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  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    What do debt collectors and scammers have in common? 

    What do debt collectors and scammers have in common?

    By Greg Collier

    These days, debt collectors seem to be an unavoidable fact of life. Some people just aren’t financially able to pay some bills like medical expenses. Some others even go out of their way to avoid paying any debt in their name. Even people with perfect credit sometimes miss a relatively small payment or an unclaimed debt seems to slip through the cracks. Anyway you look at it, most of us will end up dealing with a debt collector at some time or another. While legitimate debt collectors aren’t scammers, they do employ some of the same tactics that scammers use.

    Just like scammers, debt collectors will try to pressure you into a making a payment right then and there. First, you have a right to know when and where the debt came from. The collection agency might not have this information, since they may have bought the debt from someone else. At this point, you should ask for a debt verification letter that will detail where the debt supposedly came from. You’ll also want to check with your state to see when the statute of limitations on debt is. If the collection agency is asking you to pay a debt that’s older than the statute of limitations, if you start paying on that debt it starts the statute of limitations over again.

    If a debt collector threatens to have you arrested or garnish your wages, they are breaking the law. Unfortunately, this does not stop some debt collectors from using this tactic. This is a trick used to go after people with debt that the collection agency doesn’t plan on actually taking legal action against.

    If you receive repeated calls from a debt collector, you should look into your state’s laws concerning debt collection harassment as well. Just because someone may owe a debt doesn’t mean they should be treated as a second class citizen.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    How one grandparent scam worked 

    By Greg Collier

    Three people from the East Coast were recently arrested in Tennessee for allegedly running a grandparent scam ring. Their arrests give us an insight into one of the ways the grandparent scam works in taking advantage of senior citizens. In a nutshell, the grandparent scam is when a scammer calls an elderly person posing as one of their grandchildren. The fake grandchild will say they’re in some kind of trouble and need money, and will instruct the victim not to tell anyone else. This is the basic premise of the grandparent scam, but as we’re about to find out, there are different variations of the heart of the scam.

    The three suspects who were arrested in Tennessee are all said to have traveled from the East Coast. This leads us to believe that they may have traveled from region to region committing scams along the way, as many scam rings do. Instead of posing as the victims’ grandchildren, these scammers were said to pose as bail bond agents. They would then say that one of the victims grandchildren had been arrested and needed bond money. The local police who arrested the suspects said that the suspects were very methodical in studying their victims to where they actually knew the grandchildren’s names. The scammers are said to even have acted as their own couriers, going to pick up the money from the victims themselves. Some victims came forward to police, which is what is believed to have led to the suspects’ arrests.

    While the police said that the scammers were methodical in researching their victims, it’s not hard to imagine where the scammers got their information. More than likely, they gleamed their information from social media. It’s natural for people to be proud of their relatives and share that information, however, that information is often made public online and can be used in scams like this. You may want to think about making your social media profiles set to friends or family only.

    If you do receive a phone call like this, don’t react right away. If your grandchild were to be in some kind of legal trouble, they’re not going to be in more trouble if you verify their story. Also, while it may be difficult in the moment, try not to give out any of your grandchildren’s names on the call. If the caller says “Grandma”, ask who it is first. Often these scammers don’t have your grandchild’s name. Call other family members or the person directly to make sure they’re ok, then contact your local police.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , paving scam,   

    Victim gives gun to paving scammers 

    Victim gives gun to paving scammers

    By Greg Collier

    This time of year is the season for paving and contracting scammers. In many parts of the country, these scammers will go from town to town offering home or driveway repair services for relatively cheap prices. They usually offer their services by driving up to someone’s home unsolicited. Often, the scammers will say they have leftover materials from a previous job and that’s why the price appears to be so low, at first. More often than not, the scammers will either leave the work unfinished, or they’ll demand a much higher price than initially offered. Then the scammers can get very intimidating if you don’t have the money to pay them as one victim recently found out.

    A widow from Virginia fell victim to just such a group of scammers. They pulled up to her home, stating they had asphalt left over from a previous job, and gave her a low price per square foot for repaving her driveway. However, they wouldn’t give her an exact quote. After they finished the driveway, they told the woman that the total fee was $7,000. The woman didn’t have this kind of money, and the scammers started pressuring her into considering things like going to the bank to take out a loan or selling some of her personal belongings. At one point, the scammers are said to have wanted to take her dog as partial payment. She eventually gave them $2,000 and a gun that she owned, which they accepted. Police are currently investigating.

    No real contractor or paver will ever drive up to someone’s home unannounced with leftover building materials. The trucks these scammers drive are usually unmarked and could have out of state license plates. Even if you’re in the market to have home repairs done, always get a quote from any contractor you deal with. It’s also best to make sure they’re licensed in the state you reside. If they say they’re licensed but don’t say where, that could be an indication of a scam. Lastly, if you interact with one of these scammers, you may want to call your local police at the non-emergency number to let them know there are potential scammers in your area.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amber Alert, Manchester, New Hampshire, ,   

    Virtual kidnapping scam triggers Amber Alert 

    Police doing fine without Backpage

    By Greg Collier

    Virtual kidnapping scams are one of the more frightening scams that we discuss. If you’re unaware of how the scam works, you could be ticked into believing that a family member or loved one is in grave danger. The con, of course, is to get you to pay a ransom even though the person who was supposedly kidnapped is fine and isn’t aware of what’s going on. Recently, we posted a story about how a virtual kidnapping call resulted in a potentially volatile situation between the victim and a SWAT team. So, while the supposed kidnapping victim is safe, the scam victim could have their well-being put in jeopardy.

    One such incident recently happened in Manchester, New Hampshire. A victim received a phone call saying that a woman they knew had been kidnapped. In reality, that woman was away from home with her 4-year-old son. While the details are unclear, this resulted in the Manchester police issuing a statewide Amber Alert for both the mother and child. Part of the alert was a description of the woman’s car. The pair was found unharmed, and the mother was completely unaware of what had transpired. She had to have been shaken up when she was informed of the Amber Alert. Incidents like can end up leaving all victims involved with lasting trauma.

    When we first started posting about virtual kidnapping scams, we came across a piece of information that was relayed by law enforcement that we like to remind our readers with these stories. Kidnapping for ransom is very rare in the United States. It seems like it would happen more due to the number of times it appears in TV shows and movies.

    If you ever receive one of these calls, stay on the call, but try to get in touch with the person the scammers have claimed to have kidnapped. Ask to speak to the person they’re claiming to hold hostage and ask them a question that only they would know. You should also be suspicious if they try to get you to make the ransom payment through gift cards or money transfers.

    Since this scam keeps finding victims and the situations involved are starting to get out of hand, we ask that you please share this story or any virtual kidnapping story with your friends and family. The more people who know about the scam, scammers will find fewer victims.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baltimore, , , ,   

    Utility scammers using new cryptocurrency tactic 

    Utility scammers using new cryptocurrency tactic

    By Greg Collier

    Utility scams have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic last year and according to most reports, they’re incredibly effective. If you haven’t heard of the utility scam, it’s when a scammer calls you up posing as a local utility company, usually your local power company. They’ll tell you that your bill is past due and if you don’t make a payment right away, your service will be shut off that day. They’ll then ask for payment in some untraceable form like a pre-paid debit card, gift cards, or through a money transfer service. Now, some utility scammers are taking their victims’ money through cryptocurrency and making the victims do all the legwork as well.

    With the rising popularity of cryptocurrency came the advent of cryptocurrency ATMs. These public kiosks not only allow someone to buy and sell cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, but they can also send Bitcoin to another person. In Baltimore, the local power company has seen a substantial uptick in their customers falling for the utility scam. However, in a new twist on the utility scam, the scammers are directing their victims to make the phony payments through Bitcoin ATMs located throughout the city. One local business owner was taken for $1,000 in a recent utility scam. Due to the fact that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are decentralized and largely unregulated, once that money is gone, there’s usually no getting it back.

    Even if you are behind on your utility bill, the utility company will send you several notices in the mail before terminating any service. They will not call you and threaten you with immediate termination. They won’t ask for payment in nontraditional means, either. Requests for payment in gift cards, prepaid debit cards, money transfers, and cryptocurrency should be a dead giveaway that you’re not dealing with the actual utility company.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Why does this online shopping scam send the wrong items? 

    Why does this online shopping scam send the wrong items?

    By Greg Collier

    Most shoppers are always looking for a good bargain. No one wants to pay more money than they have to. Sometimes we see a bargain that’s so tempting it’s almost impossible to pass up, and we forget the golden rule of online shopping. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s what online scammers are hoping anyway. These scammers set up legitimate-looking websites that pretend to sell items at cut rate prices. However, what you order isn’t always what you get.

    For example, a man in Tennessee wanted to buy a greenhouse for his wife’s garden. The advertised price of the greenhouse was around $25. Comparable greenhouses typically go for around $150-$200. That’s a price cut of over 85%. Instead of getting a greenhouse, he was shipped a pair of gardening gloves that probably cost less than a dollar to produce.

    Similarly, a woman from Ohio ordered a space heater from one of these scam websites. The item was 1/3 the price than it was on Amazon. She even did her research to make sure that the website was based in the US and not overseas. Her research showed that the website was based in Marietta, Georgia. So she ordered the heater and received a straw hat instead.

    The scammers send these cheap items instead of the actual goods to fight order disputes. When the victim tries to dispute the charges, the scammers just say that an item was delivered. For too many payment processors, this is a good enough reason to rule in the scammer’s favor. You might be able to fight the charges if you used a credit card, but if you used a debit card or a payment service like PayPal, there’s a good chance you’ll never see that money again.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Google Voice scam affects online sellers 

    Google Voice scam affects online sellers

    By Greg Collier

    Google Voice is a pretty useful app to have. If you sign up for Google Voice, it allows you to have a second phone number for free. If you use it normally, the Google Voice number will ring your current number. However, you can also set it to do not disturb mode, calls to your Google Voice number will go straight to voicemail. One of its best uses is to use as nuisance avoidance. If someone wants your phone number, and you prefer not to trust them with your actual number, you can give them your Google Voice number instead.

    For some of the same reasons, scammers love Google Voice. The problem for scammers is they don’t want the Google Voice number tied to their own phone number. Instead, the scammers will try to trick a victim into have the Google Voice number tied to the victim’s number. This happened recently to a woman who was trying to sell something online.

    In her ad, she had her actual phone number listed. She received a call from someone posing as a buyer. When the woman tried to set up a meeting arrangement, the buyer said that they were going to send the woman a Google Voice code to verify that the woman’s listing was legitimate. The buyer kept asking the woman for the code that was sent, but the woman felt like she was being scammed and did not give the code to the scammer.

    If she had given the scammer the code, the scammers would have been able to sign up for a Google Voice number that would have been tied to the woman’s phone number. The scammers could have used the Google Voice number to commit more scams and if anyone looked into the number, it would have traced back to the victim.

    If someone you don’t know asks for a code that was sent to your phone, there’s a good chance that it’s an authorization code that scammers can use to wreak all sorts of havoc. They can be trying to get you to turn your bank account over to them, or you could be giving them access to any one of your online accounts.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Brushing scams return in time for Prime Day 

    Brushing scams return in time for Prime Day

    By Greg Collier

    Amazon’s popular Prime Day promotion starts today. Prime Day has gotten so popular that other major retailers have started their own version of Prime Day to compete with Amazon’s industry-leading sale. While these online sales could be a great value for consumers, they could also be a great burden for some. According to reports, one of the more annoying scams has been making the rounds again just in time for Prime Day.

    Of course, we’re talking about the brushing scam. The brushing scam is when you get sent packages to your home of things you didn’t order. Usually, these packages come from Amazon and contain low-cost items. This is done so third-party vendors that sell through Amazon can give themselves good online reviews in your name, and the review shows up on Amazon as a verified purchase, giving the phony review more legitimacy. In turn, this leads to these products being recommended more often by Amazon. One family in New York State recently received thousands of face mask brackets that they didn’t order. They received so many that the boxes were piled higher than their front door.

    While you may think it’s great to be getting free stuff, the brushing scam could have longer lasting results. If you receive unsolicited packages like this, it could mean that your Amazon, or other retailer, account could be compromised. It’s recommended that you check your account for any unauthorized purchases and to change your account password. It could also mean that your identity was part of a data leak, which is where scammers often get the information about their victims. Also, you should keep an eye on your credit, as brushing scammers could potentially have your financial information as well.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    House keys do not make a landlord 

    House keys do not make a landlord

    By Greg Collier

    A man from the Triangle area of North Carolina recently found himself out of $4000 after falling victim to a rental scam on Craigslist. He was looking for a property to rent for his family and found one for $900 a month. That is believed to be below current market value at the time of this posting. Thinking that he had found a great bargain, the man texted the supposed owner of the home and was asked about his work history, his previous rental history and whether or not he had any pets. Sounds legit so far, right?

    The man was then asked to send a copy of his driver’s license and a selfie. The man was then told by the ‘landlord’ that the landlord will send him the combination to the lockbox so the man could get the key and tour the home. The man ended up paying a $1800 deposit when the scammer offered an even better deal. The scammer told the man that if he paid two months rent up front, the third month would be free. The man sent the scammer another $2000.

    As you can probably surmise, when the man went to move his family in, another family had already settled into the home. So, you might be wondering how the scammer was able to get the combination to the home’s lockbox. All the scammer needs to do is call the legitimate realtor and tell them that they want to tour the home. Once he gets the combination from the realtor, he gives it to the victim.

    All of the communications between the victim and the scammer were done through text and email. If a property owner, landlord, etc. doesn’t meet you in person, the odds are pretty good that you’re being scammed. Before putting any money down on a rental home, check with the county to make sure who actually owns the property and who is renting it, as many craigslist rental ads are just copied from legitimate real estate listings.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Victim refuses to believe they’re being scammed 

    Victim refuses to believe they're being scammed

    By Greg Collier

    What can you do when someone you know is caught up in the middle of a scam, and they refuse to believe they’re being scammed. That’s the question that a community in Central Florida is currently struggling with. One of their neighbors is a 91-year-old woman who believes she won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. She received a phone call last year telling her that she had won $10 million. Since then, the scammers have continuously strung this woman along into making payments under the guise of taxes she needs to pay on her prize.

    Neighbors estimate that she’s paid at least $150,000 to these scammers. The woman is also said to have no cognitive disabilities, but just refuses to believe any evidence that she’s being scammed. It got to the point where she not only sold her car, but also placed her home on the market to try to pay these fictitious taxes for her non-existent prize. Her neighbors have reached out to police and the state Attorney General’s office, who both say they’re investigating the matter. One neighbor even contacted the woman’s bank to make them aware of possible fraud from the scammers.

    Some retirees love to play the lottery and enter sweepstakes as a form of entertainment. So, it’s very likely that the woman did enter the sweepstakes she believes she won. However., it’s illegal in the US for any sweepstakes to ask for money in exchange for prizes. Any legitimate sweepstakes will tell you that no purchase is necessary. The Better Business Bureau has said that sweepstakes scams claimed more money from victims than any other scam in 2020 according to the complaints they’ve received.

    If you know someone who you think might be vulnerable to this scam, please let them know that it’s illegal to make someone pay for a sweepstakes prize.

     
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