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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cash App, cash flipping, , Square   

    Cash flipping isn’t a real thing 

    Cash flipping isn't a real thing

    If you’ve never heard of the company Square, they are innovators in the mobile payment space. Before Square, if a merchant wanted to be able to accept debit and credit card payments they needed an expensive and complicated system to do so. Now, thanks to Square, all a merchant may need is a tablet with Square’s dongle attached to it to process debit and credit card payments. Square also has a service for consumers called the Cash App. It’s a mobile payment system that is in the same vein as Venmo. And of course, when there’s a tool for money to change hands there are people looking to get their hands on that money.

    The Cash App has giveaways on Fridays that they call #CashAppFridays. If you follow that hashtag on Twitter or Instagram you could be eligible for a cash prize from Cash. This has spawned several Cash App imitators hijacking the hashtag claiming that they can give you money if you just pay them a little bit of money in a practice known as cash flipping. For example, these imitators will say they work for Cash App and can get you $500 if you give them $50. Other Cash App imitators will try to direct you to a phony website that looks like it’s run by Cash App but in reality, they’re just trying to get your Cash App login credentials in a phishing attempt.

    This brings two adages to mind, ‘if it’s too good to be true it probably is’ and ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’. No one is going to give you more money if you pay them money for this scam. They’re simply going to bait their victims into sending a large amount of money before disappearing. You wouldn’t hand money to a stranger on the street who said they’ll give you $500 if you give them $50, so why give it to some stranger on the internet? These apps should only be used for exchanging money between friends and family. If a random stranger online is asking you for money through these apps, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    91-year-old man taken in grandparent scam 

    91-year-old man taken in grandparent scam

    If you haven’t heard of the grandparent scam it can be a particularly heartbreaking story. The scam targets the elderly and how it works is that the scammer will call their target pretending to be one of their grandchildren. They will ask the grandparent for money claiming they’re in some kind of jam such as being in jail or an emergency room. They’ll also ask the grandparent not to say anything to the parents because they’re too embarrassed when in reality it’s just to keep the target’s adult children from finding out about the scam. Scammers count on their victims being more trusting, more willing to answer a call from an unfamiliar number, and not being as tech-savvy as younger segments of the population.

    Unfortunately, a 91-year-old man from Indiana was scammed out of almost $3,000 in one of these scams. He received a call from someone claiming to be his grandson who claimed to be in jail and needed bail money. The phone was then handed over to someone pretending to be the arresting officer who instructed the man that bail could be paid with eBay gift cards. The man ended up buying $2,600 worth of gift cards in two separate trips to his local supermarket. The man then gave the gift card serial numbers to the scammers. Even after thew scammers got the money from their victim, they kept calling him asking for more money. His daughter finally intervened and had his calls forwarded to her line where she confronted the scammers. Sadly, the money the man spent will more than likely not be recovered.

    We know we say this a lot but that’s only because it’s such a common trait in most scams; don’t ever pay for anything over the phone with gift cards. If you or a family member receive a call like this and they ask for payment in gift cards or prepaid debit cards it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam. You should also handle these phone calls calmly if you receive one and don’t give in to the pressure the caller will try to apply. If they claim to be a family member, ask them something that only that family member would know. You should also call another relative who is more familiar with that person’s current location to make sure they’re not in any kind of trouble. And if you have elderly friends or relatives, especially if they live alone, please share this information with them so they can better handle any scam calls they might receive.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , timeshares   

    Scam targeting timeshare owners 

    Scam targeting timeshare owners

    A number of people think timeshares themselves are a scam. Considering how predatory some of their sales pitches can be you really can’t blame them. However, there are many who consider timeshares to be an affordable alternative to owning their own vacation getaway. It also means that you don’t have to worry about hotels or Airbnbs being sold out when it’s time to take your vacation. It also doesn’t hurt that many timeshare properties offer amenities that many other lodging situations don’t offer with more privacy. But just like everything else, there are those looking to take advantage of timeshare owners when it comes time to sell their timeshare.

    A recent report out of San Antonio, Texas, discusses a situation where a local man was approached by a brokerage firm about selling the timeshare that he had in Mexico. He agreed and began to fill out the paperwork in order to initiate the transfer process. After the paperwork was completed he then began getting requests from the brokerage for things like legal fees and international taxes. He was then told that he would get the money back once the deal went through. Then the brokerage firm continued to ask the man for more money and threatening him with lawsuits when he refused to pay. After the man stopped paying the fees they were requesting the ‘brokerage firm’ cut off all contact and disappeared off the face of the earth with them turning off the phone line and shutting down their website.

    While it’s unfortunate that any victim of this scam lost money, there were a number of red flags that this was a scam. The first was that the victims are approached unsolicited. If you’re not in the market to sell and someone calls you with promises of quick cash it’s probably a scam. Secondly, was the first request for additional funds. If you send them money once the scammers will continue to ask for it until they bleed you dry. Lastly was the act of them pressuring for the victim to send more money. Legitimate real estate brokers may try to put the squeeze on you a little bit but they won’t go to such extremes. If you’re in the market to sell your timeshare, have a legitimate broker do it for you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , unclaimed funds, unclaimed money   

    Do you really have unclaimed money? 

    Do you really have unclaimed money?

    Occasionally, you might read or hear a news report stating that you should check with your state’s government to see if you have unclaimed funds. For whatever reason, you may have some money owed to you by the state. Sometimes it may be a bank account that you’ve forgotten about or it may be a small inheritance that you were totally unaware of. For some of us, it’s the dream to find out that we’re due an unexpected windfall to possibly help us out of our current financial situations. As usual, there are people looking to take advantage of that dream.

    Once again the Better Business Bureau has been receiving complaints about a scam promising unclaimed funds to its victims. It starts out like most scams. You’ll receive some kind of call, mailer, email, or social media message telling you that you have some kind of unclaimed money due to you. All you have to do is call this number and hand over all your personal information in the guise of ‘identity confirmation’. You’ll also be told that you only have a few days to claim your money. However, this is all a plot to steal your personal information for identity theft. That’s not to say that funds can’t be claimed.

    You can check with local or state governments to see if there are unclaimed funds in your name. These services are free so don’t pay any money to services who try to charge you. A good resource to use on how to check for unclaimed funds is the USA.gov website. Good luck on your hunt but don’t be taken in by those who would give you false promises.

     
  • Geebo 8:04 am on October 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    Smart home camera hacked in baby’s room 

    Smart home camera hacked in baby's room

    A California CEO has written a column for The Mercury News where he relays the tale about how his smart home camera system was hacked. It is quite a rather harrowing tale as the digital vandals used the speaker on the camera in the baby’s room to harass the family’s nanny. The anonymous voice on the other end of the camera was using profanity and even threatened to come take the baby at one point. It wasn’t until all the cameras were disconnected did the harassment stop. The father later found out that this is a fairly common occurrence with internet-connected cameras, specifically the brand that he was using.

    The father then tried contacting the technical support arm of the corporation that manufactures the cameras and was on hold for over an hour. He also received emails that continued to push the idea of two-factor authentication to keep out would-be pranksters. The father was not satisfied with this response and has vowed not to use this brand of camera ever again. His outrage can be understood especially for parents with young children because you can never truly know who is watching your home while you’re unaware. A more sophisticated criminal could use such information gleaned from home cameras to tell when a home may be vulnerable to being robbed.

    While the camera maker’s customer service may sound a little tone-deaf as far as the father’s mistrust is concerned, their advice about two-factor authentication is not wrong. 2FA, as it’s known, can go a long way in preventing these cameras from being hijacked. Also if you use the same password across multiple services you could be compromising your security greatly by making it easy for hackers to gain access to your devices. In this case, you may want to try some of the more reliable password managers out there. As we have said before, if you don’t take your internet security more seriously, it’s like having the most expensive lock that you just leave the key in.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: snow, , ,   

    Con men use snowfall to try to fleece victims 

    Con men use snowfall to try to fleece victims

    Scammers are notorious for trying to take advantage of people after a natural disaster. One of the more common times this happens in the US is right after a hurricane. There are so many hurricane-related scams that they are almost a state of emergency themselves. But did you know scammers can use even seasonal weather occurrences to try and take money from unsuspecting victims? They do as one city in the Pacific Northwest recently found out.

    Recently, many western parts of the United States experienced an early snowfall. Some areas received just a light dusting while others experienced up to a foot of snow. Spokane, Washington got hit pretty good by the snow leading to many downed tree branches which can cause headaches for the city’s electrical infrastructure. Loss of power could mean loss of heat as well for many households. Scammers took advantage of this anxiety by posing as the local power company and calling residents to tell them that their power was in danger of being shut off if they did not pay a fee. One person who received one of these calls didn’t believe the call was legitimate and said that she was refusing to pay. She was then transferred to another person who claimed to be a manager.

    The power company in Spokane said that they always send out paper notices through the mail before terminating someone’s service. That probably goes for most utility providers as well. If you receive a call like this no matter where you live, hang up and call your local utility company to make sure that your account is actually in good standing. And while it’s not mentioned in this particualr story, never make any payments over the phone using any kind of gift card as this is almost guaranteed to be part of a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , open enrollment,   

    Medicare fraudsters target seniors during Open Enrollment 

    Medicare fraudsters target seniors during Open Enrollment

    The Open Enrollment period for Medicare subscribers just opened. This is the time of year where Medicare recipients select their health insurance plans for the next benefit year. This process can be extremely stressful and confusing even for insurance industry veterans. With so many options to choose from and so many changes made each year, it can be difficult for seniors to keep up with all the necessary policies and paperwork each year. So it should come as no surprise that fraudsters will be plentiful during the Open Enrollment period.

    Once again the Better Business Bureau is warning Medicare recipients of the various scams that go around this time of year. One of these scams takes the form of receiving a phone call offering you a free back or knee brace, except you’ll have to give up a lot of personal information to receive the item. Another common scam is someone calling you and asking for your Medicare number then telling you that there is a problem with your benefits or some form of fraud has been committed with your coverage. Either way, the scammers will try to tell you that you’re in danger of losing your benefits. The calls can even appear as they’re coming from Medicare’s official phone number.

    Your Medicare plan will only call you if you’re already a member of that plan. If you feel uncomfortable taking the call, you can always call your insurance company’s customer service number back. As a general rule of thumb, you should never give your Medicare or Social Security number to anyone over the phone. Medicare and your insurance company already have your information and don’t need you to repeat it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Potential modeling scam poses threat 

    Potential modeling scam poses threat

    The modeling scam isn’t one we discuss often but it can have potentially devastating effects. The damage can range anywhere from simply being swindled out of a substantial amount of money to becoming the victim of an online predator. Modeling can artists like to prey upon the insecurities of their victims and promise them lives of luxury and fame even though the odds of becoming a legitimately successful model are about the same as someone becoming a successful professional athlete. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped victims from being scammed and the swindlers are always looking for new ways to find more victims.

    For example, recently in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina, a number of women were sent text messages asking them if they wanted to be models for Victoria’s Secret. The texter was reportedly posing as a former model and asked the women for photos, personal information, and possibly a meeting. Authorities in the area believe this could potentially be a plot to recruit victims for human trafficking. Usually, human traffickers rely on social media to try to recruit victims instead of text messaging. However, the women that were texted in Myrtle Beach are all public figures in their profession and their numbers could have been obtained in any number of ways.

    If you are thinking about getting into the modeling industry, have realistic expectations and do your research on the pitfalls it entails. What may sound like a great job could be any number of ways you can put yourself in danger. While you may be able to find one or two legitimate modeling jobs online, for the most part, legitimate modeling jobs are done through modeling agencies. The Federal Trade Commission has a website on how to tell if a modeling job is legitimate or if you’re dealing with shady charlatans.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sim jacking, sim swapping,   

    SIM Swapping can cost you thousands if you’re not careful 

    SIM Swapping can cost you thousands if you're not careful

    Freelance British food writer Jack Monroe recently made news when she found out that someone stole the phone number to her smartphone. They were then able to transfer the number to another phone where they had access to some of her financial information and were able to steal £5,000 from her personal account. That amount equates to close to $6,300 in the U.S. This is a trick known as SIM_Swapping or SIM-Jacking named after the SIM cards in most smartphones that contain your calling information including your phone number. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to protect yourself against the attack.

    SIM Swapping works when the victim is targeted by someone with knowledge of how the attack works. First, they get your name, address, and date of birth, then they contact your cell phone carrier to try and convince them that they are you. If the attacker is successful, he can get the carrier to switch your number to their phone. The attacker can then receive all your calls, texts, emails and the like. That way they can receive the two-factor authentication texts that would allow them to access any of your sensitive online accounts including banking.

    While most victims of SIM Swapping don’t notice the attack until it’s too late, there are some steps you can take to try to protect yourself although nothing is a guarantee of preventing such an attack. You can instruct your cell phone carrier to require a PIN number if anyone calls to try and have any portion of your service changed. As with most PINs, don’t make it something obvious that an attacker can guess like your birthdate. You can also sign up for a Google Voice number which is much more secure and tougher to attack than a traditional cell phone number but work just like a traditional phone number and they are also free to get.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    BBB scam stats that may surprise you! 

    BBB scam stats that may surprise you!

    The Better Business Bureau recently released some statistics about scams in this country. While some of them may seem obvious there are some that come as a surprise even to us. The BBB recently issued a report called “Exposed to Scams: What separates victims from non-victims” that you can read at this link, however, it is in PDF form. The BBB surveyed 1400 people who filed reports about scams to them. Out of those 1400 people, 43% did not engage with the scammers. 30% engaged with the scammer but did not lose money. 23% engaged with the scammer and lost money.

    The most common scams were said to be the tech support scam, followed closely by tax collection scams, and online purchase scams. The median amount lost in scams was $600 which is up from $152 in 2018. What also is telling is that out of 91% of people who were approached by scammers on social media, 53% of them lost money. Respondents also include in their survey that people who sounded more official were more likely to con victims out of their money. However, the surprising statistic to come out of this report is that younger people are more vulnerable to scammers than the elderly even though the elderly have long been the targets of many scammers.

    Once you’ve been scammed, it becomes easier to spot a scam when it approaches you. However, you don’t have to be a victim first in order to avoid a scam. There are lots of great resources online that can educate about what scams are new or resurfacing. For one there’s our blog here at Geebo, as we like to keep up to date on the latest scams and when the older one appears with new twists. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website listing a number of current scams. And as always, the Better Business Bureau has its famous BBB Scam Tracker.

    As the saying goes, knowledge is power. And we want you to have the power to stop these con artists from making victims out of consumers.

     
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