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  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Inside the life of an unemployment scammer 

    Inside the life of an unemployment scammer

    We’ve been discussing the current spate of unemployment scams for quite some time now. In case this is the first time you’re hearing of it, the unemployment systems in all 50 states have been assailed by both foreign and domestic scammers. The scammers use stolen identities to apply for fraudulent unemployment benefits. The state systems have been overwhelmed. Not only have they issued billions in fraudulent benefits, but they’ve also had little to no success in recouping the money.

    Recently, USA Today published an expose where they spoke with one of these scammers. It might surprise you how easy it is for these scammers to file for fraudulent benefits.

    The scammer that USA Today spoke with said that it only costs $2 to purchase a stolen identity online. That gets them a name, a date of birth, and a Social Security number. In most states, that’s all they need to file a fraudulent claim. If the state requires more information like a maiden name, the scammer can usually find that information publicly online. The scammer claims that they’re able to successfully file for benefits one out of 6 attempts. So far the scammer claims they’ve made $50,000 in 2020 alone. When asked if they have any remorse the scammer says their victims are nobody to them.

    The reason that the unemployment scammers have been so successful is that the state unemployment systems are not designed to catch these kinds of fraudulent claims. Instead, they’re designed to catch regular people who are lying in their applications. So far, the states have been very slow in reacting to these new scams and that has hurt legitimate unemployment recipients in the process. Some recipients have even been cut off by their state while the scammer collects their money. Even if you discover the fraud and report it to the state, it may take them a while before they can even react. Meanwhile, the scammers are collecting money hand over fist.

    We don’t know what the states need to do to turn back the tide of scammers, but the longer they take to act, the more money ends up in the pockets of scammers. Meanwhile, American citizens go hungry while the states try to figure this out.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    New scam threatens you with human trafficking arrest 

    New scam threatens you with human trafficking arrest

    Police impersonation scams are nothing new. They can range from something innocuous like owing a traffic ticket to something major like your Social Security number being involved with a major crime. All of these impersonation scams rely on one thing, and that’s a fear of being arrested. Scammers will use that fear to try to pressure you into either making a payment to them or giving them your personal information. A new scam not only tries to take advantage of that fear of arrest but also uses the fear of potential public embarrassment.

    Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado are warning residents about an impersonation scam that’s affecting their area. Scammers are posing as police detectives and calling their victims to tell them that the victim’s phone number was found in a human trafficking ring. While the report we’ve seen doesn’t specify, we imagine that the scam’s victims are being told that their phone number was found to have been used soliciting the services of a human trafficking ring.

    Usually, in a scam like this, victims are told that payment can make a situation like this go away. The payment is almost always made in some form of untraceable funds like gift cards, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. However, in the case of the Colorado Springs scam, the scammers are directing victims to a website and enter their personal information. The victims are also being told that if they don’t go to the website, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. It seems like these scammers aren’t after a quick payout but are after identity theft for a bigger score.

    More often than not, if your phone number were to pop up during a police investigation, investigators would be sent to talk to you personally. However, if you were to receive one of these phone calls, it’s recommended that you take down the caller’s name and badge number then contact the department’s non-emergency number to verify if what the caller says is true or not.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Be careful of that Christmas gift card 

    Be careful of that Christmas gift card

    With so many people unable to visit their loved ones this holiday season, gift cards were a popular choice among the socially distanced. If you received a gift card for Christmas this year, remember it’s the thought that counts and you might want to check the balance on the card before you try to spend it. Not only are gift cards used in any number of payment scams, but they’re also vulnerable to scams when used for their intended purpose.

    Scammers will go into a store and take down the serial numbers on a series of gift cards. Once the cards are activated by a paying customer, the scammers will immediately drain the balance off of that card. Check to see if the card has already been scratched off or if the scratch-off area has been replaced by a sticker. That could indicate the card has been tampered with. Gift cards usually have a phone number or a website where you can check the balance before you spend it. This will prevent a possibly embarrassing trip to where you want to use the gift card.

    You should also be wary of anyone who tries to sell you a partially used gift card. Often, the scammer will approach someone in the parking lot trying to sell the gift card at a discounted rate. They’ll show you that the card has a balance on it but once you buy the card from them, the scammer will transfer the balance off of the card they just sold you.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do once the funds have been drained from a gift card. The best thing to do once you receive a gift card is to try to use it as soon as possible and hope that you’ve beaten the scammer to the punch.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , food banks, MacKenzie Scott, volunteer   

    Food bank to receive surprise donation from billionaire 

    Food bank to receive surprise donation from billionaire

    2020 was a particularly difficult year for food banks. Due to the pandemic, most food banks saw an increase in demand for their services by people who were either laid off or furloughed. Now imagine you’re one of these struggling food banks and you find out you’re going to receive a substantial donation from one of the country’s richest people.

    That’s what happened to a food bank in Arkansas after they were contacted by billionaire and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Scott is the former wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and has promised to donate most of her wealth. So far, Scott has donated close to $2 billion to groups that have historically served marginalized and underserved people.

    But you don’t have to be a billionaire to help your local food bank. You can always donate food as the name implies, however, each food bank has specific needs. Please contact your local food bank to see what their most urgent needs are. Please don’t donate the canned goods that have been sitting in your cabinet that have been collecting dust for years. If you’re not going to eat it, the odds are that the food bank won’t need it. What they do need in most cases is nonperishable foods that have a decent shelf life. Peanut butter and canned meats like tuna and ham are preferred.

    If you don’t know what foods to donate, you can always donate money if you can afford it. Most of these organizations are barely scraping by with their operating costs. Most food banks will not receive donations like the one Ms. Scott will be donating to the Arkansas food bank.

    If you can’t donate food or money you could always volunteer your time. Many of the front-line workers at food banks are the elderly and they’re putting themselves at great risk. The more volunteers a food bank has, the less likely it will be that one of their elderly workers will become infected.

    If you want to help your community recover during these trying times, we can think of no better way than helping with your local food bank.

  • Geebo 11:00 am on December 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , typosquatting   

    How a typo could cost you money 

    How a typo could cost you money

    Right now, it’s probably too late to get a Christmas present to someone on time if you’re shopping online. However, there is an online shopping scam that takes place all year long that you should be aware of.

    Have you ever mistyped the address of your favorite website only to end up on some sketchy site full of ads and malware? Now what if you mistyped the address of your favorite shopping site but the site looked exactly the same? That’s what some scammers are hoping happens if you misspell the name of a popular retailer.

    Some scammers have registered slightly misspelled web addresses, known as URLs, to try to trick you into giving them money. For example, scammers will register a URL that puts in a zero when the actual address had an ‘O’ in it. Or they’ll add an extra letter that most people won’t notice. This is known as ‘typosquatting’

    These typosquatters won’t just sit around waiting for someone to make a typing error. They’ll also send out phishing emails that look like they’re from the legitimate retailer but use their phony URL for any links in the email. As always, you should never click on email links from people you don’t know personally.

    If you go to the duplicate site, not only could scammers get your login information for the legitimate site, they could also get your financial information.

    The best way to protect yourself from typosquatting outside of double-checking your spelling is to use a credit card when shopping online. Credit cards come with more consumer protections than that of a debit card, gift card, or online payment service. Some credit cards even provide a free service that generates a temporary credit card number that you could use for a one time purchase. This will prevent your credit card from being used for additional fraudulent charges.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Scams are sure to follow new stimulus payments 

    Scams are sure to follow new stimulus payments

    This past Monday, Congress approved a new round of economic impact payments to most US citizens. The new round of payments will only be half as much as the initial payments at $600. Even though these payments will be less, they won’t stop scammers from trying to fleece you out of your payment. While we’re sure new scams will emerge with the next round of payments, scammers will continue to use the same scams they did before. So let’s review some of those scams.

    This round of payments are supposed to be received quicker than the payments back in Spring. However, scammers might try to convince you that they can the payment to you quicker if you give them your financial information. In reality, no one person or agency can get you your payment to you faster.

    The IRS will not reach out to you by text message, phone call, social media, or email about your stimulus payment. So if anyone contacts you out of the blue and says there is an issue with your payment, they are more than likely scammers. If you think there might be an issue with your payment, you can always check with the IRS’s Get My Payment website.

    As previously mentioned, the stimulus checks will be no more than $600. If anyone is contacting you promising more money than that, they are scammers.

    Be wary if you receive a paper check that is designed to look like a stimulus payment. Scammers will follow up with a phone call stating that they’ve overpaid you and will ask you to deposit the check and return the overage. These are fake checks and if you deposit one, you’ll be responsible for the amount to your bank.

    Speaking of banks, your bank will not call you about your stimulus payment status. Once again, these are scammers trying to divert your payment to them.

    In general, it’s best not to click on any links about your stimulus that you receive in any online communication and do not give your personal information over the phone.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Credit card scammers take advantage of economic need 

    Credit card scammers take advantage of economic need

    Credit cards have long been a subject of contention in our country. Banks and institutions have been criticized for alleged predatory practices when it comes to offering credit cards. Conversely, many consumers have racked up mountains of credit card debt that they’ll eventually go bankrupt from. Leave it to the scammers to take advantage of such a chaotic situation to make matters even worse for consumers.

    With so many people trying to scrape by during the pandemic, large numbers of consumers are using credit cards just to keep the lights running as long as possible. While they are living well beyond their means, most of these consumers have little to no choice in doing so.

    Enter the scammers who are promising economic relief. According to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas, residents there have reported a slew of scam phone calls they’ve received about credit card relief. Scammers have been posing as credit card companies like VISA, Master Card, and Discover. They’ll claim that due to the pandemic they’re offering zero percent interest and a refund of all the interest that’s been paid this year.

    Not only are the scammers asking for your credit card numbers but they’re also asking for your banking information under the guise of direct depositing your ‘refund’. Of course, what they’ll really do is run up charges on your credit card and drain your bank account.

    If you receive one of these calls, it’s recommended that you hang up and contact your local law enforcement. If you’ve been a victim of this scam, you should contact police and also your credit card company using the number on the back of your card.

    One good way to avoid this scam is that if your credit card company called you, they would already know your credit card number. However, as a general rule, you should never give your financial information to a stranger over the phone. If your credit card company does call and you don’t feel secure talking to their representative, you can call them back at the number on the back of your card.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Charity scams hit hardest this time of year 

    Charity scams hit hardest this time of year

    This time of year, many charities see increases in donations due to the giving spirit of the holidays. However, there are some organizations posing as charities that might not help who they claim to.

    Most charity scams start with unsolicited phone calls. They’ll claim to be collecting money for an official-sounding charity or a charity that uses a similar name to an official charity. They may also use a generic phrase like they’re collecting for bond relief without giving a specific charity name. They’ll then try to pressure you into making a payment right then and there before you can hang up. Often they’ll try to get you to make a donation using an untraceable method like cash, gift cards, or wiring the money.

    If you’re thinking about donating to a charity that collects online, you may want to think about doing a proper web search about the charity first. Put the name of the charity into the search engine along with phrases like ‘complaints’, ‘review’, or even ‘scam. Also, make sure that you’re not signing up for a series of monthly donations.

    You should also be careful of phishing emails that pretend to be from charities. Much like the unsolicited phone calls, the emails will look like they’ve been sent from actual well-known charities. In one instance, a man clicked on an email link to donate to a charity, and his device became infected with ransomware. Not only did he end up losing all his files, but his identity was stolen as well.

    If you’re looking to donate in order to support the cause, you can use the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org to aid you in your research of charities.

    There really is no level that online scammers won’t stoop to. If you just take a few moments to do some research, you can protect yourself from falling victim to these con artists.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Secret Santa   

    Scam disguises itself as ‘Secret Santa’ program 

    Scam disguises itself as 'Secret Santa' program

    We’ve discussed the repackaging or reshipping scam previously. Traditionally, scammers will advertise this scam as a work from home position where your job is to inspect packages you receive from the scammers. Then you’d be instructed to send the contents of the packages to a third party. The third party is usually someone overseas. These positions are often advertised online with such titles as ‘shipping coordinator’, ‘warehouse distribution coordinator, or ‘local hub inspector’. Now, some scammers are adding a Christmas twist to the reshipping scam.

    Police in Ohio have reported a number of complaints they’ve received from residents who have received emails asking them to help in a ‘Secret Santa’ program. The email says that participants will have items shipped to them. They’re then supposed to photograph the items before repackaging the items and sending them overseas. We’re guessing that scammers are using the Secret Santa ploy to appeal to our generosity.

    The reshipping scam is potentially one of the most damaging scams to its victims for the sole reason that even if the victim is an unwitting participant, it could land them in jail. The items that the scammers send to the reshippers are often either stolen or purchased with stolen financial information. If a reshipper were to falsify shipping documents under the instruction of the scammers to get around US customs they could potentially face jail time.

    Another pitfall to the reshipping scam is that the reshippers are often paid with phony funds. Often, the scammers will send a fake or stolen check to the reshipper as payment. The scammers will tell the reshipper to use the phony check to buy supplies and keep a big part of the check as payment. The scammers will then ask for some of the difference back. Once the bank discovers the check is phony, the reshipper would be responsible for the full amount of the check.

    If you think you may be a victim in a reshipping scam there are steps you can take. If you’ve already received items don’t mail them. Instead, contact the USPS Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    More COVID vaccine scams are on their way 

    More COVID vaccine scams are on their way

    We’ve already posted about scams that are expected to follow the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Even more scams are now expected if they haven’t started already.

    These scams will be relatively easy to avoid if you keep one piece of information in mind. As of this posting, the vaccine can not be purchased, online or otherwise. According to the website of the Centers for Disease Control, vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. In essence, the vaccine is free outside of a small provider fee.

    However, that won’t be stopping the scammers from trying to use the fear of the virus to get you to buy vaccines they don’t really have. According to reports, scammers will be sending out phishing emails stressing how urgent it is that you should get the vaccine. These emails could look like they’re coming from legitimate organizations like the CDC, Medicare, or even your own medical provider’s office.

    As with most phishing emails, the scammers are trying to get you to click on a link contained in the email. The link will likely do one of two things. It will either take you to a fake but legitimate-looking website that asks you for personal or payment information. Or it will inject some type of malware onto your device. If you give out your information, that could lead to identity theft and fraudulent purchases. If you allow malware onto your device, that could lead to your device being scanned for your information or it could be remotely held hostage with some ransomware.

    We know it sounds cliche, but literally, we are all in this together. We will all have the opportunity to be vaccinated against this destructive disease that has taken so many lives. If we’re all patient and work together, we could beat this virus before we know it.

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