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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    How to handle multiple rental listings of the same address 

    By Greg Collier

    While most of us have our minds on the holidays, there are still those who are in the market for a new home. Many of them are looking to rent and there are many pitfalls they need to avoid, so they won’t be scammed.

    More often than not, rental scammers will copy the legitimate listing from one platform and post it on another. The only things they’ll usually change are the contact information and the amount of the rent. Scammers will always advertise a much lower rent than the legitimate listing. As you might suspect, this is done to try to attract more attention to their ad than the legitimate ad, even though both ads list the same address.

    Unfortunately, this is a pretty strong strategy for the scammers. Even when the prospective renter has read both ads, they’ll often treat the one with the lower rent price as the legitimate one. When pressed about the multiple listings, the scammers will say something to the effect of they’re no longer renting through that realtor. However, in some instances, the scammers will just imitate the actual owner online.

    That’s what happened to a North Carolina landlord who was renting a property on Zillow. The scammer copied her listing word for word and even used her name in their listing. To lure in victims, the scammers posted a rent price that was $200 lower than the actual price and claimed that the property was friendly for cats and large dogs. The scammers were asking victims to wire them $4500 as a deposit.

    If you come across multiple listings for the same property on different platforms, there are steps you can take to avoid being scammed. In most cases, the listing with the highest rent is going to be the legitimate one, although that’s not a guarantee. If one of the landlords only wants to communicate through text messages, that’s a good indicator they could be a scammer. Also, if you’re being asked to make a deposit through money transfer or a payment app like Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App, it’s likely to be a scam.

    As always, we recommend going to the county’s tax assessor’s office or website. At either, you should be able to find out who the true owner of the property is and hopefully avoid all scammers.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Job scam wants your Facebook login and more 

    Scam Round Up: Job scam wants your Facebook login and more

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re thinking of sending money to relatives as a gift this holiday season, you may want to reconsider writing a check. Once again, scammers are stealing mail from mailboxes in hopes of finding a handwritten check. In a process called check washing, scammers can soak the check in chemicals that will remove the ink from a handwritten check. The scammers will then write the check for any amount they please before cashing it.

    To better protect yourself from this scam, mail any checks you may be sending inside the post office itself. This goes a long way in preventing the mail from being stolen. There are also special pens you can purchase that are resistant to the check washing chemicals.


    The Federal Trade Commission has issued an alert warning taxpayers about a refund scam. According to the FTC, scammers have been sending out text messages claiming you’re eligible for a ‘tax rebate’or some other kind of payment from the IRS. As with most text messaging scams, the messages contain a link for the recipient to click on to get their supposed refund. Clicking on the link could have devastating consequences as it could either ask you for personal or financial information, leading to identity theft, or it could inject malware into your phone.

    Just keep in mind that the IRS is never going to initiate contact with a taxpayer through text messages. If there is any kind of issue concerning your federal taxes, you will receive a notice in the mail before anything else.


    A woman from Missouri was almost scammed out of her Facebook account while applying for a job online. A friend of a friend had posted a job ad on his Facebook page. While interviewing for the job, she was told that she was being interviewed by the company’s founder and CEO. All the interviews took place through messaging apps like Messenger and Google Chat. The phony CEO asked the woman for a copy of her driver’s license and Social Security card, which may not seem unusual. However, she was also asked for her Facebook login information. Thankfully, she realized this was a scam and cut off contact with the scammer.

    While there have been stories in the past about employers asking for employees’ Facebook logins, those are rare exceptions and not the norm. This seems like the scammers wanted her personal information to hijack her Facebook account and use it for additional scams. Having her personal information might allow them to claim that they are the actual owners of the Facebook account. The acquaintance’s account was more than likely hijacked by the scammers.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Why do Zelle scam victims only get repaid after talking to the media? 

    Why do Zelle scam victims only get repaid after talking to the media?

    By Greg Collier

    It’s been more than a year now since the Zelle scam started garnering headlines. In that time, it doesn’t seem like Zelle’s parent company has done much in the way of protecting its users. If you’ll recall, Zelle is owned by a company ironically called Early Warning Systems. In turn, EWS is owned by Bank of America, Truist, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. You’d think between these banking heavy hitters, they’d be able to come up with a way to discourage scammers, yet here we are.

    While there are many scams that have plagued Zelle in the past year or so, we’re referring to the one where scammers pose as your bank. In this scam, victims receive a text message that asks them if they’ve made a large purchase or transfer recently. The victim is asked to respond with either a yes or no. Once the victim responds, the text message is followed up with a phone call. Posing as the victim’s bank’s fraud department, the scammers will direct the victim to either move their money or ‘pay themselves’ through Zelle to protect their bank account. What’s really happening is the scammers are walking the victim through the process of sending money to the scammers through Zelle.

    The banks, such as the ones listed above, have not been consumer-friendly when it comes to helping customers who have been scammed. Typically, these banks throw up their hands and say there’s nothing they can do. Instead, they claim since the victim authorized the transfer, even under false pretenses, the bank is under no obligation to refund the victim’s money.

    However, as we have shown, some victims have gotten their money back, but only after going to their local media. That’s exactly what happened to a family from Northern California when they fell victim to the Zelle scam. They were saving money for their daughter, who is disabled and training to be a para-equestrian. Initially, US Bank said there was no fraud, and there was nothing they could do. Then, after sharing their story with a local news station, US Bank mysteriously issued a refund. This begs the question of why do banks seem to only offer refunds when bad PR is involved? Also, what is it going to take for them to put in more safeguards to help prevent these scams?

    Please keep in mind, Zelle is only supposed to be used between friends and family, people you know personally. Any business or stranger that asks you to pay through Zelle could be trying to scam you. Your bank is also never going to ask you to move your money using Zelle.

    If you find yourself becoming a victim to this scam, the first thing you should do is file a police report immediately. While it’s not a guarantee of a refund, it does go a long way in helping. And if you’re not receiving the fair treatment you think you deserve from your bank, don’t be afraid to contact the consumer advocate reporter in your local area.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    ‘Tis the season for ticket scams 

    By Greg Collier

    The rivalry between Ohio State University and the University of Michigan is probably the most storied and heated rivalry in college football. Both teams are set to play each other this weekend in Columbus. Even at this late hour, tickets are still in high demand. That’s why the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio is warning sports fans about ticket scams.

    One of the most prevalent ticket scams are counterfeit tickets. They look and feel like the real thing because they were at one point. Scammers will use stolen credit card information to buy tickets to in-demand events. Once the credit card holder finds out and cancels the charge, it’s too late because the scammer already has a physical ticket.

    At this point, the scammer sells the canceled ticket to an unsuspecting fan. Once the fan shows up to the arena, they’re denied entrance because their ticket has been flagged as being fraudulent. So, not only is the fan out of the money they paid for the ticket, but also traveling and parking expenses too. In some cases, that can add up to thousands of dollars.

    Probably the most common ticket scams is the one where the tickets don’t even exist. Scammers will put up ads online claiming they have tickets and will then ask to be paid through apps like Venmo, Zelle, and Cash App. Once someone pays what the scammer is asking, the scammer will disappear with their money as these app transactions are instant, and the scammers can block you after you pay.

    This doesn’t just apply to sports, either. Any show or event that issues tickets can have the same problems with scammers. To better protect yourself, buy tickets only from authorized sellers and resellers. Use a credit card when possible for buying tickets. Credit cards give you extra protection when making purchases like this.

    Lastly, do not post pictures of your tickets on social media once you get them. This makes it easy for counterfeiters to copy the bar code from your tickets and produce copies they can sell.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Black Friday warning and more 

    Scam Round Up: Black Friday warning and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week in the Scam Round Up, we’re bringing you a reminder of an old scam, a new twist on a persistent scam, and a warning about this year’s holiday shopping season.


    The grandparent scam is still out there and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s becoming almost as common as the arrest warrant scam, which we’ll get to shortly.

    An elderly Florida woman recently lost $16,000 to the grandparent scam. A scammer called her, posing as one of her grandsons, and claimed he needed $50,000 for bail because of a car accident he was in. This scammer hit all the beats, saying he hit a pregnant woman with his car and not to tell anyone else in the family. The victim sent the scammers $16,000, which was all she had in savings. Her family found out when the victim started asking her friends how she could get more money.

    If you have an elderly relative, please let them know about this scam. If you receive a call like this, don’t say the grandchild’s name. This lets scammers know they have a potential victim on the phone. Ask the caller a question that only that person would know, to see if they are who they say they are.


    As we have said on multiple occasions, the arrest warrant scam is probably the most common scam in America. It’s at least the most reported one. Not a day goes by where we don’t see a report from some police department or sheriff’s office warning their residents of this scam.

    Typically, scammers call their victim posing as police while telling their victims they have an arrest warrant out for them. In most cases, the scammers will say the arrest warrant is for missing jury duty.

    More recently, residents of a Chicago suburb started receiving voice mails stating they had arrest warrants. They were then instructed to call a number that did not belong to their local police department.

    It’s unknown what happens when the fake police phone number is called, but all arrest warrant scams are designed to scare the victim into making some kind of payment that will make the warrant magically go away.

    No law enforcement office or agency will ever call you to demand a payment over the phone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up and call your local police at their non-emergency number.


    With Black Friday being this week, scammers will be out in droves trying to separate you from your money. This year, the Better Business Bureau is saying that the scammers will be more inclined to pose as a delivery company like UPS or FedEx than posing as a retailer like Amazon or Apple.

    This means scammers will be sending out texts and emails claiming you missed a delivery, or they need additional information to make the delivery. These messages will contain a link for you to click on. If you click on the link, you could be taken to a phony site that looks like the legitimate one from that delivery service. You’ll then be asked to input your personal information. Sometimes, you’ll be asked for your financial information for a redelivery fee, which isn’t a real thing. The phony website could also inject malware into your device, stealing even more information.

    As always, do not click on links in text messages and emails from people you don’t know personally. If you think there’s a problem with your delivery, go to the retailer’s website, and they’ll have the tracking information.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    The red flags of a rental scam 

    The red flags of a rental scam

    By Greg Collier

    Ever since real estate listings have been available online, there have been real estate scammers. Typically, these scammers pose as landlords who are renting a house. The listings the scammers post are almost always copied from a legitimate real estate listing. A few details such as the rental cost and contact information will be changed. Depending on how far the scammers want to take it, the rental scam could end up costing victims anywhere from a small security deposit, to that plus first and last month’s rent. The scam can also leave victims homeless, as many have moved into homes that weren’t legally rented to them.

    That almost happened to a family from Wichita, Kansas, recently. They found a home for rent that was listed on both Zillow and Facebook Marketplace. The first red flag they encountered was the property was listed for a higher rent price on Zillow than it was on Marketplace. They contacted the seller from Marketplace, hoping they could get a deal.

    The family was asked to pay a $60 application fee to the Marketplace seller through Cash App. They started getting suspicious, but the Marketplace seller assured them this was being done for security reasons.

    After paying the $60, they received an application that was just copied and pasted into an email. The application was lacking important questions that most landlords would need to know. When the family returned the application, the Marketplace seller started hounding them for a $200 security deposit for a property the family hadn’t even seen yet. It was at this point, the family called police, who told them they were being scammed.

    While this incident isn’t a comprehensive detailing of all red flags in a rental scam, it does have the major ones. If you find a rental listing that has two different rental prices, the one with the lower price is more than likely the scam listing. Never make payments to supposed landlords or rental agents using apps like Cash App, Zelle, or Venmo. It’s easy for scammers to take your money and disappear through these apps. Lastly, if a seller is trying to pressure you into making a security payment without seeing the home, there’s a good chance they’re a scammer.

    Moving into a new home is always a big life decision. It should be researched like any other big life moment. Always do a Google search on the home’s address. This could help reveal duplicate listings. If in doubt about who is actually renting the home, check with the county tax assessor’s office or website. The information is free and public and will help you avoid any potential scammers.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    What is the Instagram hostage scam? 

    What is the Instagram hostage scam?

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re a regular reader of our blog, when you hear the words ‘hostage scam’ you may think it has something to do with the virtual kidnapping scam. Or since Instagram is involved, you might think it has something to do with your Instagram account being held hostage by scammers for money. However, it’s really an investment scam that forces its victims to help perpetuate the scam.

    While scrolling through Instagram, you may have come across posts of people claiming they’ve made a lot of money investing in cryptocurrency. If you have, you may have seen a victim from one of these scams. The scam usually starts when an Instagram user sees one of their friends make a post like this. The victim is directed to another Instagram user who can help them have the same financial success in investing.

    In one instance, a woman from Indiana was told by a so-called cryptocurrency expert, if she invested $500, she could multiply that investment. She sent the man $500 and later was told her investment ballooned to $5000. When she tried to get her money, the story took an ominous turn.

    The victim was told that if she wanted her money, she would first need to make a video where she has to say she made money through this investment scheme. This is where the hostage aspect of the scam comes in. Her money was being held hostage until she made the video. She did make such a video, but never received any money and was out her $500. But the story doesn’t end there.

    The video she made was shared by the scammers all over social media. This allowed the scammers to make their scheme appear legitimate, and they were able to lure in more victims. This led to the woman being harassed by other victims of the scam, thinking she was the scammer.

    Social media is not really a place where you should be taking investment advice. Considering how much misinformation is already shared on social media without verification, would you really trust investment plans from there?

    Unless you are already savvy about the ins and outs of cryptocurrency, it really should be avoided as an investment, as a recent crypto crash demonstrates. And as always, no investment is ever guaranteed a return. You should only ever invest money that you can afford to live without. There are no magical get-rich-quick investments.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Postal delivery scam back in time for holidays 

    By Greg Collier

    The delivery scam really never went away. It was insanely popular with scammers during the pandemic, when we were supposed to be sheltering at home. Since then, there have been reports of this scam, but nowhere near as many as during the pandemic. However, with the holiday season on the horizon, this scam has started to pick up steam again.

    Since many of us will be expecting packages delivered to our homes for the holidays, scammers are betting on people being paranoid about the delivery itself. Several regions across the US are reporting an increase in scam text messages that claim to be from the United States Postal Service. These messages say you missed a delivery to your home, or it will say that the package address wasn’t clear enough.

    The message contains a link to click on, so you can supposedly reschedule the delivery. In previous instances of this scam, if you click the link, you’d be taken to a website that looks like the USPS website but isn’t. You’d then be asked to enter your financial information because there is a redelivery fee of $3.00. From here, the scammers would use your financial information to steal as much as they can from you before you notice.

    If you receive a text message like this, think about it for a moment. Did you give the post office your phone number? You probably didn’t and there’s no way for them to find it. The days of the White Pages are over. In general, government services are not in the habit of calling or texting their users. In the majority of cases, if there’s a problem with the service, you need to go to them.

    The best way to protect yourself from this scam is to not click on any links in text messages from people you don’t know personally. You can also sign up for the USPS Informed Delivery service, so you can know exactly when a delivery is expected to be delivered to your home.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Power company CEO almost falls for shut-off scam 

    Power company CEO almost falls for shut-off scam

    By Greg Collier

    The holiday season is probably one of the worst times to be preyed upon by shut-off scammers. Not only is most of the country starting to experience much colder weather, but many of us have a lot on our minds. These are two situations shut-off scammers are hoping to find their victims in.

    In case you’re not familiar with the shut-off scam, this is when scammers call you posing as your local power company. The scammers will say that you’re behind in your bills, and your power will be shut off in 15 minutes. They’re hoping you’ll panic and make a payment to them, usually through some untraceable means like gift cards or cryptocurrency.

    Recently, in San Diego, shut-off scammers unknowingly called the CEO of the local gas and electric company. Posing as representatives of the CEO’s company, they told the CEO there was an issue with his bill, and that his service was in danger of being terminated. The CEO told the phony customer service rep his bill is normally deducted from his bank account.

    According to the CEO, the scammers were ready for that response. They told him this was a problem they were running into and plenty of other customers were saying the same thing. The scammer may have tipped their hand when they told the CEO they could go into his bank account and help him correct the situation. The CEO hung up on the caller and called the actual customer service department of his company, who told him it was a scam. He was even taken aback over how much information the scammers had about not only him, but other members of his family as well.

    We often say that anybody can fall for a scam, regardless of socioeconomic status or education level. Here we had a successful CEO who almost got taken by scammers posing as his own employees.

    But getting back to the scam itself, utility companies don’t threaten customers with termination of service by only giving them a 15-minute warning. If, for some reason, you were to be behind in your account, you would receive a written warning in the mail notifying you of the termination date. Typically, the utilities will give you enough time to try to make some kind of payment arrangement.

    If you receive a call like this that threatens to turn off your service, hang up and call the number to the utility company listed on your bill. This will allow you to not only check the status of your account, but will also warn them about the scam.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 15, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Missing teen scam hijacks social media 

    By Greg Collier

    Nothing gets shared on social media faster than the report of a missing child. Posts like that elicit such a visceral reaction in us that we’ll share the post without verifying it. This is precisely what scammers are hoping for when they post phony reports of missing children on social media. As we tend to point out, scammers will use any type of tragedy, real or imagined, to fleece their victims.

    In Wyoming, it’s been reported that scammers are posting the picture of a teenage boy who allegedly went missing after not returning home from school. The name of the boy changes, but the pictures largely stay the same. These posts are being posted by several different people, with some of them claiming to be the boy’s mother. The scammers are said to have been making these posts in community and neighborhood groups, and pages dedicated to other missing children.

    So, you’re probably wondering what the scammers can possibly gain by creating a fictitious missing child. The missing child post is just an avenue to get the post shared as widely as possible. Once the original post is shared enough times, the scammers will change the post to whatever their latest scam is. In the Wyoming case, the posts were changed to posts for a banking scam.

    So, of course, we always want to help when a child has been reported missing, and we still can. But before you share that post, you might want to make sure it’s from a credible source. For example, if the post comes from a local news station, a police station, or an established organization like The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), it’s probably a legitimate post.

    You may also want to check the age of the post. If you share a post that is years old and the child has been found, repeated posts could make things more difficult not only for police but the child’s family as well.

    Lastly, you could be sharing a false post that is designed to hurt someone.

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