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  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB: Beware of phony census takers 

    BBB: Beware of phony census takers

    The last time we spoke about the 2020 Census, we were warning people about fraudulent ads for census taker jobs. To summarize, you should never have to pay money to apply for a census-taking job. Official census-taking jobs are available to apply for free at the US Census Bureau’s website. However, this isn’t the only census related scam that you may have to be worried about. According to the Better Business Bureau, phony census takers may be approaching homes in hopes of gaining personal information from their victims.

    Most of us will be completing the census through the official means, which are mail, phone, or online. However, due to whatever reason, many people will not be able to complete or submit the census on their own. That’s where the census takers come in, they help get the government get a better representation of people living in your area. Just like with almost anything these days, scammers are said to be using the census to pose as phony census takers to try to obtain personal information from their victims.

    Census takers will ask residents for detailed information, but what they won’t ask for is your Social Security number. They will also never ask you for money nor, will they ask you for your mother’s maiden name. The former of which is often used as an online password recovery tool and on credit applications. Real Census takers will have ID badges from the Department of Commerce with a watermark and an expiration date on them. You can also call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local census representative to verify the census taker’s identity. If you feel like a census taker may not be an official census taker it is recommended that you call your local police before reporting it to the Better Business Bureau.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Coronavirus scams continue to spread 

    Coronavirus scams continue to spread

    The coronavirus continues to command headlines lately due to the number of deaths that have been reported. The virus is also slowing global trade and industry over fears of causing a global pandemic. People all over the world are constantly searching for information about the virus in order to protect themselves. Unfortunately, a lot of people are getting their information about the virus from questionable sources. We’re not just talking about the usual urban legends and old wives tales that propagate on social media. We’re talking about potentially dangerous products and practices that are being spread online in the name of profit during a time of crisis.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning the public about con artists who are claiming to have vaccines, prevention products like masks, and tips. The efficacy of masks has been called into question and many websites that claim to be selling masks are just traps to try to steal your identity. As of the time of publishing this post, no vaccine has yet to be developed that can prevent the spread of the virus. Anybody touting any kind of cure or prevention online is more than likely a scammer.

    In our previous post about the coronavirus, we discussed how cybercriminals are using the fear of the virus to commit phishing attacks. These phishing attacks appear to be increasing. Some of the emails being sent are coming from domains that look like official channels but aren’t For example, some of the emails being sent are reportedly coming from the domain of CDC-gov.com. This is not an official government domain as most of them end strictly in .gov. The Centers for Disease Control’s actual website is at CDC.gov. Some emails are even posing as the CDC asking for donations in Bitcoin. The federal government and especially the CDC would never reach out to the public by email. Any responses to these phony emails could potentially put your personal and financial information at risk.

    Again, if you need current and up to date information about the coronavirus, you can get it at the websites for the World Health Organization, or the Centers for Disease Control.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Modeling ad leads to fake check scam 

    Modeling ad leads to fake check scam

    Modeling is a demanding profession where a lot of people could be looking to take advantage of those with hopes of success. Previously, we’ve discussed how some ads for modeling jobs are really just sales pitches for classes or photo packages. In other instances, we’ve seen how some of these ads can lead to even more serious risks like extortion and human trafficking. Now we’re hearing tell of a new twist on one of the modeling scams. Or should we say we’re hearing reports about a new variation of that age-old classic, the fake check scam?

    A man from Columbus, Ohio is a local model and has been working to take his career even further. He recently responded to an online ad about an open casting call for models that was supposed to have been for some kind of advertising deal. After he responded to the ad he received a check for $2,500. The supposed modeling agent reportedly urged the man to deposit the check into the man’s bank account. He was then instructed to use the money to pay for the studio and photographer and then transfer the difference back to the agent. However, this model was already wary of scams and knew the check was a fake.

    While the article doesn’t go into detail, we imagine that the studio and photographer were probably just other places the money would have been electronically transferred or wired to. In these check scams, the victims are always instructed to deposit the check to their bank account and then send portions of the money to various places. It usually takes a couple of days before the bank where the check was deposited finds out the check was fake. By this time the scammers are gone and the victims have already sent the money out. This leaves the victim responsible for the money now owed to their bank.

    The fake check scam is used from everything from trying to sell an item online to employment scams and now modeling. If someone ever sends you a check and then asks for a portion or all of it back, the odds are pretty likely that it’s a fake and you could be on the hook to your bank for thousands of dollars.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CPN, Credit Privacy Numbers, credit repair,   

    This credit repair trick could get you arrested! 

    This credit repair trick could land you in jail!

    Since the 2008 Financial Crisis, consumer credit repair services have been popping up like weeds. While many of these services do offer legitimate assistance in repairing bad credit, there seem to be just as many who are just looking to take your money. While there are several types of scams that can be committed under the guise of credit repair, we’re going to discuss one in particular that can get victims of the scams arrested. What we’re referring to are Credit Privacy Numbers or CPNs for short. While there are legal uses for CPNs, many credit repair services are misrepresenting their uses.

    CPNs are nine-digit numbers that anyone can obtain if they need privacy for their credit. They are mainly used by celebrities and politicians who need an additional layer of privacy for their credit reports. This keeps outsiders from trying to obtain their credit records by using the person’s Social Security number. CPNs are not a replacement for your Social Security number even though some credit repair services give this impression. It is a federal offense to put any number in place of your Social Security number on any legal form. You have every right to withhold your Social Security number as long as it’s not from a federal agency. However, if you do omit your Social Security number on financial forms, that institution has every right to deny your credit or loan request.

    Some of these credit repair services will try to sell you a CPN claiming that you can use this number on credit applications to hide your bad credit. However, in a great number of cases, these supposed CPNs are just stolen Social Security numbers. They’re usually Social Security numbers that are stolen from children or the deceased. If you try taking out credit using one of these stolen Social Security numbers, there is a very high likelihood that you could be arrested even if you didn’t know the number was stolen.

    There is no quick fix to repairing bad or damaged credit. If you are looking for a reputable credit repair service you can find a list of credit counseling agencies that have been approved by your state government at the Department of Justice’s website.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: online dating, , subscription fees   

    Online dating can be a scam itself 

    Online dating can be a scam itself

    There has always been a number of pitfalls when it comes to online dating. Not only are romance scams mostly perpetrated through online dating but there’s also the dangers of predators and human trafficking. These problems are especially prevalent on free websites and apps. Due to the low barrier of entry, many of these platforms are rife with scammers, predators, and pick-up artists. So you may assume that a paid dating platform should have fewer of these problems. That may be true, however, depending on the platform it could open you up to a whole host of other problems from the platform itself.

    Many of these platforms rely on high-pressure sales tactics to get users to sign up. They’ll promise a one time only discounted fee to sign up only to lock you into a contract. The same also goes for free trial periods. Once some of these platforms have your payment information, they can continue to charge you once the introductory period has elapsed. These platforms will also make it incredibly difficult to cancel your membership. Some have even been known to continue billing users even after the membership has been canceled.

    If you’re inclined to register for one of these platforms, the Better Business Bureau recommends knowing what the cancellation policy is before signing up. That way if you’re not satisfied with the service you know your options when it comes to canceling your membership. The BB also recommends not falling for the slick advertising that some of these platforms release and to be wary of phrases such as “an exclusive network of people” or “for sincere daters only.” If a platform becomes particularly difficult to cancel, you can always contact your debit or credit card company and have the card on file canceled. That will require you to wait a few days to receive a new card but it’s a guaranteed way to stop any unwanted subscription charges.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Google Docs, ,   

    Google Docs used in phishing attack 

    Google Docs used in phishing attack

    It’s difficult to accomplish anything online without using one of Google’s many products. Whether your work uses Gmail as its email service or just conducting a simple web search, the majority of us will use a Google product on a daily basis. With most web users using Google’s Chrome browser, many users are entrenched into the Google ecosystem by default. Because of Google’s reach across the internet, it should come as no surprise that opportunistic cybercriminals will use Google’s familiarity to try to compromise your device and information. Once such instance of these tactics has been recently reported.

    Scammers are sending out emails that appear to be from someone on your contacts list who is sharing a document with you from Google Docs. The email will have logos attached from Google and Norton Security. The email will also say that the email has been scanned for viruses. Then there will be a link leading you to the supposed document. If you click on the link, malware could be installed on your device that not only could steal your information but it could also send out similar phishing emails to everyone on your contact list further spreading this latest attack. This is similar to an attack that happened back in 2017.

    The best way to protect yourself from this attack is to verify with the sender to make sure if this is a legitimate email or not. Enabling two-factor authentication on your email service will also go a long way in preventing your email from being hijacked. If the scammers can’t access your email remotely then they won’t be able to gain control of your outgoing emails. Most email providers offer two-factor authentication protection. While 2FA is not a 100% guarantee of protection, it does prevent a great number of attacks.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Identity thieves could steal your tax refund 

    Identity thieves could steal your tax refund

    We’ve discussed IRS scams in the past but those scams usually involve someone posing as an IRS agent demanding money from their victims. Now, with it being tax season, there is a whole different scam to be on the lookout for and that’s the tax identity theft scam. In this scam, identity thieves get a hold of your Social Security number and try to steal your tax return using your personal information. With the advent of electronic filing and direct payments, it’s easier than ever for someone to file a phony tax return before the victim even knows about it.

    One of the main ways that identity thieves steal your personal information during tax season is posing as tax preparers. If you’re going to have your taxes prepared professionally stick with the more reputable and well-known firms. If you’re going to use a local tax preparer for the first time, do your research on their reputation and performance. A number of fly by night operations seem to pop up out of nowhere during tax season. If they’re offering their service at below-market costs this could be an indicator that they’re not on the up and up.

    The best way to avoid this scam is to file your return as early as possible. Basically, you want to try and get your return in before any potential identity thieves do. If you’re filing by mail you should take your return directly to your local post office and not risk leaving it to sit in a mailbox. And definitely don’t leave it in your own mailbox for the postal carrier to pick it up. It could be easily stolen from your mailbox that way.

    If you receive a letter from the IRS stating that a duplicate return has been received get in touch with them right away as that means that someone did, in fact, file a return in your name.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , valentine's day   

    Romance scams in time for Valentine’s Day 

    Romance scams in time for Valentine's Day

    With Valentine’s Day approaching a number of us are getting our plans in order for the romantic holiday. Whether it’s the old standbys of flowers, dinner, and chocolates or something as simple as a movie, many people will be shelling out big bucks to try to celebrate their significant other or impress a new prospective partner. That kind of spending is fine if you’re into the Valentine’s Day celebrations. However, there is another kind of romantic spending no one should do no matter what time of year it is and that’s falling victim to the romance scam.

    The romance scam can affect anyone no matter what their social status, education level, or age group is. It usually starts out on dating sites and apps or social media. The scammer will try to strike up a relationship with a victim almost out of the blue but they’ll never meet the victim in real life. They may give some excuse like they’re working in a remote area or they’re living overseas. Eventually, the scammers will ask their victims for money under the guise of some emergency or money they need to travel. If a victim ends up paying this money, the scammer will continue to ask for money but will still give excuses as to why they can’t meet in person.

    The FBI has a list of tips on how to avoid romance scams. These include researching the photos that someone uses in their profile, not allowing the other person to try to isolate you from your family, and never give out your banking or other financial information. If you were to become a victim of one of these scams, the FBI recommends either filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center or your local FBI field office.

    While the feeling of being alone on Valentine’s isn’t the best, it’s not worth ignoring the red flags that could lead to financial ruin.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Coronavirus fears have led to cyber attacks 

    Coronavirus fears have led to cyber attacks

    The coronavirus has taken up much of the headlines lately and with good reason. Recent reports have come out claiming that it could become a global pandemic although the potential fatality rate remains in doubt. Add to that the amount of rumors and misinformation that is being spread about the disease isn’t helping allay public fears. So as is can be expected, cybercriminals have taken it upon themselves to take advantage of that fear for their own crooked purposes. As we always say, scammers and con artists never fail to take advantage of a disaster or crisis to try and put one over on their victims at great personal cost.

    Security experts at Kaspersky Labs have discovered several phishing emails being spread about the coronavirus. The emails, a sample of which can be seen here, pretend to be from a medical professional who is a coronavirus expert. The emails then request that you click on a link so you can get more information about protecting yourself from the coronavirus. The links are disguised as being any number of video or document files such as pdfs and mp4s. However, these attachments are filled with malware that can do any number of malicious things to your device including destroying your files or holding your device for ransom, among others.

    As always, you should never click on any links or attachments in emails from someone you don’t know personally. If you are concerned about the coronavirus you can get the most factual information from either the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, or both. Education about the disease is one of the best tools we have as a society in defeating it.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    How to recognize an Airbnb scam 

    How to recognize an Airbnb scam

    Last Fall, a reporter from VICE unintentionally uncovered an alleged scam ring that was operating on Airbnb. She found that several hosts were using bait and switch tactics to get guests into substandard accommodations. In her case, the hosts said that there was a plumbing accident at the property she had booked but they offered her a substitute booking. The replacement lodging was compared to that of a flophouse. She discovered that the hosts were allegedly pulling the same scam using different names all over the country. It seems that these scammers were not the only ones.

    In a recent follow-up article, VICE reached out to their readers and asked them what scams they had encountered while using Airbnb. The bait and switch was an obvious one with many people reporting that hosts would say that something happened to the property in the listing, like a plumbing emergency, and that they would rent them a different listing which of course was substandard. Another common scam was hosts trying to get guests to pay for their stays outside of the Airbnb platform through either cryptocurrency, check, or a third-party payment app. Other respondents said that hosts would often try to charge them for damages where the fees were much greater than the cost to repair the damages.

    Unfortunately, with the way the Airbnb platform is set up, you can’t often detect a scam listing until you’ve already made arrangements. The best protection against these scams is to thoroughly research the hosts. It’s recommended that you do a reverse image search on their profile pictures to make sure the hosts aren’t using stock images or images they found online. You can also research the people leaving good reviews for the hosts to make sure they’re not the hosts leaving phony reviews. However, the only foolproof way to avoid Airbnb scams is to rent a hotel room.

     
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