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  • Geebo 7:31 am on April 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Virtual rental scam keeps claiming victims 

    Virtual rental scam keeps claiming victims

    Last week, we posted an entry about victims who were taken in by a new type of rental scam. In this scam, phony landlords are saying they can’t meet with prospective renters because of the quarantine. The scammers would then send their victims a link so they could take a virtual tour of the home. As with all rental scams, the scammers would collect rent or deposits for properties they don’t own. Many of the victims move into the property thinking they’re now renting the property only to find out that they’ve been had. Now it seems that this virtual rental scam is becoming more commonplace.

    More recently in Texas, a woman and her son had moved into a new home before finding out from the property manager that she was there illegally. She had found the listing for the home on craigslist. When she had inquired about the home, the scammer sent her a link to a website called Rently so she could see the home virtually. Rently is a legitimate website but anyone can go on it and view rental properties. The scammer then collected the first month’s rent of $1500 through a payment app. After the woman realized she had been scammed she was able to get her money back from her bank’s app but it most cases, that money is lost forever.

    One of the red flags, in this case, was that the photos of the property were watermarked by the rental company. The scammer said that the rental company wasn’t moving the property fast enough so they listed the property on craigslist. Scammers often copy legitimate listings from rental companies or real estate agencies to pass off as their own. Another red flag was the scammer asking for payment through a payment app. You should never use Cash App or Venmo for payments to someone you don’t know as these apps are favored by scammers due to their anonymity.

    Even in the time of social distancing, you should still always ask for a face to face meeting. You can still practice safe social distancing during one of these meetings. Always do a reverse image search of the property to make sure the listing hasn’t been copied. Lastly, you should also check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. This research may take some time but in the end, it’s worth it to avoid finding yourself in a situation like this.

     
  • Geebo 8:22 am on April 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Some sites slow to pull bad COVID products 

    Some sites slow to pull bad COVID products

    As we have mentioned before, the current pandemic has been a boom period for all sorts of con artists and scammers. The scams started even before coronavirus even started claiming all the headlines. Even before stay at home orders were issued, scammers were already online selling masks that didn’t exist or harmful snake oil cures. Even with all that we currently know about COVID-19 these scams are continuing unabated. Now, these scams even have an air of legitimacy as many of them are appearing on legitimate commerce sites. The problem is that these commerce sites are slow to pull any dangerous or false products if they even pull them at all.

    A tech company by the name of Proxyway performed an investigation into several e-commerce sites that were selling harmful products that either claimed to test for or cure COVID-19. These dangerous products were reviewed by medical professionals to determine how harmful they were. The sites that Proxyway investigated were Alibaba, AliExpress, Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay. Alibaba and Craigslist would take up to a week before the hazardous products were removed. eBay would take an average of three days while Amazon would take an average of two. While two and three days may seem like a short time, any number of people could have ordered these risky products from what they might assume are legitimate retailers.

    While sites like Amazon and eBay employ reviewers to look out for unsafe products they’re still not infallible. Craigslist is worse since it relies on community policing which has bitten craigslist in the past. Just because something is on a website, no matter how legitimate the website might be, you can’t assume the product is safe, especially when it comes to COVD-19.

    As of the time of this posting, there are no cures for COVID-19 and there are no commercially available home testing kits.

    For all valid information about COVID-19 please visit Coronavirus.gov.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Census scam takes advantage of stimulus confusion 

    Census scam takes advantage of stimulus confusion

    There’s already enough confusion when it comes to the economic impact payment that most taxpayers are set to receive. Many people who still haven’t received their stimulus checks are trying to figure out if maybe they did something wrong to delay their payment. Leave it to the con artists and scammers of the world to take advantage of that confusion. This latest scam takes advantage of not only the confusion regarding the stimulus payments but also the 2020 Census. The scam would have you believe that you need to fill out a census in order to receive your stimulus payment, but that isn’t true.

    The scam works like so many others. You’ll receive an unsolicited text, email, or social media message that claims you won’t receive your stimulus package without filling out the Census. These messages will contain a link that will supposedly provide additional information. If you click on the link, several things could potentially happen. You could be directed to a site that will infect your device with malware, or you could be directed to a site that looks like the US Census site that is designed to steal your personal information. Either way, the goal is to steal your identity and not necessarily your stimulus payment. Although if your identity is stolen it wouldn’t be hard for the thief to claim your stimulus payment.

    As always, you should never click on links from anyone you don’t know personally. Even then, you should be wary of links from friends in case their accounts have been compromised. Neither the IRS nor the Census Bureau will send you unsolicited messages about your stimulus payment. Also, keep in mind that all US government websites end with the .gov domains.

    As we’ve been saying, the pandemic has been a boon for all types of scammers and cybercriminals. Now more than ever as consumers we need to keep our wits about us.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    More info on stimulus delays 

    More info on stimulus delays

    Even with a large number of Americans having already received their economic impact payments, many still have not. We’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the delays and we’re going to try to answer them as best as possible. However, please keep in mind we are not tax experts and we defer all final authority to the IRS’s Coronavirus and Economic Impact Payments website.

    The most common questions we receive are about the stimulus payments and Social Security. While we don’t have the answer for every situation, from what we understand, payments are supposed to start going out this week. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone on Social Security benefits will receive there’s this week so you should plan accordingly. From everything that we’ve read, if you receive Social Security benefits you’ll receive the stimulus payment the same way you receive your Social Security payments even if you’re not required to file taxes.

    If the IRS does not have any payment information on file for you, you’ll receive a paper check if your eligible for the stimulus payment. Paper checks will be issued in order of annual adjusted gross income. That means that the people who claimed the least income on their 2018 or 2019 tax returns will receive their paper checks first. This article from Forbes contains a schedule of when paper checks are scheduled to be issued depending on your gross income. The highest earners may have to wait until September before receiving their paper checks.

    Lastly, we’ve been hearing some discussion about whether or not US citizens who are married to immigrants will receive a stimulus payment. There is an element of truth to this but it’s not as cut and dry as most people think. If a U.S. citizen is married to an immigrant who does not have a Social Security number and file taxes jointly, neither person is eligible for the stimulus payment. However, if the U.S. citizen filed a single return, they are eligible for the stimulus payment. If a U.S. citizen is married to an immigrant who has a Social Security number and filed taxes jointly, both persons are eligible for the stimulus payment.

    We hope this clears up some of the confusion.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Of course there’s a coronavirus puppy scam 

    Of course there's a coronavirus puppy scam

    With the current stay at home orders, many people are turning to pet adoption to combat the inherent loneliness associated with the quarantine. Pets have been shown as a way to help combat the depression and anxiety that many people are experiencing for the first time. However, before we get to the heart of the matter, we’d be remiss if we didn’t advise our readers that pets are a commitment. You should only get a pet if your current financial situation allows it and you plan on keeping your new friend once the quarantine is over. It doesn’t help anyone if you have to give up your pet.

    Online puppy scams are nothing new. The way they normally work is a scammer posts an ad online for a popular breed of puppy at a heavily discounted price. Once you pay the scammer they’ll either just take off with your money or try to bleed more money out of you with fake charges like insurance or shipping costs. Many scammers will say that something went wrong during the shipping process and more money is needed to correct the issue. In the end, you’ll end up out of a lot of money and have no puppy to show for it. Now, scammers are saying that you have to pay extra to have the non-existent puppy shipped because of coronavirus safeguards. Most scammers will also try to have you pay through untraceable means like wire transfer and gift cards.

    If you’re thinking of adding a new furry friend to your life, try to shop for your pet locally. We always advise adopting from your local animal shelter as they have many healthy and friendly pets available for adoption. Some shelters even have notification lists where you can be informed if you’re looking for a certain breed. If you’re going to deal with a breeder, please make sure they’re a licensed breeder as there are too many backyard breeders selling sick pets just for the money.

    Just like any other transaction, you’ll make the best choice once you’ve done your research before making a big life decision like getting a puppy.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    “Oops! Can you send that back?” 

    "Oops! Can you send that back?"

    Payment apps are a great convenience. They mean that we don’t necessarily have to carry cash on us and can be used to pay for various goods and services while maintaining social distances. These apps like Venmo, Cash App, Paypal, and the like have been around for a long time and have been the targets of scammers almost since the beginning. Now, scammers have come up with a new way to try to steal money from your payment app account and it relies on the politeness of others.

    If you use one of these apps and you receive a payment from someone you don’t know, don’t spend it and don’t send it back. Scammers are sending payments to random app users along with a message that says something along the lines of “Oops! Can you send that back?” These are payments sent using stolen credit cards or other stolen financial information. If you send the payment back to them it becomes real money in their account. However, once the credit card is reported stolen that money will come out of your account and you will be out the amount of the ‘Oops’ payment. This is very reminiscent of the phony check scam only in digital form.

    If you receive one of these payments, instead of sending the money back ask them to cancel the payment. If they refuse or try to pressure you into sending it back it’s more than likely a scam. Report the payment to whichever app you’re using and whatever you do, don’t touch that money. It should just be removed from your account but as we said, if you spend the money you’ll ultimately be responsible for that amount.

    This is an unprecedented time for scammers so please keep your wits about you when dealing with digital payments.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Covid-19 used as part of rental scam 

    Covid-19 used as part of rental scam

    Scammers keep using the current covid-19 pandemic to their advantage in new and creative ways by applying it to scams that have been in practice for years. One of the most common scams that we’ve discussed is the rental scam. This is where a scammer posts an ad online for a rental property they claim to own. The rent is almost always advertised as below market value. Also, the rent is almost always asked for without being to see the dwelling itself or meeting the landlord. In previous instances of the scam, scammers would give various reasons as to why they couldn’t meet the prospective tenants or show the property. Now, it seems that covid-19 precaution is being used as an excuse.

    In Thornton, Colorado three different families fell for the same rental scam thinking they all had just rented a home for their families. Instead, they were taken by a con artist. The scammer had posted the home for rent on Facebook Marketplace. When potential renters would inquire about the home the scammer allegedly told them that due to covid-19 concerns he would give a virtual tour of the home. One victim of the scam paid $2500 to the scammer as a deposit. While the news report doesn’t say how payment was made, it’s safe to assume it may have been done through a wire service like Western Union or Moneygram. As you can expect, the scammer did not own the house and the property was actually being rented by a real estate agency and already promised to a tenant. This isn’t the only case of a covid-19 rental scam.

    Even in this time of social distancing, if you’re looking to rent a home never pay a prospective landlord without meeting them in person. However, before meeting them, make sure they’re the actual landlord by doing a web search on the address of the rental home. This kind of web search should turn up who is actually renting the property. For a more accurate report of who owns the property, you can check with the county’s assessor’s office or website. It’s better to put in the extra research time so you don’t end up losing money and a roof over your head.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Blessing Looms are just pyramid schemes in disguise 

    Blessing Looms are just pyramid schemes in disguise

    Just when we think we’ve come across all the scams designed to swindle you out of your stimulus check, we’ve come across a new one. Or rather, an old one in a new coat of paint. They’re called ‘Blessing Looms’ and they promise you can make your initial investment back several times. Investment into what you may ask. That’s just it. You’re not really investing in anything at all.

    The typical diagram of a blessing loom can be seen above. The way it works is there is a circle of people who all put in the same initial investment. It can be as little as $10 or as much as say $1,200 just to use a figure that’s been in the news. The person on the inside of the ring recruits two people to fill the next ring. Then they recruit two people each to fill the next level of the ring and so on. Once the ring is full, the person in the middle gets all the investments from that loom. Then people gradually move closer towards the center of the ring where they’ll eventually make it to the center. The money is usually sent to your recruiter through apps like Venmo, Cash App, and the like.

    While the shape may be different, the so-called Blessing Loom also goes by another name, the pyramid scheme. The only difference is the way the scam is presented. As with most pyramid schemes, the problem with Blessing Looms is that only the people that get in first are the only ones who usually make money. The more the circle expands the more difficult it becomes to recruit new members leaving most participants at a loss. These Blessing Loom scams have seen a dramatic uptick on social media after the stimulus payments were announced.

    Even if you think it’s just a small investment so what could it hurt, keep this in mind. Pyramid schemes are illegal. If there is actually no product being purchased then it’s an illegal pyramid scheme. So not only could you find yourself out of money but you could find yourself in legal trouble as well.

    Remember, you can’t make money just by giving someone else your money.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    What’s keeping your stimulus check? 

    What's keeping your stimulus check?

    We’ve been trying to keep our readers informed about the economic impact payments that most taxpayers are set to receive. However, one of the questions we keep receiving is “Why haven’t I received my payment yet?” While we can’t tell everyone what’s going on with each individual payment, we can at least try to tell our readers the most common reasons why payments have not been received yet.

    The most common reason is that the IRS hasn’t issued the payment yet. Due to the massive scope of this undertaking, some payments may not be released for months. If you go to the IRS’s Get My Payment tool and you receive the ‘payment status not available’ message, that could mean a few things. It could be because you entered your information incorrectly. Be careful when entering your information to make sure you haven’t made a typo. If you’ve filed your 2019 taxes but they haven’t been processed by the IRS yet, that could also hold up your stimulus payment. Your payment could also be delayed if your bank is having to deal with additional demands due to the stimulus payments.

    However, what you may not know is that if you filed your taxes through a professional service like H&R Block, your payment may be sent by mail. If you used a service that allowed you to get an advance on your tax refund, there’s a good chance that the IRS does not have your banking information on file. Those services often use debit cards that are attached to temporary bank accounts. If the temporary account is closed the payment will be rejected and then you’ll have to wait for a paper check.

    Please keep in mind that not everyone is going to get their stimulus payment right away and you should plan your current finances accordingly.

    (H/T CNet)

     
    • Bonnie Cantley Williams 9:39 am on April 24, 2020 Permalink

      ON SOCIAL SECURITY .NOT REQUIRED TO PAY TAXES.WHEN WILL I GET MY STIMULUS CHECK?

    • Pamela J Martinez 9:12 pm on April 25, 2020 Permalink

      I wanted to enter my payment information for direct deposit for my stimulus money. Filed 2019 tax return, no refund, no money owed. Cannot hit submit because I did not mark refund or money owed. What can I do?

    • Geebo 11:53 am on April 26, 2020 Permalink

      While we, unfortunately, don’t have the answer for every situation from what we understand, people on disability will receive their stimulus payment the same way they receive their disability payments.

      This is according to the AARP.

      The automatic payments will be issued no later than early May in the same manner SSI recipients normally receive benefits: by direct deposit, paper check or Direct Express debit card.

      https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/info-2020/ssi-eligibility-stimulus-checks.html

    • Geebo 11:55 am on April 26, 2020 Permalink

      From what we understand, when submitting your banking info you can select one of those options and input $0.00 as the amount.

    • Juanita May 9:09 pm on April 26, 2020 Permalink

      I am on SSDI And SSI.when will I Receive my Stimulus check.

    • Geebo 8:23 am on April 27, 2020 Permalink

      From what we understand, payments should start to go out this week.

    • Rahmere Cannady 1:59 pm on April 30, 2020 Permalink

      I filed 2018 and didn’t get my federal tax return or no 2020 stiumlus

    • Geebo 2:43 pm on April 30, 2020 Permalink

      According to reports, payments are still in the process of being issued.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Are debt collectors coming for your stimulus check? 

    Are debt collectors coming for your stimulus check?

    Debt is a delicate topic to discuss. There are those who think that anyone who is in debt must have lived outside their means and wasted all their money on frivolities. While cases like that certainly exist, the truth is that most people who are in debt are that way because of an unforeseen incident that happened in their life. Much of consumer debt comes from medical issues that even with health insurance still incurs a great deal of debt. The point that we’re making is that not everyone who is in debt is some deadbeat who refuses to pay their bills and spends their money on the latest model of an expensive TV. Having said that, to those people who are in debt through no fault if their own, debt collectors may be coming for your economic impact payment or as it’s more colloquially known your stimulus check.

    The stimulus checks were intended for people to be able to pay for food, rent, and utilities during this uncertain time. However, there are few protections in place preventing debt collectors from coming after your stimulus check when you need it most. While some states and larger municipalities have passed legislation to protect consumers the majority of stimulus recipients have no such protections. It could be especially problematic for those who have had garnishments levied against them. In many garnishment cases, the debt collectors have an agreement with your bank and are monitoring any payments that come into your account. In this case, your stimulus payment could be intercepted and be taken as garnishment.

    So what can someone do if they need that stimulus payment just to keep a roof over their head or food on the table? One thing you can do is to go to the IRS portal
    and change your form of payment from direct deposit to a physical check. This way you can get the check cashed without having the debt collectors knowing that you’ve received your stimulus payment.

    While you should pay off your debts in a reasonable matter, most people should never have to go hungry or homeless because of them.

    (H/T Market Watch)

     
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