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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Scams that veterans should be aware of 

    Scams that veterans should be aware of

    With today being Veterans Day it only seems fitting that we should look out for those who have given so much for our country. It seems that veterans are often targeted in government impostor scams. Since veterans often have to deal with several government agencies about benefits and services hearing from the government may not seem that out of the ordinary. Scammers will try to take advantage of the frequency that veterans deal with the government in hopes that the victim of their scam will believe that they are calling from the government. However, most of the scams they try to commit are also some of the same scams civilians have to deal with.

    The most common scam reported by veterans is the IRS impersonation scam. This is where scammers will pose as IRS agents and try to persuade their victims into believing that they owe back taxes. The scammers will try to pressure their victims into making a payment as soon as possible either through wire transfer or gift cards. The next common scam for veterans is the grant scam where the victim will receive a message on social media from a friend’s compromised account telling the victim they can get federal grant money. The scammers will then say that in order to get the grant the victim will need to pay a processing fee which will disappear as soon as it’s paid. And lastly, scammers will pose as being from the VA in order to try to get medical and healthcare information from the victim.

    As with most government scams, the ways of prevention remain the same. If the government really needs to get a hold of you they will more than likely contact you by mail. The government will also never ask for payment over the phone through wire transfer or gift cards. Those are tools of choice used in most scams today. And as always, if you receive one of these calls and you may believe that there is an issue with one of these agencies, hang up and call the agency back at their proper phone number.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Is your Ring doorbell at risk of attack? 

    Is your Ring doorbell at risk of attack?

    Ring Doorbells have become very popular over the past few years. Not only does it offer the convenience of knowing who’s at your door while you’re not home, but it also records any interaction that occurs at your front door. With the assistance of Ring Doorbells, all sorts of interlopers have been caught ranging from porch pirates to home intruders. They’ve become so popular and ubiquitous that police stations around the country are recommending residents install one and become part of a police network of cameras. So, it should come as no surprise that bad actors may want access to your camera.

    Amazon, owners of Ring, recently announced that there was a vulnerability in Ring Doorbells that could have exposed your wifi password to attackers. During the authentication process, the communication between your doorbell and the was unencrypted leaving your wifi password open in plain text and potentially available to hackers. While any attack wouldn’t be able to control the camera itself, once your home wifi is vulnerable an attacker could compromise any number of systems especially if you have a number of smart home or internet of things (IoT) devices.

    Thankfully, Amazon patched this vulnerability before they made it public knowledge. That’s not even taking into account that any attack against the doorbell would have to happen at the precise moment of authentication and the attacker would need to be in range of your home wifi. The chances of a hacker being on your property at the time of authentication are very slim. However, this does show that no smart home or internet-enabled security device is foolproof. When purchasing such a device, do your research in finding out which ones are the most secure and which ones receive regular updates from the manufacturer. Otherwise, you could be as secure as leaving your front door unlocked.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Airbnb promises changes amid scandals 

    Airbnb promises changes amid scandals

    Airbnb has not had the best week PR-wise. After a shooting took place at one of their listings in Orinda, Califonia, Airbnb is also facing backlash in Jersey City after voters approved restrictions of short term rentals. On top of that there was also the expose published by VICE that uncovered a nationwide scam run by phony Airbnb hosts. Scandals like these have sunk lesser companies and platforms. However, instead of trying to defend what has happened, Airbnb has promised that they will be enacting sweeping changes to their platform to ensure better experiences for their users.

    In the wake of these issues, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced plans to make all listings 100% verified. According to Chesky, this means all hosts and listings will undergo further scrutiny. Airbnb will also be launching a 24-hour hotline for users so problems can be reported immediately. This is almost unheard of in the era of everything being done online. Good luck trying to get a hold of many other platforms by phone for assistance. They also plan to make the refund process much smoother if a listing doesn’t measure up to standards.

    What gives us pause is Chesky says that part of the verification process will be depend on community policing. That means that users will be relied on to give honest reports of listings they encounter. We have seen other sites that have relied on community policing where the community was overrun by those that community policing was supposed to report on. However, Airbnb is promising that community policing is not the only method of verification they will be using. They will also be conducting their own monitoring of listings for fraudulent activity. Not a lot of companies or platforms are willing to commit that kind of manpower to monitoring.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Is there really something wrong with your Amazon Prime account? 

    Is there really something wrong with your Amazon Prime account?

    Today, we’re bringing you scams that are happening locally in communities around the country. As we always say, if it’s happening there it could also be happening in your community.

    First up is a report out of Westchester County, New York where police there are warning residents about calls claiming to be from Amazon. Residents have complained about receiving calls from someone claiming that their Amazon Prime accounts have been compromised and need to be renewed. Victims of the scam are then asked for their financial information to resolve the non-existent issue. In one case, a victim was asked to remotely give control of their computer to the scammers so they could ‘improve the security settings.’ So this scam appears to be a hybrid of phishing and the tech support scam.

    A student at Texas A&M recently found herself scammed out of $10,000 in a Social Security scam. She received a phone call with the caller claiming that her Social Security information was misused with some drug issues in El Paso. They threatened her with arrest or she could pay them $10,000. The student was then instructed to transfer money to the scammers by way of BitCoin and gift cards. No government agency will call you on the phone like this and they especially wouldn’t ask for payment in BitCoin and gift cards. If you suspect there may actually be an issue with your Social Security, call the Social Security Administration yourself at their official customer service number of 1 (800) 772-1213.

    Lastly, if you get an unsolicited phone call from someone promising you a great cable deal, it’s more than likely a scam. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of these fraudulent phone calls. The caller will promise you a discounted deal on your cable bill if you pay a certain number of months upfront. As with many scams, they ask you to make the payment by using pre-paid debit cards. Like gift cards, one the scammers are able to get the money off of the pre-paid debit card there’s no way of getting it back.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Are hackers spending your money on Facebook? 

    Are hackers spending your money on Facebook?

    Business owners, whether they may be big or small, often take out ads on Facebook. Considering Facebook’s massive reach, placing ads on Facebook is almost considered a no-brainer. In order for businesses to place these ads, they need to enter some kind of payment information on Facebook. That can be either a credit or debit card or some kind of online payment like PayPal. You don’t even have to be a business to place a Facebook ad as anybody can purchase an ad. Now, some hacked Facebook accounts have led to these ads being purchased without the knowledge of the account’s owner.

    CNET is reporting that they’ve received reports of hacked Facebook accounts being used to purchase questionable ads. The ads are then charged to the account of whoever’s account has been compromised while the hackers get their ads served for free. The ads tend to be for some kind of scam product where the hackers are just looking to gain the financial information of more victims. You don’t even have to have a Facebook business account for this to happen. If you’ve ever entered your payment information to Facebook for whatever reason, you could be in jeopardy if your account becomes compromised.

    To better protect yourself against an attack like this is to have a secure password used specifically for your Facebook account. Never use similar passwords for different accounts. While business accounts have to keep an eye out for fraudulent charges, personal accounts can remove their payment information from Facebook. On your Facebook account, click on the settings option then scroll down to the payment information option. Once you click on that you’ll have the option to remove your payment information.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Reporter uncovers large scale Airbnb scam 

    Reporter uncovers large scale Airbnb scam

    Whenever there is an online platform that requires a level of trust between users, there is always going to be someone looking to take advantage of that trust. Take Airbnb for example. Usually, when a violation of that trust makes the news, it’s about how a renter took advantage of the host’s trust and trashed the property. We hardly ever hear about hosts taking advantage of renters and if we do, it’s not on the scale that was recently uncovered by former senior staff writer at VICE, Allie Conti. What she uncovered can almost be considered a conspiracy.

    While Ms. Conti was in the process of renting an Airbnb for a concert festival she was notified by the hosts that the property she rented was having plumbing issues and the property was flooded. The hosts then reportedly said that they have another property they can rent to her. Ms. Conti agreed and went to the new property which she describes as nothing short of a flophouse. She was only able to get a partial refund from Airbnb. After her trip, she decided to investigate and found that the hosts were allegedly phonies who were using stock photos in their Airbnb profile. Apparently, the hosts were using this same scam all across the country using various names. We recommend reading the entire VICE article to get the full experience from Ms. Conti’s investigation.

    So how can you protect yourself from such a scam? Unfortunately, the nature of Airbnb is that you really can’t protect yourself from this kind of scam. In many cases, guests are depending on the Airbnb they’ve booked and the scammers don’t contact them about the ‘problem’ until the guests are already in town. If guests are in town for a major convention, festival, or sporting event then their options are minimal. Finding a hotel room at this point is almost impossible. Also, keep in mind that Airbnb refund policies seem to favor the host rather than the guest. The only thing we can really recommend is to book a hotel room early.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , award scam, business owner, , maternity, ,   

    That business award may just be a fake (and other scams) 

    That business award may just be a fake (and other scams)

    Today, we end the week the same way we began it, with a roundup of scams that have turned up across the country. As always, just because the scam isn’t currently happening in your town doesn’t mean it won’t.

    The first scam is kind of an unusual one. A woman in Highlands Ranch, Colorado owns a dog training business. She received an email from someone claiming to be from the Highlands Ranch Award Program and that she had won an award for being the best dog trainer in the area. To claim a specially engraved plaque all she would need to do is send them $169. When the woman received the plaque it was of dubious quality and the Highlands Ranch Award Program was actually based in New Jersey. As it turns out, shady companies will scan news articles for ‘best of’ lists for business owners they can prey on.

    A number of women in Arkansas have received what look like handwritten greeting cards in the mail congratulating them on their pregnancies. The problem is that a great many of them aren’t pregnant. It turns out that these cards were sent from an online retailer of baby items and the card was actually a coupon. However, some of the women allege that when you enter the coupon code at the retailer’s website the price of shipping became so outrageous that it would wipe out any potential savings. The Better Business Bureau is investigating.

    And lastly, we have a scam that has a neighborhood in San Diego quite concerned. This neighborhood has been having a problem with porch pirates stealing packages from their doorsteps. Now, someone has been going around allegedly posing as an Amazon salesman trying to get residents to install the Amazon Key service in their homes. The real Amazon key allows delivery people to place packages inside the home if instructed. However, Amazon does not sell door to door. Amazon has also confirmed that the man was not an employee of theirs.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , payment app, , Zelle   

    Payment app used by major banks targeted in scam 

    Payment app used by major banks targeted in scam

    Zelle is a payment app much like Venmo or the Cash App except that it’s tied directly to your bank account. The Zelle service is offered by major banks like Bank of America, Chase, and Fifth-Third among others. With Venmo and other apps, scammers can only drain your account of whatever amount you put in it. With Zelle, scammers now have the potential to drain your entire bank account and you don’t even have to use the Zelle app for it to happen.

    The scam starts out with a phone call where the scammers pose as your bank including using a spoofed phone number. They say that there is some suspicious activity with your account and that they need your login information in order to verify your identity. The scammers then use this information to lock you out of your own online account. They then activate the Zelle app under your account and transfer the money to Zelle accounts that were opened on burner phones. To the bank, it appears like you’ve made the changes to your account and used the Zelle app to make payments. Zelle itself uses two-factor authentication to try to prevent scams but if the user gives out their information to scammers there’s basically nothing Zelle can do.

    To better prevent this from happening to you it is recommended that you either activate the Zelle app through your bank or have the bank turn it off. If you receive a call from someone saying they’re from your bank, they will always have your account information and won’t need to ask for it. Even if you believe the call is from your bank it’s always better to call the bank back at their customer service number listed on the back of your card or in the bank’s mobile app.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam targets distraught pet owners 

    Scam targets distraught pet owners

    Losing a beloved family pet is one of the most heartbreaking experiences that anyone can endure. In some ways losing a pet is worse than having a pet pass away as when a pet gets loose and runs off you may never know what has happened to them. It doesn’t help when there are those out there who are looking to take advantage of your loss. That’s right, there are scammers and con artists out there who are going to try to make money off of you while you’re trying to find your lost pet.

    In a recent report out of the Orlando, Florida area, a local animal shelter there has reported that scammers have tried to prey on at least one family who recently lost their dog. The scammer will get the victim’s contact information off of a flyer or social media post. They’ll then tell the victim that they have their pet but will demand a gift card as a type of reward before giving the pet back. In reality, the scammer does not have the pet and just wants the gift card so they can drain the gift card of its value and disappear.

    If you have lost a pet and receive notification of someone claiming to have your pet, ask them for a current picture of your pet. If they can’t produce one or send one that is obviously not the pet then they’re trying to scam you. You can also better protect yourself by omitting some of the identifying marks on your pet from their description on any missing pet posts. This will better allow you to tell if someone really does have your missing pet. If someone does provide proof they have your pet, have them meet you at a local police station to minimize any potential threat. And as always, never make payments over the phone to strangers with gift cards.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: back brace, , ,   

    Are ‘free’ back braces really free? 

    Are 'free' back braces really free?

    Have you ever seen a TV commercial with an offer that you know has to have a catch but can’t quite put your finger on it? For example, there are TV commercials currently airing that offer Medicare recipients a knee or back brace for little to no cost. While the catch may not be targeted directly at consumers there is still a catch. The catch is actually targeted at Medicare which could end up costing individual recipients in the long run. The TV commercials for the back brace usually look something like this.

    The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report calling these offers scams. According to the FTC, the braces are offered to Medicare recipients to obtain your Medicare information so these companies can bill braces you may not need to Medicare. Back in April, Federal Investigators broke up an orthopedic brace scam that was costing Medicare $1.2 billion a year. Shady doctors were said to have written the prescriptions for these braces and then received kickbacks from the company peddling the braces. If a Medicare recipient were to order one of these braces it could affect their benefits. If they needed a better or different brace in the future it could be denied by Medicare due to frequency policies thereby affecting the patient’s potential health issues.

    The FTC advises that under no circumstances should you give out your Medicare information over the phone unless it’s a doctor you’ve seen personally. Also, you shouldn’t accept any medical equipment in the mail unless you or your doctor ordered it. And if you are in need of a back or any kind of brace, only use one that your doctor has prescribed to you as your doctor knows your exact needs, a company on TV does not. Lastly, always check the noticed you receive from Medicare in the mail to make sure that no one else is using your Medicare benefits.

     
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