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  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , military death,   

    Scam call frightens military family 

    Scam call frightens military family

    We’ve talked about some pretty underhanded scams in the past few years. Nothing seems to be lower than the virtual kidnapping scam where scammers try to convince you that one of your children has been kidnapped. There’s also the grandparent scam where scammers try to fool the elderly into giving them money by posing as one of their grandchildren in trouble. I think we can all agree that one group of people that should be immune from scams are those with family in the military. While these brave men and women are defending our country, they shouldn’t have to worry about their loved ones being scammed out of their savings or having their identity stolen.

    Recently, a man in North Dakota received a phone call telling him that his Marine son was killed on active duty. The scammers told the man that his son had died during live-fire practice. They then asked the man where he’d like to have his son’s remains shipped to before eventually asking for the man’s Social Security number. It wasn’t until after the man hung up that he realized he had been scammed. He was eventually able to reach his son who was fine. The man then took several steps to try to make sure his identity won’t be stolen.

    If the unthinkable were to happen and a service member is killed during active duty, a member of that branch of the military will personally visit the primary next of kin to inform them. Phone calls should only be received after a member of the military pays a personal visit to the family’s home. There have even been scams where people dressed in military uniforms have gone to people’s houses telling them that a service member in their family had died. So even if someone shows up to your home, you may want to make some phone calls first to confirm the news.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on December 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Just how many people have fallen for the rental scam? 

    Just how many people have fallen for the rental scam?

    One of the scams we’ve talked about the most almost since day one is the rental scam. That’s for good reason as it’s one of the most prolific scams on the internet. If you’re unfamiliar with how it works, it takes advantage of those who are usually desperate to find a new home. The scammers will list a property online as being eligible to rent usually at well below market prices. They’ll ask for all sorts of payments such as deposits and first month’s rent but will almost always never be available in person nor will they let you inspect the property. Once the victim pays whatever money has been requested, not only will they be out that money but they could also be homeless as well. Usually, the property advertised is one that’s for sale by a legitimate realtor. The scammers copy the ads and change a few details to make it look like it’s a steal for rent.

    For us, this is old hat that we’ve known about for years. However, even we were a little shocked to learn the actual numbers behind the scam. According to the Better Business Bureau, five million people have been the victim of some form of rental scam. That’s more people that live in the city of Los Angeles. If we say that all of those people lost an average of $1,000 to rental scammers then they would have collectively lost $5 billion. The BBB also says that a number of properties that have been used in the scam have started posting signs outside that say the property is not actually for rent.

    As we previously mentioned, if a supposed landlord can’t meet you or wants you to rent the property sight unseen, it is more than likely a scam. Another red flag to look out for is a staple of the online scam and that’s the form of payment the scammer asks for. If someone claiming to rent a property asks you to make payment by wiring the money through Western Union or MoneyGram, it’s probably a scam. If they ask for payment in gift cards, we can almost guarantee that’s a scam. Both of these forms of payment allow scammers to run off with the victim’s money untraced.

    If you’re looking for a place to rent, research is your best defense. Always do a reverse image search to make sure the listing has not been copied. If they have a website you may also want to check with the county assessor to see who the actual landlord is. These two steps will go a long way in protecting you from scammers as no one wants to join the five million other victims.

     
    • Johnny Shepherd 4:27 pm on December 18, 2019 Permalink

      I was in desperate need of a place to stay in LA, found a room on “Roomster” app, met with the guy, spent afternoon w/ him, running around, getting lunch, looked at the place, was given a key to the house, signed a “lease”, slept there for 3 nights, and on the fourth day, I went to run some errands in the AM…and when I came back, everything that was in the house was now stacked outside (including my things), 3 laborers were inside tearing out the carpeting, and there was a sheriff’s deputy standing near the front door, not allowing access…My new “roommate/landlord”? Nowhere to be seen. The first and last month’s “rent”? Well, that was gone too. Good scam. Never thought it would happen to me. And I’m currently homeless because of it though I’m close to securing a new place from a friend.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: debt collectors, , ,   

    Debt can have an expiration date 

    Debt can have an expiration date

    Debt collection is an unusual business. In some states, you have to have a perfect credit record in order to work in debt collection. You’d think they’d hire people with bad credit since they’re the ones who know how to avoid collectors. It’s also not unusual for certain debts to be passed on from the initial vendor to a debt collection agency and then to other debt collectors down the road. So it may not come as much of a surprise that some of these debts end up in the hands of collectors who may not follow the law when it comes to trying to get money out of people who probably don’t have it.

    Debt collectors can sue you for any amount that’s been sent to collections. However, they only usually bother with lawsuits if they’re owed a substantial amount of money. On top of that, they have a limited window in which to file suit depending on the state. Due to the vast amount of debt some of these collectors have purchased, they don’t always meet the deadline to file a lawsuit. According to the Better Business Bureau, this hasn’t stopped some debt collection agencies from trying to collect on debts by threatening lawsuits even though the statute of limitations has been reached.

    Each state has its own statute of limitations. So before you agree to any kind of payment, not only should you check to make sure the debt is legitimate or not, but you should also make sure if the statut of limitations has been reached. In many states, if a collector is threatening to sue you after the statute of limitations that can be considered as harassment. Sadly, that’s not the only underhanded tactic that some debt collectors use. Maybe in the future, we’ll have more posts about how to protect yourself from underhanded debt collectors.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    When family comes calling for gift cards 

    When family comes calling for gift cards

    In the past, we’ve talked about family impersonation scams such as the grandparent scam. We’ve also talked about the numerous scams that involve retail gift cards. Now, we have reports of the two scams coming together like an evil chimera of scams. Once again, the scammers are upping their game during the holiday season and are looking to prey on your bonds with your family in order to try to get you to part with your hard-earned money under false pretenses. In short, they’re looking to take advantage of the charity you have for your family for their own gain,

    A report out of Northern California has revealed a new type of scam where scammers are posing as your relatives through email. The scammer will ask you to buy a gift card for their niece or nephew while the scammer claims that they’re traveling and can’t buy it themselves. They’ll either have you send the gift card to an address or have you email them the gift card serial number off of the back of the card. Either way, the phony relative disappears with your money from the gift card.

    If you receive one of these emails, check the email address to make sure if it’s the one that belongs to your relative. Even if it matches you should still call that relative to make sure they didn’t send that email. The request for the gift card itself should send up a red flag. Gift cards can be bought at almost any store from dollar stores to the bog box markets. Even gas station mini-marts sell various gift cards. If your relative claims to be traveling then they really should have no problem buying a gift card on their own. If they say otherwise, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    You can’t win a sweepstakes you never entered 

    You can't win a sweepstakes you never entered

    It’s time again for more scams that are happening around the country.

    In Iowa, authorities are warning residents who receive a letter from the “North America Consumer Promotion Draw.” The letter states that you’ve won some kind of sweepstakes prize and that you should call one of their agents so you can claim your prize. Of course, in order to claim your winnings, you have to pay a $1,000 processing and insurance fee. Instead of claiming any prizes, you’ll just be out of a grand. By and large, random people don’t get entered into giveaways that they haven’t entered themselves, and legitimate sweepstakes won’t ask you to pay a fee to claim your prize.

    In Wisconsin, a man fell victim to the bank texting scam. The man received a text from a scammer posing as his bank stating that there was fraudulent activity on his account. When the man texted back that those transactions weren’t him he received an automated phone call asking for his account’s PIN. Once he provided his PIN an actual fraudulent charge was made to his debit card for $500. If you receive any kind of notification stating that there’s a problem with your bank account, contact your bank directly. Don’t use the number that the text number may have provided and never give your PIN unless you’re absolutely sure you’re talking to your bank.

    Lastly, a Sheriff’s Office in Kentucky is warning local businesses about a gift card scam targeting their employees. A number of people have received emails posing as their bosses asking the employees to go out and buy gift cards. Once the gift cards were purchased the employees were instructed to send pictures of the gift card PINs through text message. If you receive an email like this, always verify with the person who is supposedly sending the email. If in doubt, call the person who sent the request to make sure you’re not falling victim to a scam.

    Please keep in mind that any number of these scams could be coming to your area at any time.

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

    Father almost falls for kidnapping scam 

    Father almost falls for kidnapping scam

    One of the cruelest scams that we’ve ever posted about has to be the virtual kidnapping scam. The scam entails receiving a phone call from someone who claims to have kidnapped one of your loved ones. The scammers may even have someone with them acting like the person they claim to have kidnapped. Due to the potential harm that could come to your loved one, rational thinking gets thrown out the window. You’re then instructed to have the ransom wired somewhere before your loved one will be released. After you give the scammers the money is when you find out that no one has been kidnapped at all.

    While many of us are aware of this scam, a hard-working father had to find out about this scam the hard way. The home inspector received a call from someone claiming to have kidnapped his daughter. He even had heard a voice that resembled his daughter calling out for help. The supposed kidnappers told the man that they would kill his daughter if he did not wire them $1,000. Luckily, the man had the wherewithal to write a note to a client he was with for them to call the police. When the situation was related to law enforcement they advised the man to try to call his daughter on another phone. Sure enough, his daughter was fine and had not been in any danger.

    Kidnapping for ransom is quite rare in the United States and is more of a Hollywood trope. However, it’s understandable how a high-pressure situation like this could lead to even the savviest people to fall for such a scam. If you were ever to receive one of these phone calls and you don’t want to take the chance that a loved may be in danger, do what this father did. Get access to another phone and call the person who is the supposed victim. The odds are pretty good that they will actually be safe and sound. Whenever you receive a high-pressure call that requires you to take some financial action like this, take a moment to gather your thoughts before making any decisions that could cost you a fortune.

     
  • 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.

     
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