Updates from October, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , unclaimed funds, unclaimed money   

    Do you really have unclaimed money? 

    Do you really have unclaimed money?

    Occasionally, you might read or hear a news report stating that you should check with your state’s government to see if you have unclaimed funds. For whatever reason, you may have some money owed to you by the state. Sometimes it may be a bank account that you’ve forgotten about or it may be a small inheritance that you were totally unaware of. For some of us, it’s the dream to find out that we’re due an unexpected windfall to possibly help us out of our current financial situations. As usual, there are people looking to take advantage of that dream.

    Once again the Better Business Bureau has been receiving complaints about a scam promising unclaimed funds to its victims. It starts out like most scams. You’ll receive some kind of call, mailer, email, or social media message telling you that you have some kind of unclaimed money due to you. All you have to do is call this number and hand over all your personal information in the guise of ‘identity confirmation’. You’ll also be told that you only have a few days to claim your money. However, this is all a plot to steal your personal information for identity theft. That’s not to say that funds can’t be claimed.

    You can check with local or state governments to see if there are unclaimed funds in your name. These services are free so don’t pay any money to services who try to charge you. A good resource to use on how to check for unclaimed funds is the USA.gov website. Good luck on your hunt but don’t be taken in by those who would give you false promises.

     
  • Geebo 8:04 am on October 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    Smart home camera hacked in baby’s room 

    Smart home camera hacked in baby's room

    A California CEO has written a column for The Mercury News where he relays the tale about how his smart home camera system was hacked. It is quite a rather harrowing tale as the digital vandals used the speaker on the camera in the baby’s room to harass the family’s nanny. The anonymous voice on the other end of the camera was using profanity and even threatened to come take the baby at one point. It wasn’t until all the cameras were disconnected did the harassment stop. The father later found out that this is a fairly common occurrence with internet-connected cameras, specifically the brand that he was using.

    The father then tried contacting the technical support arm of the corporation that manufactures the cameras and was on hold for over an hour. He also received emails that continued to push the idea of two-factor authentication to keep out would-be pranksters. The father was not satisfied with this response and has vowed not to use this brand of camera ever again. His outrage can be understood especially for parents with young children because you can never truly know who is watching your home while you’re unaware. A more sophisticated criminal could use such information gleaned from home cameras to tell when a home may be vulnerable to being robbed.

    While the camera maker’s customer service may sound a little tone-deaf as far as the father’s mistrust is concerned, their advice about two-factor authentication is not wrong. 2FA, as it’s known, can go a long way in preventing these cameras from being hijacked. Also if you use the same password across multiple services you could be compromising your security greatly by making it easy for hackers to gain access to your devices. In this case, you may want to try some of the more reliable password managers out there. As we have said before, if you don’t take your internet security more seriously, it’s like having the most expensive lock that you just leave the key in.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: snow, , utility scam,   

    Con men use snowfall to try to fleece victims 

    Con men use snowfall to try to fleece victims

    Scammers are notorious for trying to take advantage of people after a natural disaster. One of the more common times this happens in the US is right after a hurricane. There are so many hurricane-related scams that they are almost a state of emergency themselves. But did you know scammers can use even seasonal weather occurrences to try and take money from unsuspecting victims? They do as one city in the Pacific Northwest recently found out.

    Recently, many western parts of the United States experienced an early snowfall. Some areas received just a light dusting while others experienced up to a foot of snow. Spokane, Washington got hit pretty good by the snow leading to many downed tree branches which can cause headaches for the city’s electrical infrastructure. Loss of power could mean loss of heat as well for many households. Scammers took advantage of this anxiety by posing as the local power company and calling residents to tell them that their power was in danger of being shut off if they did not pay a fee. One person who received one of these calls didn’t believe the call was legitimate and said that she was refusing to pay. She was then transferred to another person who claimed to be a manager.

    The power company in Spokane said that they always send out paper notices through the mail before terminating someone’s service. That probably goes for most utility providers as well. If you receive a call like this no matter where you live, hang up and call your local utility company to make sure that your account is actually in good standing. And while it’s not mentioned in this particualr story, never make any payments over the phone using any kind of gift card as this is almost guaranteed to be part of a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , medicare, open enrollment,   

    Medicare fraudsters target seniors during Open Enrollment 

    Medicare fraudsters target seniors during Open Enrollment

    The Open Enrollment period for Medicare subscribers just opened. This is the time of year where Medicare recipients select their health insurance plans for the next benefit year. This process can be extremely stressful and confusing even for insurance industry veterans. With so many options to choose from and so many changes made each year, it can be difficult for seniors to keep up with all the necessary policies and paperwork each year. So it should come as no surprise that fraudsters will be plentiful during the Open Enrollment period.

    Once again the Better Business Bureau is warning Medicare recipients of the various scams that go around this time of year. One of these scams takes the form of receiving a phone call offering you a free back or knee brace, except you’ll have to give up a lot of personal information to receive the item. Another common scam is someone calling you and asking for your Medicare number then telling you that there is a problem with your benefits or some form of fraud has been committed with your coverage. Either way, the scammers will try to tell you that you’re in danger of losing your benefits. The calls can even appear as they’re coming from Medicare’s official phone number.

    Your Medicare plan will only call you if you’re already a member of that plan. If you feel uncomfortable taking the call, you can always call your insurance company’s customer service number back. As a general rule of thumb, you should never give your Medicare or Social Security number to anyone over the phone. Medicare and your insurance company already have your information and don’t need you to repeat it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Potential modeling scam poses threat 

    Potential modeling scam poses threat

    The modeling scam isn’t one we discuss often but it can have potentially devastating effects. The damage can range anywhere from simply being swindled out of a substantial amount of money to becoming the victim of an online predator. Modeling can artists like to prey upon the insecurities of their victims and promise them lives of luxury and fame even though the odds of becoming a legitimately successful model are about the same as someone becoming a successful professional athlete. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped victims from being scammed and the swindlers are always looking for new ways to find more victims.

    For example, recently in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina, a number of women were sent text messages asking them if they wanted to be models for Victoria’s Secret. The texter was reportedly posing as a former model and asked the women for photos, personal information, and possibly a meeting. Authorities in the area believe this could potentially be a plot to recruit victims for human trafficking. Usually, human traffickers rely on social media to try to recruit victims instead of text messaging. However, the women that were texted in Myrtle Beach are all public figures in their profession and their numbers could have been obtained in any number of ways.

    If you are thinking about getting into the modeling industry, have realistic expectations and do your research on the pitfalls it entails. What may sound like a great job could be any number of ways you can put yourself in danger. While you may be able to find one or two legitimate modeling jobs online, for the most part, legitimate modeling jobs are done through modeling agencies. The Federal Trade Commission has a website on how to tell if a modeling job is legitimate or if you’re dealing with shady charlatans.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sim jacking, sim swapping,   

    SIM Swapping can cost you thousands if you’re not careful 

    SIM Swapping can cost you thousands if you're not careful

    Freelance British food writer Jack Monroe recently made news when she found out that someone stole the phone number to her smartphone. They were then able to transfer the number to another phone where they had access to some of her financial information and were able to steal £5,000 from her personal account. That amount equates to close to $6,300 in the U.S. This is a trick known as SIM_Swapping or SIM-Jacking named after the SIM cards in most smartphones that contain your calling information including your phone number. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to protect yourself against the attack.

    SIM Swapping works when the victim is targeted by someone with knowledge of how the attack works. First, they get your name, address, and date of birth, then they contact your cell phone carrier to try and convince them that they are you. If the attacker is successful, he can get the carrier to switch your number to their phone. The attacker can then receive all your calls, texts, emails and the like. That way they can receive the two-factor authentication texts that would allow them to access any of your sensitive online accounts including banking.

    While most victims of SIM Swapping don’t notice the attack until it’s too late, there are some steps you can take to try to protect yourself although nothing is a guarantee of preventing such an attack. You can instruct your cell phone carrier to require a PIN number if anyone calls to try and have any portion of your service changed. As with most PINs, don’t make it something obvious that an attacker can guess like your birthdate. You can also sign up for a Google Voice number which is much more secure and tougher to attack than a traditional cell phone number but work just like a traditional phone number and they are also free to get.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    BBB scam stats that may surprise you! 

    BBB scam stats that may surprise you!

    The Better Business Bureau recently released some statistics about scams in this country. While some of them may seem obvious there are some that come as a surprise even to us. The BBB recently issued a report called “Exposed to Scams: What separates victims from non-victims” that you can read at this link, however, it is in PDF form. The BBB surveyed 1400 people who filed reports about scams to them. Out of those 1400 people, 43% did not engage with the scammers. 30% engaged with the scammer but did not lose money. 23% engaged with the scammer and lost money.

    The most common scams were said to be the tech support scam, followed closely by tax collection scams, and online purchase scams. The median amount lost in scams was $600 which is up from $152 in 2018. What also is telling is that out of 91% of people who were approached by scammers on social media, 53% of them lost money. Respondents also include in their survey that people who sounded more official were more likely to con victims out of their money. However, the surprising statistic to come out of this report is that younger people are more vulnerable to scammers than the elderly even though the elderly have long been the targets of many scammers.

    Once you’ve been scammed, it becomes easier to spot a scam when it approaches you. However, you don’t have to be a victim first in order to avoid a scam. There are lots of great resources online that can educate about what scams are new or resurfacing. For one there’s our blog here at Geebo, as we like to keep up to date on the latest scams and when the older one appears with new twists. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website listing a number of current scams. And as always, the Better Business Bureau has its famous BBB Scam Tracker.

    As the saying goes, knowledge is power. And we want you to have the power to stop these con artists from making victims out of consumers.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Be careful of random packages at your doorstep 

    Be careful of random packages at your doorstep

    Today, we’re bringing you a handful of scams from around the country. Remember, just because they may not be happening in your town doesn’t mean they can’t.

    Our first story is out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where unrequested packages have been showing up at random homes. Scammers are allegedly using stolen information to have high-end items like smartphones sent to random houses. The scammers then keep an eye on the homes where the items are to be delivered so they can pick them up. While this was a good attempt by the scammers to cover their tracks, two men have been arrested for their alleged part in the scheme. A good way to help protect yourself against this is to sign up for the US Postal Service’s Informed Delivery service.

    Speaking of unwanted packages, we’ve discussed the brushing scam before. It’s where you’ll receive a number of packages from a retailer like Amazon that you didn’t order. By law, you can keep those packages, however, they’re being sent by third-party vendors from overseas who are looking to use your information to post positive reviews of their products with your name listed as a verified purchaser. It’s gotten so bad for one man in Charlotte, North Carolinas that he says he’s been receiving nearly 30 packages a week since July. If this happens to you, your amazon account may have been compromised. It’s recommended that in this case that you change your Amazon password and check your account for illegitimate purchases.

    Lastly, the state of Texas is warning its residents about a potential insurance scam. The Texas Department of Insurance is reporting that a group claiming to be the Consumer Insurance Association is offering discounted insurance rates over the phone. This group is not licensed in the state of Texas and could be part of an identity theft operation. Never just give out your personal information over the phone to anybody who cold calls you. If you feel like they may be a legitimate company, research them first before divulging any sensitive information.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FTC, , Match.com, ,   

    Dating site sued over romance scams 

    Dating site sued over romance scams

    We’ve talked about romance scams a lot lately. We’ve mostly discussed how to recognize a romance scam and how just about anyone can find themselves as a victim in one. We’ve even touched on the legal ramifications romance scams could have for both perpetrators and victims. What we haven’t talked about is what the law is doing to try and prevent these scams outside of arresting a handful of scammers. Now, the Federal Trade Commission seems to be getting serious about them by going after one of the major platforms where romance scammers find their victims.

    Dating sites are one of the biggest online services where romance scammers troll for their victims. One of the biggest dating platforms online is Match.com. The FTC is suing Match over alleged dubious business practices that have allowed romance scams to flourish on Match. The FTC says that Match is aware that close to a quarter of all Match profiles may be fraudulent with many of them allegedly being used to run romance scams. The FTC claims that not only did Match know these profiles were fraudulent but left the profiles on their platform to attract other users to their service. Match is a paid subscription service and you can’t communicate with other members without signing up for a subscription.

    Of course, Match has denied the allegations. They had a chance to settle with the FTC a while ago for $30 million and a chance to clean up their act but Match rejected the offer. The problem with dating sites and apps whether they’re free or paid is that they’re filled with fake profiles. Whether it’s to attract new users or the users are actively trying to catfish the new members, online dating services are rife with con artists and frauds. Loneliness can be a heavy cross to bear and it can impair your judgment when it comes to accepting a new romantic interest into your life. While the heart wants what it wants, you should also listen to your gut. Once again, the FTC has a website about how to recognize a potential romance scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    Twitter leaks phone numbers to advertisers 

    Twitter leaks phone numbers to advertisers

    We’ve mentioned two-factor authentication, or 2FA as it’s known, a few times lately. It’s the security protocol that has two or more layers of authentication that better secures your online accounts. The most common form of 2FA is through text messaging. For example, if you have 2FA enabled, when you sign in to an online account not only would you have to provide your password but you’d also have to provide a code that had been texted to you. While authentication sent through SMS texts isn’t the most secure form of 2FA it is better than nothing. However, thanks to so many platforms using SMS texting for 2FA it has led one platform to issue an apology recently.

    Twitter recently announced phone numbers that users had registered with them for two-factor authentication were used for targeted advertising. The numbers were used to match users to marketing lists provided by advertisers. In some people’s eyes, that goes against everything that 2FA is supposed to stand for. One security expert even compared Twitter’s practice to that of trying to secure a tent against bears by using raw meat.

    Like we said, While SMS text messages are the most common form of 2FA, they’re not the most secure. There are alternatives that you can use that are more secure. There are hardware keys that act as authenticators that can be used on both computers and mobile devices. There are also software alternatives that are free, that create something along the lines of a temporary secondary password that can be used for the second layer of authentication. This way, you won’t have to worry about even more robocalls from advertisers and other bad actors from plaguing your phone.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel