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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Bail bond scam adds insult to injury 

    Bail bond scam adds insult to injury

    By Greg Collier

    Getting a phone call telling you that a loved one has been arrested can be one of the most harrowing experiences you can possibly have. For people in lower-income families, this is especially true, as it puts another financial burden on an already overburdened family. Even the most minor of offenses can set a family back months when it comes to paying the bills. Now imagine getting that call and losing the money you scraped up for bail to scammers.

    If you’re a regular reader, you may think we’re talking about the grandparent scam once again. That’s where scammers pose as a loved one pretending to be in jail and ask for bail money. However, this time, we’re talking about a different scam where the loved one has been actually arrested. In Florida, a man had been arrested for DUI. Since most arrests are publicly available information, scammers called the man’s mother, posing as a bail bonds agency. The scammers told the woman that her son told them to call her and that she needed to pay $900 to bail out her son. The payment was requested in prepaid debit cards. When the woman went to get her son out of jail, she discovered that the bail bonds agency didn’t even exist. She had to go to another bail bondsman to get her son out of jail.

    No matter what you may think of this man’s alleged crime, a family doesn’t need to be victimized like this during what is potentially one of their lowest points. While your family may never have to experience something like this, it’s still better to know what to actually do in such a situation. Keep in mind that bail cannot be paid over the phone, and no bail bondsman will ever call you to make a payment. Your loved one will not receive extra time in jail or further punishment if you take your time to verify their story. Lastly, always work with a licensed bail bondsman. Anyone can call, claiming there a bondsman, but do your research before committing any money.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gulf Coast, hurricane, hurricane ida, , ,   

    Price gouging, a concern in wake of hurricane 

    By Greg Collier

    With Hurricane Ida touching down in Louisiana, states of emergency have been declared in several Gulf Coast states. Typically, when a state of emergency is declared, laws go into effect that are designed to prevent price gouging. This is when vendors overcharge for products or services in order to maximize profit during a crisis. Historically, you might have seen gas stations and motels charging outlandish prices leading up to or in the wake of a hurricane. Some hardware and grocery stores have also been offenders of this practice in the past.

    Thanks to consumer protection laws in most storm-prone states, price gouging isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be. That’s not to say it still doesn’t happen. For example, if you were to travel to a state that’s not in a state of emergency to ride out the storm, you might encounter price gouging in the safe location. That’s also not to say that some vendors in the emergency areas won’t defy state law and try to gouge customers anyway.

    If you do happen to encounter price gouging, be sure to document it as well as you can. You can then report it to either the local police or the state’s Attorney General’s office. Some states even have price gouging hotlines that you can call if you’ve been victimized by a vendor. A quick web search should show you where price gouging can be reported in your area.

    We hope everyone who is living in the affected storm areas stays safe.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Vance County   

    County Sheriff fooled by scam 

    County Sheriff fooled by scam

    By Greg Collier

    We often try to warn our readers that anybody can fall for the right scam. Your education and socioeconomic status don’t matter when it comes to con artists. You could be a CEO with a PhD raking in billions of dollars and still fall prey to a virtual kidnapping or romance scam. You could be a CPA and fall for the fake check scam. We’ve even discussed a time when someone from the Better Business Bureau, whose job it is to warn about scams, falling victim to a banking scam. Everybody has a scam with their name on it. If the circumstances are just right for the scammer, just about anybody can be fooled.

    This is exactly what happened to the County Sheriff of Vance County in North Carolina. Vance County is part of the greater Raleigh-Durham metro area, so we’re not talking about some remote and rural county. The Sheriff was at the hospital where his wife was recovering from a major surgery when he received a phone call that was supposedly from his electric company. They told the Sheriff that he was behind on his account and if he didn’t make a payment right then and there, the electric company was going to turn off his power in 30 to 45 minutes.

    Besides being concerned about his wife, the Sheriff was also worried about his dog who was at the house, and the Sheriff didn’t want his dog to fall victim to the extreme Carolina summer heat. With everything that was on his mind, the Sheriff gave the caller his credit card number to ensure that the power going to his home wouldn’t be turned off. It wasn’t until later when the Sheriff was able to gather his thoughts that he realized he had been scammed. He was able to cancel his credit card before the scammers could do anything with it. Thankfully, the Sheriff’s wife is said to be recovering nicely.

    The Sheriff went on to say that because the situation was so stressful, it made him vulnerable to the scam. He added that he’s been warning county residents for years about such scams and wanted his residents to learn from his mistakes and not fall for the scam.

    The majority of power companies in the United States, if not all of them, will not call you to threaten you with termination of service for failure to pay. You’ll receive written statements in the mail letting you know that your account is past due. In the case that someone is unfortunate enough not to be able to make payment, you’ll also receive a written statement letting you know when your power is scheduled to be turned off.

    Again, it only takes a moment for scammers to fool even the most wary of us. Even if it’s an extremely stressful situation, which scammers thrive on, try to take a moment to step back and logically assess the situation before making any kind of payment.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: deeds, Donda, Kanye West, , , , unclaimed reward,   

    Scam Round Up: House Deeds, Kanye, and more 

    Scam Round Up: House Titles, Kanye, and more

    By Greg Collier

    We’re back again with a handful of scams that may require your attention. This week, we’re bringing you four scams that have popped up around the country.

    ***

    If you own a home, and you want a copy of your home’s deed, you shouldn’t have to pay to get it. In most counties, you can get a copy of your deed for free at your county’s Register of Deeds’ office, or your county’s equivalent. If there is any cost attached to obtaining your deed, it should only be for the copier and not cost $95. In Tennessee, residents have been receiving letters saying they can get their deed for a $95 fee. Deeds are public records, and the scammers wait for changes to be made to them before sending out the letters offering their service. While not necessarily illegal, if you get one of these letters, shred it and toss it in the recycling.

    ***

    We’re not sure how many of are readers are fans of Kanye West, but he’s been teasing a new album drop for a while now. Scammers are quite aware of this and are using the new album to their advantage. Scammers are setting up websites where they claim you can download Kanye’s new album entitled ‘Donda’. As you might expect, the files you end up downloading contain malware, which can do any number of malicious things to your device. As with any popular media, if you’re purchasing it online, stick to reputable distributors like Apple and Amazon and avoid the shady bootleg sites.

    ***

    Police in Hillsboro, Texas have reported a significant increase in virtual kidnapping calls. Residents there have been receiving phone calls that tell them a loved one has been kidnapped. They’re then instructed to go to Walmart to await further instructions. The scammers will then have the victim send the ‘ransom’ through a money transfer service like MoneyGram that is untraceable once the scammers have their money. If you ever receive a call like this, try not to panic. Instead, reach out to the supposed kidnap victim, and you’ll probably find that they’re ok. You should also notify your local police as well.

    ***

    Lastly, from North Carolina, we have a scam where a man received a letter in the mail that said he had an ‘unclaimed reward’ that was worth $100. The man called the number in the letter and was asked to confirm his identity. He was then asked for his credit card number to pay to have the reward shipped. Thankfully, the man didn’t fall for the scam, but it only takes a handful of people to fall for the scam before it becomes profitable for the scammer.

    ***

    The more people are aware of scams like these, the better prepared they are to prevent them. Please consider sharing this and any of our posts with your friends and family.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , military family, ,   

    Military families are often targets of scammers 

    Military families are often targets of scammers

    By Greg Collier

    When we think of scamming victims, we often think of the elderly without a lot of online knowledge or maybe young people with not a lot of real-world experience. Who we may not think of is the immediate family of military members, specifically their spouses. While our men and women of the armed forces are being deployed, it’s up to their spouses to keep everything running as smoothly as possible on the home front. This is made even more difficult if the family has any children. Because a military spouse may be spending a lot of time at home without their partner, it could leave them vulnerable to various scammers.

    For example, the wife of a deployed soldier in Alaska recently found herself the victim of a work at home scam. She was looking to earn extra income for the family and looked online for a position that would allow her to stay home with her children. She found a position in a local Facebook group that ticked all the right boxes. It was an online work from home job that started at $15/hr where you could set your own hours and work would be available for 45 hours a week. After training, the salary would be increased to $20/hr.

    The victim was then sent a check, so she could order supplies. She was given a list of supplies to order and where to order them from. She was told to deposit the check in her own account and when she voiced her concerns about that she was told that this was standard practice.

    The check turned out to be fraudulent after she had spent the money. The family’s bank account was then locked, and now the family finds themselves in $15,000 debt to the bank.

    Please keep in mind that no legitimate employer will ever ask you to deposit company funds into your own bank account. Real employers have accounting and purchasing departments to handle such transactions. If an online employer asks you to deposit a check for business purposes, it’s almost guaranteed that the check is fake.

    This is only one of many scams that military families are vulnerable to. A good rule of thumb not just for military families but for all of us is not to send or receive money from anyone you don’t know.

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

    New moving scam dumps your belongings 

    By Greg Collier

    It wasn’t too long ago that we discussed a moving scam that was taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina. In that scam, illegal moving companies would pack up a person’s belongings, but instead of delivering them to their destination, the con artists would hold the belongings hostage under the pretense of needing additional fees. Now, a similar scam has appeared in the Seattle area, but it seems that the scammers are more interested in quick cash than a long con.

    A woman in King County, Washington was recently taken in one of these scams. She was moving some of her items to another property in Austin, Texas. She had enlisted the services of a moving broker, bur right as she was about to board her flight to Austin, the broker switched to a new moving company. The woman had previously paid the movers with a cashier’s check. The woman arrived in Austin, but her belongings never did. Both the movers and the broker would give excuses before cutting off all contact with her.

    King County Sheriffs believe that her belongings may have been abandoned in a storage unit somewhere in the area. This gives the thieves the opportunity to dump their cargo, so they can immediately move on to another victim. Rather than extortion or trying to sell stolen goods, the illegal movers seem to be more interested in getting the payment more than anything. They tend to ask for payment in cash or cashier’s checks, so the money is virtually untraceable.

    Moving brokers may offer convenience in helping find a moving company, but they can also be just another fly-by-night company. If you’re going to use a broker, make sure they’re registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the US Department of Transportation. Also, you should only use movers that are also registered with the FMCSA.

    If a company gives you an estimate sight unseen, they may also be trying to scam you. Always get at least three estimates from three different movers and get them in writing. Never make payment in full upfront, and make sure that the movers provide full-value protection insurance. Lastly, if anything feels out of the ordinary with your movers, don’t be afraid to go with another company.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Don’t answer this question from grandparent scammers! 

    Don't answer this question from grandparent scammers

    By Greg Collier

    Several counties in Upstate New York have reported an increase in the number of grandparent scams that are happening in their area. The grandparent scam is probably one of the most prevalent scams going today and often targets elderly individuals who are living alone, taking them for sometimes thousands of dollars at a time.

    You may well be familiar with the grandparent scam since we discuss it so often, but for new readers, here is a quick recap. This is when scammers will pose as the victim’s grandchild, claiming that they’re in some kind of legal trouble and need money sent to them right away. Usually, the claim is that the grandchild is in jail and needs bail money. IN variations of the scam, scammers will pose as bail bondsmen or police officers. Payment will be asked for, usually in cash or gift cards, since they’re virtually untraceable.

    The news report from New York goes over the usual steps on how to prevent falling for the grandparent scam, such as having a family code word or asking the supposed grandchild a question only they would know. However, the article also gave us one more way of protecting yourself, and it’s a simple one. Often, but not always, the scammer will open the phone call with “Do you know who this is?”. This way, they’re hoping that the victim volunteers the name of a grandchild. Then, the scammers can use the grandchild’s name to establish a fake emotional bond between the scammer and the victim.

    Still, the best way to prevent an elderly friend or relative from falling victim to the grandparent scam is education. If you know someone who may be vulnerable to such a scam, please consider sharing this blog post with them or any one of the news articles that have reported on it.

     
  • Geebo 8:04 am on August 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Millions of customers exposed in phone carrier data breach 

    By Greg Collier

    It seems like it’s been a while since we’ve heard of a massive data breach, and believe us when we say this one is massive. T-Mobile is one of the largest cell phone providers in the United States. They recently announced that a data breach took place that exposed the data of around 40 million customers. We’re talking about a lot of vital information, too.

    According to T-Mobile themselves, the data breach included Social Security numbers, birthdates, names and driver license information. However, T-Mobile has also pointed out that the breach did not include credit card or payment information. If that’s what they’re patting themselves on the back for, they may want to rein it in for a moment.

    A lot of potential damage can be done to anyone’s identity if an identity thief has just one of the items exposed. But if they have your Social Security number, your driver’s license info, and your date of birth, that’s like having a skeleton key to your entire life.

    If you’re a T-Mobile customer, it is recommended that you change your account password and PIN. It’s also recommended that you put a freeze on your credit, which is a free service. You would need to contact each of the three major credit bureaus to do so. This would prevent any identity thieves from opening credit in your name. T-Mobile is also offering a free 2-year credit protection service as well.

    The one thing you shouldn’t do if you’re a T-Mobile customer is to ignore the problem, as it has the potential to damage not only your credit, but your personal finances as well. Don’t let someone else’s actions negatively impact your financial well-being.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , earthquake, haiti, ,   

    Warning issued over disaster relief scams 

    Warning issued over disaster relief scams

    By Greg Collier

    If you’ve been following the news recently, you might have heard about the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The earthquake left close to 2,000 victims dead, with thousands more displaced. And this was after the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Grace. You might be moved to make a charitable donation to help the disaster relief, but as usual, scammers are looking to take advantage of the plight of the Haitians for their own personal gain. So, you can’t just donate to any charity that comes along claiming to help the Haiti disaster.

    The Florida Attorney General’s office has issued a warning about charity scams related to the earthquake. While the scams haven’t appeared yet, the Florida Attorney General expects them to descend on Florida due to their large Haitian population. However, it will probably also start spreading outside of the Sunshine State.

    You should avoid donating to any charity that has a vague name like ‘Disaster Relief Fund’. Charities that solicit you out of the blue by using robocalls or mass emails could be suspect as well.

    If you want to make a meaningful donation, there are ways to check to make sure the charity you’re donating to is legitimate. For example, there are websites like Charity Navigator and Give.org that can let you which charities are for real and which ones aren’t. You can also check to see if a charity is registered with the IRS.

    As with most scams, if you’re contacted out of the blue, do not give any personal or financial information to whoever is contacting you. Also, be careful of any crowdfunding campaign that is being run by anonymous or unknown individuals.

    The people of Haiti deserve our help, and your contribution shouldn’t go into the pockets of a scammer.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , pet sitting, , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Pet sitting, Bitcoin, and Magazines 

    By Greg Collier

    Today, we’re bringing you another trio of scams that warrant your attention. This week, we have three scams that variants of other scams we’ve discussed.

    If you’re in college, or have a child in college, the Better Business Bureau is warning about a particular job scam. It appears that in both Florida and New York, college students are being offered part -time pet-sitting jobs for a pretty good wage. However, this is just a ruse to send the college student a fake check as payment. The students will be told to deposit the check, purchase some supplies, and return a portion of the check. While the bank will honor the deposit at first, they will eventually determine it’s fake and put the financial burden on the student since they were the one that deposited the check.

    ***

    In Northern Ohio, authorities there are reporting victims there are falling for a Bitcoin scam, but it’s more like the police impersonation scam. The scammers are posing as federal investigators who tell the victims that someone in Texas near the Mexican border has rented a car in the victim’s name and a large cache of illegal drugs were found in the car. In order to avoid arrest, the victim is told to pay a substantial amount of money. Previously, the scammers would have victims mail cash or buy gift cards. In this case, the scammers are instructing victims to make payments through Bitcoin ATMs, which we’ve previously discussed here. No law enforcement agency is ever going to threaten you with arrest if you don’t make a payment in cryptocurrency or other untraceable means of payment like gift cards.

    ***

    Lastly, in Rhode Island, an alert FedEx clerk saved a man from falling for a scam that could have cost the victim thousands of dollars. When the clerk asked about the man’s shipment, the man claimed it had $500 worth of old magazines in it. The clerk was suspicious and was worried that the man was being scammed. With a manager’s approval, the clerk opened the package and there was $15,000 worth of cash inside. While the news report doesn’t say what kind of scam the man had almost fallen for, the man said that he was promised a bigger payout if he mailed the cash. This sounds an awful lot like an advanced fee scam or sweepstakes scam where that victim was told to send cash intertwined in the pages of magazines. Remember, that you don’t have to pay any fees for a prize like that. Taxes for such prizes are usually figured out later.

    ***

    Hopefully, these scams don’t come to your area, but now you’ll be prepared if they do.

     
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