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  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Contact tracing scams are finding more victims 

    Contact tracing scams are finding more victims

    Even though most states have lifted many of their restrictions that were put in place during the onset of the pandemic, COVID-19 is still infecting people. One of the tools that are being used to stop the spread is contact tracing. This is when your state or local health department contacts you to let you know if you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. In some states, you would receive a text message letting you know that a call was coming from your health department. In other states, you would just receive a phone call warning you that you may have been in contact with an infected person.

    Since contact tracing was initiated, scammers have been posing as contact tracers to try to commit identity theft. The scams have gotten so bad that the Attorney General of California has issued a consumer warning to his constituents.

    If a contact tracer were to call you, they would ask to confirm your name, address, and date of birth. That means that they should ask for you by name and not ask you who you are. Scammers will sometimes claim to be with some vague organization like ‘contact and tracing efforts’ while legitimate contact tracers will identify who they are and which health organization they are with. Also, a real contact tracer will never reveal the name of the infected person you may have come in contact with. On the other hand, scammers will try to obtain personal information from you like your social security number or financial information. There is no need for any health department to request that information.

    Lastly, if you receive a text that says you’ve been in contact with an infected person and it contains a link to click, delete the text message as that is almost undoubtedly a scam.

    Being told that you’ve been in contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus can be scary. Scammers prey on that fear to try to get you to give them information that you normally wouldn’t give.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Black Lives Matter, ,   

    Be careful of which charities you support 

    Be careful of which charities you support

    With so many Americans supporting the recent Black Lives Matter protests a number of them who could not be on the front lines have decided to donate money to related charities. While we have not seen any reports yet, if history is any indicator, scammers will be looking to take advantage of Americans’ generosity.

    In the past, scammers have used major events in the news to commit charity scams. The most common time is after a natural disaster like a hurricane, however, the recent COVID-19 outbreaks have been also been a gold mine for charity scammers. So it should come as no surprise if we start hearing reports about scammers using the current racial justice movement to fleece their victims.

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

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

    If you’re looking to donate in order to support the cause, you can use the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org to aid you in your research of charities. New York Magazine has also compiled a list of charities that they say they have vetted.

    Please do not let your charitable donation fall into the hands of scammers that are looking to take advantage of the sacrifices that have been made.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    More details about unemployment scams 

    More details about unemployment scams

    Previously, when we discussed the recent unemployment scams plaguing the nation we mostly talked about how scammers were using stolen identities to apply for unemployment benefits. Now, the Federal Trade Commission has released more details not only about how the scam works but what to do in case you’re a victim.

    Overseas scammers have been overwhelming the online unemployment application systems in many states. They’re using stolen identities to apply for benefits while most states are under a mountain of applications due to the global pandemic. This makes it a perfect time for scammers to try to sneak into the system. People who are currently employed are finding out that unemployment benefits are being sought in their name.

    While the ill-gotten benefits are usually sent to one of the scammers, in some cases they’re sent to the person whose name the benefits are in. In many of these cases, the scammers are posing as the state’s unemployment office and asking for the money back. However, instead of asking for the payment to be returned through legitimate channels, they’re asking for the payment to be sent through gift cards or wire services. These are hallmarks of many scams and payment should never be sent this way to anyone claiming to be a governmental organization.

    If you receive an unemployment payment that you did not apply for, the FTC urges you to report it to your employer and your state’s unemployment office. You can also report it to the FTC themselves at IdentityTheft.Gov.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Police impersonation scams on the rise 

    Police impersonation scams on the rise

    Within the past few weeks, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of news articles about police impersonation scams. This is where scammers will pose as your local or state police and try to pressure their victims into making a large payment under the threat of arrest. The scammers will often call their victims and make the phone number look like they’re calling from the police department.

    These scams can take a number of forms. One of the most infamous ones is the jury duty scam. This is where the scammers will call you up and tell you that you missed jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest. Then they’ll tell you that the warrant can be withdrawn if you just pay them a fine over the phone. Sometimes the scammers will just say that you have a warrant out for your arrest and will forgo the jury duty angle. Other times, the scammers will just say that you owe a fine.

    What all of these scams have in common is that the scammers will try to pressure you into making a payment right away and over the phone. Police departments do not call people to tell them that they have warrants or owe fines. You will almost always receive that information by mail if it is legitimate. Scammers, on the other hand, will try to get you to make a payment either through gift cards or wire transfer. If you weren’t sure if a call you received from someone claiming to be the police was a scam or not, the gift cards should be a dead giveaway as no government agency accepts them as payment. As we have said in the past, gift cards are the currency of scammers due to the fact the cards can be emptied remotely and anonymously.

    If you receive one of these calls, just hang up. Don’t even engage with the scammers. However, you are asked that you report the calls to your local police.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , freelancing, , ,   

    Freelance gig platform targeted in check scam 

    Freelance gig platform targeted in check scam

    Upwork is one of many platforms that allow companies to connect with freelancers to fulfill temporary but crucial assignments. Many professionals have turned to services like Upwork to make money during the current unemployment crisis. This has not gone unnoticed by scammers and they are said to be using platforms like Upwork to commit one of their oldest scams.

    According to a report from NBC News, scammers are posing as real companies on these services to commit the phony check scam. Phony or fraudulent checks are used in a variety of scams from everything to selling an item online to intricate employment scams. The goal of the fake check scam is always the same. The scammer wants you to deposit the check into your bank account, then send them most or all of the money before your bank realizes the check is a fake. By that time, the scammer is long gone with your money and the bank is holding you responsible for the amount of the fake check.

    A California man went to Upwork and applied for an opportunity that he assumed was legitimate. He was interviewed over Skype and even received an offer letter on what appeared to be legitimate company letterhead from a legitimate global corporation. The man also received a check for $3000 that he was told was for his home office supplies. He deposited the check and bought equipment from suppliers that his new ’employer’ recommended. These supposed suppliers were more than likely in league with the phony job scammer. Before it was all over, the man found himself without a job and out $3000 on top of it.

    Upwork themselves have said that users should not use any communication with prospective employers outside of Upwork itself. That is a great tip as scammers and other cyber-criminals often try to communicate with their victims outside of usual channels.

    While many people realize that the checks they receive are fake, there are enough people who fall for this scam that they keep the scammers in business. Billions of dollars in fraudulent checks are deposited into bank accounts each year. You can protect yourself by avoiding these situations. If a deal feels like it’s wrong, it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on June 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , wic   

    New scam targets mothers on food assistance 

    New scam targets mothers on food assistance

    As if it wasn’t bad enough that scammers were targeting Pennsylvania’s unemployment system, now it seems the scammers are also targeting those in the Keystone State that are also in need of food assistance. According to state officials, scammers are now targeting recipients of the Women, Infants, and Children program otherwise known as WIC. WIC is a government assistance program that helps provide healthcare and nutrition to low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five.

    According to reports, scammers are posing as WIC representatives and calling recipients promising them additional funds. The scammers will then ask the WIC recipient for personal information such as their Social Security information or banking information. Some scammers have promised to deposit the phony funds directly into the recipient’s bank account.

    The information stolen by the scammers can be used for any number of additional crimes such as identity theft or money laundering. Just because someone may be in a low-income situation it doesn’t mean that their personal information isn’t valuable to online criminals. Anyone with a Social Security number is potentially at risk.

    Pennsylvania WIC’s office says that if you’re unsure if a call from WIC is legitimate or not to hang up and call the WIC office directly.

    We’d also like to remind our readers that just because this scam isn’t currently happening in their state, that doesn’t mean it may not be in their state soon. The current unemployment scam problems started in one state and quickly spread to several others.

    We find this scam particularly reprehensible since it could potentially take food and healthcare away from those who need it most. We wonder when the scammers will start taking candy from babies.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: debt forgiveness, , ,   

    New scam promises student loan forgiveness 

    New scam promises student loan forgiveness

    With the cost of college tuition always rising and salaries largely remaining stagnant, we have a generation of college graduates who may work their whole lives just to pay back their student loans. People of that generation have also been found to be just as vulnerable to scams as their grandparents’ generation. Far be it for scammers to not try to take advantage of those two facts.

    According to Wikipedia, Navient is a U.S. corporation whose operations include servicing and collecting student loans. They recently settled a lawsuit over student debt forgiveness, however, the settlement doesn’t provide relief for those who owe money to Navient. But the scammers are hoping to cash in on the confusion over the lawsuit settlement.

    Scammers are posing as Navient employees and calling people telling them that due to the settlement the debtors are eligible to have their student debt partially or fully forgiven. There’s only one thing the debtors need to do. You just need to give your Social Security number and pay a fee to transfer the debt to the Department of Education.

    Not just any fee mind you, the scammers are asking for monthly payments from your debit or credit card to maintain the loan forgiveness. So, while the scammers are taking monthly payments from you, nothing is happening with your student debt. So not only are you paying these scammers monthly payments but you’ll probably be ignoring your student loan payments leading to a series of financial nightmares that no one should have to go through.

    However, there is hope. The settlement made it that if your loan payments are being collected by Navient, you can contact them to see if you are, in fact, eligible for loan forgiveness.

    Companies like Navient aren’t going to just call you out of the blue to possibly lose the profits they’ve already gained. Unsolicited phone calls that promise you a way out of debt are almost always too good to be true.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers target man whose dog passed 

    Puppy scammers still finding victims during pandemic

    Adopting a pet into your home is a great way to deal with not only loneliness but also anxiety and depression during the current crisis. That’s exactly what one Los Angeles-area man wanted to do especially after losing his beloved canine friend of 16 years.

    The man was looking to adopt a Rottweiler puppy but found the prices from breeders to be too high at $3,000 to $4,000. Unfortunately, the man turned to one of the worst places you can go to adopt a pet, Craigslist.

    The man found a listing for Rottweiler puppies but the people giving them away were supposedly in Montana. The person claiming to give the puppies away said they had to because their son was a breeder who died from cancer. All the man had to do was pay $280 to an alleged shipping company called Blessing Air Movers. When the payment through an online app didn’t go through, the movers asked for payment in Walmart gift cards. Then the shipper asked for more money for a special crate to ship the puppy in. Of course, the puppy never came and probably never existed.

    While our hearts break for this man, the number of red flags in this scam may have set some type of record.

    For example, when adopting a pet, you should try to only deal with local breeders. Fraudulent out of state shipping costs are a hallmark of this scam. The scammers also had a sob story for why the puppies were being given away at such a discounted rate. These stories are used in several scams and often involve a relative dying or a military member shipping out among others. Then there’s the shipping company that uses a vaguely religious name. Many scammers use religious subtext in their scams either to gain the trust of someone of that religion or just to appeal more trustworthy in general. Both payment options of a cash app or gift cards should have also been red flags as these are often used by scammers to receive untraceable or unrecoverable payments. And lastly, if you find yourself having made a payment to a potential scammer and they keep asking for more money to rectify the situation, it’s more than likely a scam.

    As always, we recommend adopting a pet from one of your local shelters. As even mentioned by the SPCA of LA in the article, shelters will often have purebreds in their population. Some even have reservation lists if you’re looking for a particular breed. Not to mention that the cost will probably be minimal or even free.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on May 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Unemployment scam not just targeting the unemployed 

    We’ve previously posted about unemployment scams in Washington and Colorado. Now it seems that these scams are becoming a nationwide problem and it’s also affecting people who are currently employed.

    Scammers have been using stolen identities to apply for unemployment benefits in several states hoping to shift the money to overseas scamming rings. This has caused delays in issuing payments to those who are currently depending on their unemployment benefits. Considering the record amount of unemployment the nation has been facing lately it’s probably been easy for scammers to slip through the cracks.

    However, it’s not just the unemployed that these scams are targeting. In many states, people who are currently employed have been notified by their employers that someone has used their identity to file for unemployment benefits. This could result in several financial headaches for the victims. Not the least of which could be getting audited by the IRS if it’s not caught in time.

    Some of the states that have been hit by this scam are Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. There have also been reports out of Pennsylvania and Maine that they’ve been targets as well.

    Even if you are currently employed, you may want to sign up for an account state’s unemployment office. Some states allow you to sign up for an account without needing unemployment benefits. If you’re currently unemployed, we recommend checking with your state’s unemployment office to make sure your payments are being sent to the correct destination.

    Also, please keep in mind that your state’s unemployment office may contact you by phone or email. However, they should not be asking for any personal identifying information. They should already have that information from when you first applied for benefits. If someone is asking for that information claiming to be from the unemployment office they could be a scammer looking to steal your identity.

    (H/T CBS)

     
  • Geebo 8:13 am on May 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , eip card, , ,   

    Stimulus debit cards delivered in unmarked envelopes 

    Stimulus debit cards delivered in unmarked envelopes

    Last week, we posted about the stimulus debit cards that some taxpayers will receive instead of paper checks. To summarize, those taxpayers who didn’t provide the IRS with their banking information might receive one of these cards known as EIP cards instead of a paper check.

    Some taxpayers are already starting to receive their EIP cards, however, some have been suspicious of the cards since they’re being delivered in unmarked envelopes. These cards are, in fact, the legitimate EIP cards and can be used mostly like a normal debit card. So if you’re expecting your stimulus payment in the mail, don’t throw out any unmarked envelopes until you receive your card.

    The envelope will say it’s been sent by Money Network Cardholder Services while the card itself will have a VISA logo along with the name MetaBank which is the issuing bank.

    In other consumer financial news, the state of Colorado is warning residents about a scam that is targeting the unemployed. Scammers are posing as employees of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment or the Colorado Division of Unemployment Insurance. They’ll contact their victims by phone or email asking for personal information such as your Social Security number, your bank account numbers, and bank account passwords. Please keep in mind that while this is being reported in Colorado, this scam could come to any state.

    If you’ve recently applied for unemployment in your state, the unemployment office may contact you, however, they will not ask for any personal information. Most offices will already have the information they need from when you initially applied for benefits.

     
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