tips on how to avoid being a victim.

    • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
    • Go slow and ask lots of questions.
    • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
    • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
    • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t.
    • If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
      Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally. “If you don’t know them, don’t send money,”

    If you’ve been the victim of a romance scam you can contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at their website.

     
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