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  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , ,   

    New scam promises money if you stay home 

    New scam promises money to stay home

    Just when we thought COVID-19 scams were on the decline, we read about one that we would consider impressive if it wasn’t so reprehensible.

    The Florida Attorney General’s office has warned residents of the Sunshine State about this new and elaborate scam. At the heart of the scam is a promise of receiving grant money from the U.S. Treasury if you just stay home during the current pandemic. The scam seems to be mostly targeted at senior citizens. The scammers were even said to have created a phony website that appeared as if it was an official U.S. Treasury website. The phony website was said to be so convincing that it even had phony video testimonials.

    Victims of the scam would often be directed to the phony website by messages from their friends on Facebook. These messages were often sent through hacked Facebook accounts by the scammers themselves.

    The fake website would ask people for their personal information including Social Security numbers and banking information. It would also ask for payment to insure the grant delivery that will actually never come.

    The website has since been removed, however, as the Miami Herald points out, it could reappear at any time.

    In order to prevent falling victim to a scam like this always make sure any federal website address ends in .gov. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not authentic. If anytime a Facebook friend messages you about getting grant money, the odds are more likely that their account has been hacked. Grant scams similar to this one have been spread around Facebook for years.

    If you’ve fallen victim to this website in Florida it’s recommended that you contact the Attorney General’s office. If you’re not in Florida we recommend contacting the Federal Trade Commission.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , covid-19,   

    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 May 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , covid-19, ,   

    Contact tracing scam is still being used 

    Contact tracing scam is still  being used

    Contact tracing is basically medical detective work when it comes to contagious diseases. While it’s currently being used to try to disrupt COVID-19 infections, in the past, it’s been used to try to prevent infectious diseases like tuberculosis and measles from spreading. It works when treating an infected person and finding who they have been in close contact with and trying to get those individuals tested for the infection.

    If someone was found to have been in contact with an infected individual, they should receive a text message from their local health department saying that they will soon receive a phone call from their health department. The process behind modern contact racing still has a lot of hurdles to overcome as shown by the following video.

    Now, that hasn’t stopped scammers from trying to imitate the legitimate text messages that would be sent out in case of a potential infection. The phony texts are sent out en masse hoping to trick as many victims as possible. It will appear like the legitimate text messages but instead of telling you’ll receive a call from the health department, it will instruct you to click on a link.

    Once you click the link, you’ll be asked for personal information like your social security number, bank account information, and credit card number. None of this information would be needed by your local health department. At least not your financial information.

    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 make rash decisions that you normally wouldn’t make otherwise.

    If you receive one of these texts that asks you to click on a link, take a breath and think about it for a moment. If there is any concern that you may have actually been in contact with someone who has been infected, your best bet is to contact your local health department.

    The CDC has a website where you can find information for each state’s health department.

     
  • Geebo 8:39 am on May 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , ,   

    COVID test scam targets elderly 

    COVID test scam targets elderly

    During the current crisis, the elderly are not only the most vulnerable to the virus but could also be the most vulnerable to coronavirus related scams. Once again, an old scam has been repurposed for the global pandemic and it involves seniors’ healthcare.

    According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are posing as Medicare employees offering coronavirus home testing kits. They ask their victims for personal information including seniors’ Medicare information. Tests are sent to the victims but again, no home test has been approved for use by the FDA. The BBB says that these scammers are more than likely committing Medicare fraud and are billing these tests to Medicare. If Medicare is paying the scammers for these tests, this could affect Medicare coverage for future coronavirus testing by doctors.

    If you receive one of these calls or possibly an email from someone claiming to be from Medicare offering you a test kit, either hang up on the call or delete the email. Whatever you do, please do not respond to any of these offers. Keep in mind that if Medicare was actually calling you, they wouldn’t need to ask for your Medicare number.

    This also goes for people on private health insurance as well. Your insurance company isn’t going to offer you an at-home test kit and won’t ask you for your ID number. If your insurance company ever does need to call you, they’ll already have that information on hand.

    Both Medicare and private insurances mostly communicate with patients by postal mail. Anybody claiming to be them with some kind of offer is either an identity thief or an insurance fraudster.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , ,   

    More details about COVID rental scam 

    More details about COVID rental scam

    It seems the rental scammers have gone all-in during the current pandemic. Prior to the current social distancing guidelines, rental scammers would make up any excuse they could to avoid meeting their victims face to face.

    In a typical rental scam, the scammer will copy a legitimate real estate ad. Usually, the property from the real estate ad is for sale. The scammer will then change the ad to appear the property is for rent before posting the phony ad on someplace like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. The fake rental rate will almost always be well below the current market value. When someone applies to the fake ad, the scammer will try to pressure the victim into sending either a deposit or first month’s rent without allowing the victim to inspect the property. The scammers would give excuses like they were out of town on business and couldn’t show the property. In many cases, scammers used to say they were overseas doing mission work for their church. The range of excuses the scammers would give would range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Now, with COVID-19 still looming as a potential health threat, the scammers have a built-in excuse not to meet with their victims.

    To make matters worse, scammers are now using a new trick when questioned if an is fake. In the San Francisco Bay Area, one man questioned whether or not a rental listing on Craigslist was a scam since the property was below local market value. The scammer responded by saying that the federal government has asked property owners to lower rents during the current crisis. Of course, the federal government has done no such thing. The confusion is understandable as both local and federal governments have made many conflicting statements about the pandemic.

    Usually, the scammer will ask for payment through some untraceable means like wire transfer, gift card, Cash App, or cryptocurrency. If a landlord asks for payment in any of these ways, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:54 am on May 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , covid-19, ,   

    Secret shopper scam gets a COVID revamp 

    Secret shopper scam gets a COVID revamp

    With the way the economy has reacted to the current pandemic many people now find themselves unemployed. Some of these people will turn to non-traditional jobs to try to make ends meet. This could cause people to apply for jobs that really aren’t jobs at all but well-organized scams. One job scam that seems to continually claim victims id the secret shopper scam.

    Now, there are legitimate secret shopper positions offered by many retailers. There just aren’t as many as you might think after seeing all the ads online for secret shopper job offers. In the secret shopper scam, you’re almost guaranteed to be ‘hired’. You’ll then be sent a phony check to cover your expenses and payment. You’ll be asked to deposit the check at your bank, use some of the money for the ‘job’ before being asked to send the excess amount back to the scammer. As with any scam involving phony checks, once your bank discovers the check is a fake, you’ll be responsible for the entire amount of the check to your bank while the scammers are long gone with your money.

    Now, with scammers ramping up their activities during the pandemic, the secret shopper scam has gotten a coronavirus twist. At least one report has stated that jobs are being offered online to become a social distancing compliance auditor. The phony job offer not only asks you to go to a retailer to rate customer service as a secret shopper but also rate their adherence to social distancing guidelines. However, just like the secret shopper scam, the check you’ll receive for payment is a fake.

    As we said, there are real positions for secret shoppers across America. If you’d like to inquire about one of these positions you can do so through the website of the Mystery Shopper Providers of America.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, ,   

    Scam threatens to infect your family with COVID 

    We’ve posted before about various scams that threaten either the victim or their family with violence. The first one that immediately jumps to mind is the virtual kidnapping scam where someone calls you and tells you a loved one has been kidnapped and demands a ransom. In reality, the supposed kidnap victim is fine. Another scam in a similar vein is the cartel scam where the scammer claims to be part of a criminal cartel that has targeted your family if you don’t pay them. The scammer will then send a violent picture claiming it to be their last victim. However, the scammer is targeting random people hoping that someone will pay to stop their fictitious demands. With this currently being the quarantine era, of course, there is a version of this scam that involves COVID-19.

    In this updated version of the scam, the scammer will send you a phishing email that may contain the actual username and password to one of your online accounts. These can usually be obtained on the dark web or hacker forums after major data breaches occur. The scammer will threaten to expose all your ‘secrets’ if you don’t pay them. They’ll then say if you don’t pay they’ll infect every member of your family with coronavirus but not in such a polite manner.

    “I know every dirty little secret about your life,” the email reads. “To start with, I know all of your passwords. I am aware of your whereabouts, what you eat, with whom you talk, every little thing you do in a day.”

    “You need to pay me $4,000,” it goes on. “If I do not get the payment: I will infect every member of your family with the coronavirus. No matter how smart you are, believe me, if I want to infect, I can. I will also go ahead and reveal your secrets. I will completely ruin your life.”

    These threats are mostly hollow as these scammers are usually overseas and have no way of really knowing your day to day interactions. again, the scammers are hoping for that one person that believes their claims. If you receive one of these emails your best bet is to simply delete the email. Don’t respond to it even to tell off the scammer as they will then know that your email address is a working one. Just to be on the side of caution you may also want to change your password on whatever account they claim to have compromised.

     
  • Geebo 8:22 am on April 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , covid-19, , , ,   

    Some sites slow to pull bad COVID products 

    Some sites slow to pull bad COVID products

    As we have mentioned before, the current pandemic has been a boom period for all sorts of con artists and scammers. The scams started even before coronavirus even started claiming all the headlines. Even before stay at home orders were issued, scammers were already online selling masks that didn’t exist or harmful snake oil cures. Even with all that we currently know about COVID-19 these scams are continuing unabated. Now, these scams even have an air of legitimacy as many of them are appearing on legitimate commerce sites. The problem is that these commerce sites are slow to pull any dangerous or false products if they even pull them at all.

    A tech company by the name of Proxyway performed an investigation into several e-commerce sites that were selling harmful products that either claimed to test for or cure COVID-19. These dangerous products were reviewed by medical professionals to determine how harmful they were. The sites that Proxyway investigated were Alibaba, AliExpress, Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay. Alibaba and Craigslist would take up to a week before the hazardous products were removed. eBay would take an average of three days while Amazon would take an average of two. While two and three days may seem like a short time, any number of people could have ordered these risky products from what they might assume are legitimate retailers.

    While sites like Amazon and eBay employ reviewers to look out for unsafe products they’re still not infallible. Craigslist is worse since it relies on community policing which has bitten craigslist in the past. Just because something is on a website, no matter how legitimate the website might be, you can’t assume the product is safe, especially when it comes to COVD-19.

    As of the time of this posting, there are no cures for COVID-19 and there are no commercially available home testing kits.

    For all valid information about COVID-19 please visit Coronavirus.gov.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , , , ,   

    More info on stimulus delays 

    More info on stimulus delays

    Even with a large number of Americans having already received their economic impact payments, many still have not. We’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the delays and we’re going to try to answer them as best as possible. However, please keep in mind we are not tax experts and we defer all final authority to the IRS’s Coronavirus and Economic Impact Payments website.

    The most common questions we receive are about the stimulus payments and Social Security. While we don’t have the answer for every situation, from what we understand, payments are supposed to start going out this week. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone on Social Security benefits will receive there’s this week so you should plan accordingly. From everything that we’ve read, if you receive Social Security benefits you’ll receive the stimulus payment the same way you receive your Social Security payments even if you’re not required to file taxes.

    If the IRS does not have any payment information on file for you, you’ll receive a paper check if your eligible for the stimulus payment. Paper checks will be issued in order of annual adjusted gross income. That means that the people who claimed the least income on their 2018 or 2019 tax returns will receive their paper checks first. This article from Forbes contains a schedule of when paper checks are scheduled to be issued depending on your gross income. The highest earners may have to wait until September before receiving their paper checks.

    Lastly, we’ve been hearing some discussion about whether or not US citizens who are married to immigrants will receive a stimulus payment. There is an element of truth to this but it’s not as cut and dry as most people think. If a U.S. citizen is married to an immigrant who does not have a Social Security number and file taxes jointly, neither person is eligible for the stimulus payment. However, if the U.S. citizen filed a single return, they are eligible for the stimulus payment. If a U.S. citizen is married to an immigrant who has a Social Security number and filed taxes jointly, both persons are eligible for the stimulus payment.

    We hope this clears up some of the confusion.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , , ,   

    Of course there’s a coronavirus puppy scam 

    Of course there's a coronavirus puppy scam

    With the current stay at home orders, many people are turning to pet adoption to combat the inherent loneliness associated with the quarantine. Pets have been shown as a way to help combat the depression and anxiety that many people are experiencing for the first time. However, before we get to the heart of the matter, we’d be remiss if we didn’t advise our readers that pets are a commitment. You should only get a pet if your current financial situation allows it and you plan on keeping your new friend once the quarantine is over. It doesn’t help anyone if you have to give up your pet.

    Online puppy scams are nothing new. The way they normally work is a scammer posts an ad online for a popular breed of puppy at a heavily discounted price. Once you pay the scammer they’ll either just take off with your money or try to bleed more money out of you with fake charges like insurance or shipping costs. Many scammers will say that something went wrong during the shipping process and more money is needed to correct the issue. In the end, you’ll end up out of a lot of money and have no puppy to show for it. Now, scammers are saying that you have to pay extra to have the non-existent puppy shipped because of coronavirus safeguards. Most scammers will also try to have you pay through untraceable means like wire transfer and gift cards.

    If you’re thinking of adding a new furry friend to your life, try to shop for your pet locally. We always advise adopting from your local animal shelter as they have many healthy and friendly pets available for adoption. Some shelters even have notification lists where you can be informed if you’re looking for a certain breed. If you’re going to deal with a breeder, please make sure they’re a licensed breeder as there are too many backyard breeders selling sick pets just for the money.

    Just like any other transaction, you’ll make the best choice once you’ve done your research before making a big life decision like getting a puppy.

     
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