Updates from December, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , check washing, ,   

    Don’t leave your outgoing bills in your mailbox 

    Don't leave your outgoing bills in your mailbox

    When we talk about scams, we mostly warn our readers about online or phone scams. The reason these scams are so prolific is that everyone has a smartphone and a lot of people use weak passwords on their accounts. However, that doesn’t mean that analog scams have disappeared. One such scam recently turned up in reports that use one of the oldest forms of communication in the US to find victims, good old fashioned snail mail. We all know that tampering with someone’s postal mail is a federal offense, but it hasn’t stopped some scammers from taking that risk.

    A couple in Alabama recently found that someone had accessed their bank account and several unauthorized payments were made from their account. They weren’t the victims of any kind of electronic fraud. Instead, someone had stolen their outgoing mail from their mailbox. In that mail were a few bills that they were paying by check. The scammers are then said to have committed what is known as check washing. Check washing is when someone dips an already written or even canceled check in chemicals and removes the handwritten ink from the check. They then put in whatever information on the check that they need. As long as there is enough money in the account the check can be cashed.

    There are ways to prevent check washing from happening. The first is to switch to electronic payments to pay your bills. However, if for whatever reason you have to write checks, there are special pens that you can buy that are resistant to check washing. Instead of leaving outgoing mail in your home mailbox, you may want to take it to the post office instead so you know it gets into the hands of the US Postal Service.

    With a number of relatives writing checks to send as Christmas gifts, this time of year could be especially bad for stolen checks. If you have an older relative that may not be able to get to the post office, offer to take their bills to the post office for them. It’s a little inconvenience for peace of mind.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , terrorism   

    The FTC doesn’t really think you’re a terrorist 

    The FTC doesn't really think you're a terrorist

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one of the government organizations that try to protect consumers from scams. So, it’s kind of ironic that the scammers are posing as the FTC to commit one of the more disturbing scams to date. It’s a variation of the law enforcement impersonation scam. In that scam, the scammers will call you and claim to be calling from local or federal law enforcement. They’ll then tell you that they’ve found suspicious criminal activity has been connected to your financial accounts but you can pay money to make the charges go away. However, this new scam takes it one step further to scare the victim into paying.

    The FTC is warning the public that some people have received letters on official-looking FTC letterhead. The letters say that your financial account information has been linked to terrorist activity and money laundering. The letter will then be followed up with a phone call with scammers asking for money to resolve the phony issue. While the FTC hasn’t commented on this part of the scam, it’s more than likely that the scammers will then instruct the victims to purchase various gift cards to make the ‘payment’. As we have said in the past, gift cards have become the currency of scammers due to the fact that gift cards are almost always untraceable once the money is spent.

    The FTC says that they will only send out letters if someone writes them first. However, they will never send a threatening letter to the public. The FTC would like to remind the public that no government agency will ever ask for payment by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. Anyone who asks for that form of payment is more than likely a scammer. If you receive one of these letters, you’re asked to contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or their website.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Romance scams thrive during the holidays 

    Romance scams thrive during the holidays

    For many people, being alone during the holidays can be a painful experience. So, in their search for companionship, they may turn to dating apps or social media to try to find someone to share the holidays with. Romance scammers are counting on this as with many scams the holiday season is their most lucrative time of the year. With many people being in such a vulnerable emotional state, people from all sorts of educational and economic backgrounds can be potential victims of the scam. Not only could it leave them with a broken heart but potentially an empty bank account and possibly jail time.

    Just in case you’re not familiar with romance scams, it’s where someone meets someone else online but never in real life. The new person in their life will start asking the victim for large amounts of money while professing their undying love for the victim. In too many instances, the victim is broke before they realize they’ve been scammed. Even worse, some victims continue to pay their scammers even though all evidence points to them being scammed. Some victims of the scam have paid their scammers hundreds of thousands of dollars while some others have embezzled from their employers to keep the money going to who they perceive as their online significant other.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be aware of these scams this holiday season. If you meet someone online and they claim to be interested in you, do a thorough web search to make sure they are who they claim to be. Use the picture they send you to do a reverse image search to make sure they haven’t been using in other scams. If their social media or dating profiles have missing information, that can be another red flag that they’re a scammer. Most importantly, if they ask for money while simultaneously giving you excuses as to why you can’t meet, that’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    While the feeling of being wanted is always nice, it’s not worth ignoring the red flags that could lead to crippling financial damages.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Is your city in the porch pirates’ top 10? 

    Is your city in the porch pirates' top 10?

    Another type of Grinch that wants to ruin your holiday season is the heartless porch pirate. This is the term used for thieves who will steal package deliveries straight from your porch or mailbox. With more and more people eschewing brick and mortar stores for online Christmas shopping, the problem of stolen packages is becoming more and more prevalent. It’s gotten so bad that there’s not a lot of what police departments can do once a package is stolen. If you’ve had a package stolen from your porch, you may think that your city is the worst. However, a study done by a home security company claims to have found the top ten cities where porch pirates are most prolific.

    According to home security company Safewise, they have looked at not only FBI statistics but also web searches for things like stolen or missing packages. They’ve determined that the top ten cities and metro areas for porch pirates are San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Portland, Baltimore, Seattle-Tacoma, Chicago, Austin, Denver, L.A., and Sacramento. Not surprisingly, a number of these cities are large tech hubs where more people tend to buy things online than in stores. Also, California is more represented on this list than any other state.

    It’s better to prevent porch theft than it is to try to recover a stolen package. While a doorbell camera or home security camera may catch the thieves in the act, it doesn’t seem to discourage them from stealing your deliveries. Instead of having packages left at your doorstep, you may want to consider having them delivered to your place of work, or to a neighbor’s house who is home more often. With their permission, of course. You may also want to consider renting a post office box at your local mail supply store. Not only does this give you a street address to use for deliveries, but they can also sign for packages for you. If you’re having an item shipped directly, try to have it delivered at a time when someone will definitely be home. Also, the US Postal Service has many free services available to you to prevent porch piracy such as having your mail held so you can pick it up at the post office.

    Just a few preventative steps will help you have a theft-free Christmas.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Homeland Security warns of counterfeits for Christmas 

    Homeland Security warns of counterfeits for Christmas

    If you’re looking for a very special Christmas present like a Louis Vuitton bag or a Rolex watch, you have to traverse through the minefield that are counterfeit goods. More often than not, when buying a well-known luxury brand item you’ll have to deal more with fakes then you will the genuine article. Besides being possibly ripped off, the high-end counterfeit goods market has been linked to every type of criminal activity from human trafficking to organized crime and funding terrorism. In the past year alone, the Department of Homeland Security has confiscated over $500 million in counterfeit goods.

    DHS has issued a warning about these phony products flooding the market during the holiday shopping season. They say to beware of websites offering deep discounts for normally expensive items as that’s a good indicator that the products are knock offs. A number of these sites offering these goods could also be just a front to gain your financial information and not even send you a product. DHS also wants people to know that knowingly buying a counterfeit product is also a federal offense and could land not only the seller but the buyer in jail as well.

    If you’re looking to buy these products first-hand, then only deal with reputable merchants and keep all the documentation that comes with it including receipts and confirmation emails. If you’re buying these items second-hand, any person selling these items should have all the documentation that goes along with them as they’re a common form of confirmation of the item’s authenticity. Some second-hand markets even have authenticity programs for high-end goods in order to try to prevent fraud. And while it may be fun to own a knock-off as a form of entertainment, keep in mind that buying one is not only illegal but you never really know where your money is going or what it’s funding.

    So, to keep everybody safe and happy during the holiday season, only buy genuine.

     
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