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  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Social Security scams continue to target the most vulnerable 

    Social Security scams continue to target the most vulnerable

    It seems like Social Security scams are an ever-present problem anymore. For many disabled and senior citizens, their Social Security benefits are their only source of income and for too many, it’s hardly enough to make ends meet. For these reasons, Social Security recipients are seen as easy targets by many scammers.

    We’re not saying that Social Security recipients are more or less likely to fall for scams, however, scammers can be very convincing when it comes to pressuring their victims into doing things they wouldn’t normally do.

    When it comes to Social Security recipients, scammers often pose as employees of the Social Security Administration itself. They’ll relay some phony scenario in which the victim’s Social Security benefits will be cut off if the victim doesn’t act quickly. Threatened with the loss of their only income, too many victims fall for this scam each year.

    Normally, the scammers are after one of two things. In some instances, they’re only looking for your personal information. We say only but the loss of personal information could lead to a world of problems down the line as anybody who had their identity stolen could tell you. Potentially, identity thieves could take out loans or open lines of credit in your name leaving you facing a mound of debt.

    The other trick scammers try to pull is to get you to pay some sort of fee to ‘restore’ your Social Security benefits. As has become the norm, the scammers will try to get you to pay them in either git cards, pre-paid debit cards, or wire services like Moneygram and Western Union.

    These scams have become such an issue lately that some state Attorneys General have issued warnings to their constituents.

    Please keep in mind that the SSA will rarely call you. The only time they may call you is if you have an ongoing issue with your Social Security benefits where you have already spoken with them in the past. This is important because scammers often spoof the SSA’s phone number when calling victims. Most importantly, the SSA will never ask for any sort of payment over the phone and definitely not in gift cards and the like.

    If you receive one of these phone calls, it’s recommended that you hang up right away. You can then call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 to verify if there’s an actual issue or you could call the SSA’s fraud line at (800) 269-0271.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flight attendant, moneygram, , ,   

    Beware of flight attendants selling cars 

    Beware of flight attendants selling cars and other scams

    In Wisconsin, the Better Business Bureau is warning residents there about an ongoing scam involving the online sale of used cars. Scammers will post an ad online for an in-demand car. Sometimes it will be a classic car while other times it will be a modern car at a too good to be believed price. The scammer will claim to be local but currently out of the local area. In the Wisconsin case, the scammers are claiming to be a flight attendant who is currently out of town, going through a divorce and needs to move the car fast. In the more common version of this scam, the scammers will pose as members of the military who are stationed overseas.

    In any case, the scammer will tell you that the car is being held by a shipping or logistics company and that you need to pay the shipping company. They’ll then instruct you to make the payment through wire transfer services like Moneygram or Western Union. The scammers will often use the name of legitimate shipping companies to make the transaction seem more legitimate but once the money is wired the person pretending to be the seller disappears with your money. In all likelihood, the car being advertised never existed.

    When shopping for a vehicle online, you should automatically stop dealing with a seller if they give you a story about being out of town and unable to show the vehicle. Even if they say they can’t show the vehicle due to coronavirus concerns you should stop dealing with them. Also, you should never wire money to someone you don’t personally know. Money transfers are one of the standard tools used by scammers due to the fact they can use them to take your money and vanish into the wind.

    So hopefully, the next time you’re searching for a car to buy, you won’t waste your time dealing with a con artist.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB warns this Amazon scam is on the rise 

    BBB warns this Amazon scam is on the rise

    If you’re trying to maintain social distancing, you’re probably doing a fair bit of shopping online. When you shop online, it’s difficult to avoid a massive retailer like Amazon. Since so many third-party vendors sell their wares on Amazon, this can lead to some vendors trying to get one over on Amazon and its customers.

    The Better Business Bureau recently released a warning to consumers about a scam called brushing. This occurs when you receive an item that was delivered by Amazon that you didn’t order. Legally, you’re allowed to keep that item but it could indicate that your Amazon account has been compromised.

    Vendors do this to make it look like that you’ve purchased their product. They’ll then use your information to post a positive review of the product that’s marked as a verified purchase on Amazon. This is intended to gain a higher ranking on Amazon which in turn is supposed to lead to more sales for the vendor.

    But just stop and think a moment about what information is in your Amazon account. Not only is your home address listed within, but your payment information as well. These supposedly free items could be costing you without you even noticing it at first.

    So, what should you do if you start receiving these unsolicited deliveries? The first thing you should do is immediately change the password on your Amazon account. Since the scammers may have also compromised your email account you may want to consider changing the email address attached to your Amazon account also. These deliveries should also be reported to Amazon itself so they can take down any fake reviews in your name which is against their policy.

    If any of your debit or credit cards have been used in this scam you’ll want to cancel them and have new ones issued. The only consolation to the victim of this scam is that they can legally keep the items sent to them, however, they’re usually not the type of items you’d normally want to keep.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Appalachian Power Co., , smart meter,   

    Local pronunciation foils scammers 

    We’ve discussed utility scams in the past. The utility scam is another impersonation scam where scammers will pose as your local power company. They’ll call you and threaten to shut off your power if you don’t make an immediate payment with gift cards or prepaid debit cards. As we’ve also mentioned in the past, no legitimate company or agency will ever ask you to make payment in gift cards. Recently in Virginia, scammers failed to trick at least one person in this scam due to their pronunciation of the local power company.

    Appalachian Power Co. operates in the western part of Virginia and in West Virginia near the Appalachian Mountains. One report states that scammers have been targeting Appalachian Power Co. with threats to shut off their service. The scammers will tell Appalachian Power Co. customers that they have trucks in the customer’s neighborhood and will cut off their power in less than 30 minutes. Scammers will often present high-pressure situations like this in order to keep their victims emotionally off-balance.

    What the scammers didn’t count on was the correct pronunciation of the word ‘Appalachian’. Most people who live outside the region of the Appalachian Mountains will pronounce it like ‘apple-AY-shun’ while people from the region pronounce it as ‘apple-ATCH-un’. This pronunciation error tipped off at least one man that the call was a scam.

    As always with these utility scams, power companies will never call you demanding payment while threatening to terminate your service. All notices will be sent through the mail. Not only that, but keep ion mind that many power companies now use smart meters which means that power can now be terminated remotely if need be.

    The trick is to keep things like this in mind when one of these scammers call you. Pronunciation of city and area names will be known to people working in the area. If the scammers mispronounce the local variation of the name, that’s a good indicator they’re a scammer. Generally, if something feels off about a call like this there’s no harm in hanging up on them then calling your power company directly.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    FTC: SIM swapping on the rise 

    FTC: SIM swapping on the rise

    Around a decade ago, not everyone had a smartphone. While the iPhone had already been out for three years, many people only had phones that could only make calls and send text messages. Now, the majority of us have smartphones which are basically like having a full-blown computer in your pocket. As such, many of us have very sensitive personal and financial information on our phones. Now, what if someone was able to steal all of that information without having to steal your phone? That’s exactly what happens with SIM swapping.

    SIM swapping is when a scammer or other bad actor is able to convince your cell phone carrier to switch your service to their phone. This way they can have access to the various social media, email, and financial apps that you may have on your phone. SIM swapping is lucrative to scammers because this way they can easily access accounts that are protected by two-factor authentication since many of us use text messaging as our preferred method of 2FA. This is also how they can lock you out of your own accounts after having email addresses and passwords changed.

    Normally, someone would have to give your cell phone carrier a PIN number in order to transfer service to a new device. However, since so many people forget their PINs, some carriers will let you change service after answering a couple of security questions. Scammers can often find the answer to these questions, like your pet’s name or the street you grew up on, from your social media accounts. The Federal Trade Commission has said that SIM swapping has been on the rise in the past few years.

    There are ways to protect yourself from SIM swapping. The first is to not share too much information about yourself on social media that could lead to scammers knowing the answers to your security questions. The other way is to contact your carrier and tell them not to allow any device switching on your account. However, to get your account unfrozen you may have to visit your carrier’s store with your ID.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Twitter hacked in major cryptocurrency scam 

    Twitter hacked in major cryptocurrency scam

    Yesterday, the accounts of some very high profile individuals were compromised in a cryptocurrency scam. Some of the names who had their Twitter accounts hacked include Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Apple Computers just to name a few. As of the time of writing this post, it’s unknown how so many Twitter accounts belonging to so many celebrities and business magnates were hijacked.

    The phony tweets from the hijacked accounts promised that people could double their Bitcoin value if they just send it to a designated Bitcoin wallet. Many of the Tweets said that the poster was feeling generous and wanted to double people’s Bitcoin in support of COVID-19 efforts. By the time the bogus tweets were caught, scammers were able to collect at least $100,000 in cryptocurrency.

    While the level of complexity of this scam in unprecedented, the scam itself is not a new one. Crypto-scammers will often post links on social media promising to increase the value of someone’s cryptocurrency if they just send it to the person making the post. In reality, the scammer just takes the person’s cryptocurrency and disappears into the ether.

    You don’t even have to be a cryptocurrency speculator to fall for a very similar scam. If you’ve ever seen the hashtag #CashAppFridays you may know what we’re talking about.

    When the Cash App has one of its weekly giveaways, a number of scammers will use the hashtag with promises of giving people $500 if they give them $50 through Cash App. This is what’s called cash flipping and the Cash App users often find themselves out of the money they gave the scammer.

    These scams are akin to handing your money to a stranger on the street who promised you $50 for $5. Even if they claim to be financial giants like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, no one is giving away free money to random people on the internet. While many of the people hacked in this scam may be philanthropists, their donations generally go to charities and non-profits and not to random Twitter followers.

    (H/T: TechCrunch)

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Can you get your money back after a gift card scam? 

    Can you get your money back after a gift card scam?

    If you’re one of our regular readers, there’s a good chance that you’re tired of hearing about gift cards. That’s understandable, we talk about them a lot However, there is a very good reason why we talk about them all the time. If there’s a new scam going around or an old one showing a resurgence, there’s a good chance that gift cards are somehow involved.

    If you’re a new reader, the reason that scammers covet gift cards is that they’re an easy way to get virtually untraceable money from their victims. If someone is trying to pressure you into making any kind of payment through gift cards, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    For example, a couple in Arizona recently paid $13,000 in gift cards to a scammer who claimed to be from Apple and told the couple that their Apple accounts had been compromised. All they needed to do was buy $13,000 in Apple gift cards and give the gift card numbers to the phony Apple representative to get their accounts restored. They were told they would be reimbursed but they never were. The couple called Apple directly who informed them that they had been scammed.

    Unfortunately, it was too late for this couple but there is a way to prevent your money from being taken if you act quick enough. As we noted in a previous post, gift card scammers employ people they call runners. Once the scammers have the gift card numbers the runners go to various outlets to try to get the money off of the gift cards. In theory, there’s a brief window between the time you give the scammers the card numbers and the time the runners cash out the cards.

    If you realize you have just been scammed, you should immediately call the customer service number on the back of the gift cards. Remember, you still have the physical cards and the customer service representative should be able to help freeze those numbers if you get to them in time.

    Just remember that gift cards are the currency of thieves and scammers. No legitimate business or agency will ever ask you to make payment through gift cards.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Victim held hostage in romance scam 

    Victim held hostage in romance scam

    When we’ve discussed romance scams in the past, we always mention the potential financial and emotional toll it can take on its victims. What we haven’t mentioned is the physical toll when it comes to the safety of romance scam victims.

    If you’re unfamiliar with what a romance scam is, it’s when a scammer poses online as someone their not and luring victims in with the prospect of a romantic relationship. When the scammer has fully fooled their victim into believing they’re in an authentic relationship, the scammer will start asking their victim for money. Previous romance scams have seen victims lose anywhere from thousands of dollars to literally over a million dollars.

    Red flags that could indicate a romance scam is if the person keeps giving excuses as to why they can’t meet you in person. Another red flag can be if the person claims to be working or stationed overseas. Romance scammers often pose as American military members and steal the photos of active military personnel.

    Recently, an American woman who was caught up in a romance scam was rescued from her captors who had allegedly perpetrated a romance scam on her. The woman was lured to Nigeria with the promise of marriage. She actually married the man who was scamming her. After the marriage, the scammer was said to have taken control of all her financial accounts including her retirement account. The victim was held captive by her scammer for 16 months in a hotel room. This type of captivity is not unheard of as authorities rescued a woman from the Philippines who had been held in Nigeria for six months.

    Again, we can’t stress this enough that anybody from any cultural, financial, or educational background can be a victim of a romance scam. We’ve seen people from widows/widowers to corporate CEOs who have been taken in romance scams. Now, with the added danger of being held captive being thrown into the mix, you should be more cautious than ever when it comes to making relationships online.

    If you think you or someone you know may be the victim of a romance scam, the Federal Trade Commission has a great website on how to recognize a romance scam. Don’t let your heart trick you into making dangerous decisions.

     
  • Geebo 8:03 am on July 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , moving,   

    Long-distance moving scam 

    Long-distance moving scam

    While not as many people are thinking about moving right now there are still plenty of people looking to plant new roots. Whether it’s a local move or a move across the country, the job may be too much to handle by yourself. In that case, you may be considering hiring a moving company. if so you don’t want to hire just any moving company. There are a plethora of ads on the internet for moving companies but some of them could lead to disaster.

    Just about anyone can post an ad online calling themselves a moving company. That doesn’t necessarily make them one although an unlicensed moving company might be the least of your worries. Some moving companies are just out to hold your possessions for ransom. For example, a man from Cleveland, Ohio was moving to Alabama. He hired a moving company to take his belongings to Alabama but then a number of problems arose.

    After giving the man an estimate, the movers said that the man had more boxes than were estimated and demanded more money. Then after taking the items to be moved, the movers asked for an additional payment as a pickup fee to move the man’s items from their warehouse to his new home. Thousands of dollars and nine months later, the man still doesn’t have his belongings and the alleged moving company is now out of business.

    Just like any other major life decision, you should do a lot of research before picking out a moving company. Check online reviews and ask friends on social media for recommendations. You can also check the mover’s license number with the Department of Transportation to see their complaint history and if they’re not registered with the DOT, that can be a big red flag that the company may not be legitimate.

    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 July 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    The Social Security scam that threatens arrest 

    The Social Security scam that threatens arrest

    There have been reports of another scam going around that targets senior citizens and something that many seniors rely heavily upon. Scammers are posing as the FBI and threatening seniors with either discontinuation of their Social Security benefits, arrest, or both. This scam is largely done in order to get frightened seniors to pay to make fictitious criminal charges go away.

    Recently, reports have come from multiple states where scammers will call seniors posing as FBI agents. The scammers are able to make their phone number appear as if the call is coming from the local FBI office. The scammers will then tell their victim that their Social Security number has been linked to a crime. One of the more common claims the scammers will use is that someone rented a car in the victim’s name which was connected with a major crime. Often the scammers will say that drugs were found in the car as well.

    The scammers will then use this ruse to tell their victim that their Social Security number has been suspended and that the victim would need to pay to get it reinstated. This is where the scammers will ask for payment in their favorite form of currency, gift cards. They’ll instruct the victim to buy an astronomical amount of gift cards and then give the scammers the numbers from the back of the cards.

    Now, you may say that you could never fall for a scam like that. However, many scammers have such a fine-tuned operation that they make the scenario seem more than believable. In many cases, it’s not just one person calling pretending to be a federal agent. Often they’ll keep transferring the victim from one person to another who are all claiming to be part of the FBI while they use psychological tactics to scare the victim into making the payment. These payments are often tallied in the thousands of dollars.

    However, there is always a way these scammers tip their hands and that’s asking for the money in gift cards. We can’t stress enough how often gift cards are not only involved in this scam but also in most scams that happen today.

    If anyone is claiming to be from the government, a utility company, a hospital, or anyone else trying to collect a payment and they ask for a payment on gift cards, it’s almost a certainty that they’re a scammer.

     
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