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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 7, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers easily avoid Zelle warning 

    Scammers easily avoid Zelle warning

    By Greg Collier

    In the news article we read about the latest chapter in the Zelle scam, it says that the Zelle scam is back. To be honest, it never went away. For almost two years, we’ve been documenting how the personal payment app has been used by scammers to defraud victims out of their money. As far as we know, there has been no break in this scam’s activity.

    For the uninitiated, the Zelle scam works like this. The victim receives a text message inquiring whether they have recently made a substantial purchase or transfer. The victim is instructed to reply with a simple yes or no. After the response, scammers follow up with a phone call, pretending to represent the victim’s bank’s fraud department. The fraudsters then urge the victim to safeguard their bank account by either transferring their funds or using Zelle to “pay themselves.” However, what actually happens is that the scammers are guiding the victim through the process of transferring funds to the scammers’ account through Zelle.

    Since these scams have started, it doesn’t appear as Zelle has done much in the way of consumer protection. If you do make a money transfer using Zelle, a warning does appear, which advises users not to send money to anyone they don’t know personally. Yet, the scam persists. So, what clever trick have the scammers devised to circumvent this warning? Is it nefarious malware that suppresses the warning? Not exactly. The scammers are simply telling their victims to ignore the warning. That’s it.

    Now, keep in mind the scammers are posing as the victim’s bank, who are supposed to have the final authority on a customer’s account. I’m sure we’ve all had to follow instructions at one point where we told to just ignore something. To us, this exhibits the poor protection Zelle has for its users, rather than any fault of the victim.

    It’s important to note that Zelle is intended for use strictly among friends and family, those you have a personal relationship with. Be cautious of any unfamiliar business or individual requesting payment through Zelle, as this could be a potential scam attempt. Remember, your bank will never ask you to move your funds using Zelle.

    If you find yourself falling victim to this scam, your initial step should be to promptly file a police report. While it doesn’t guarantee a refund, taking this action can significantly aid your situation. Moreover, if you believe your bank is not treating you fairly, don’t hesitate to reach out to a consumer advocate reporter in your local area for assistance. Their involvement can provide you with the support you need.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 31, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Do banks only help scam victims when the news gets involved? 

    Do banks only help scam victims when the news gets involved?

    By Greg Collier

    When we started posting about Zelle scams is when we first discovered how unhelpful banks can be when it comes to those who fell victim to these scams. Scammers will walk the victim through the Zelle app to have them transfer money to the scammers under false pretenses. Since the victim made the actual transaction, many banks will tell the victim they can’t get their money back. To the bank, or so they claim, the transaction looks authentic to them, so they can’t issue a refund to the victim.

    However, occasionally, victims will have their money returned to them after they tell their story to their local media. This typically involves the victim going to their local TV news consumer reporter. In turn, the reporter asks the bank for comment, which more often than not results in the bank issuing a refund.

    For example, a Massachusetts woman recently fell for a scam which resulted in her bank account being emptied by scammers. She received a call from scammers who were posing as PayPal to tell her there was in issue with her account. The scammers sent her a link to click on, and when she did, scammers took control of her phone. Before she knew it, $3500 was gone from her bank account.

    Her bank allegedly denied her claim until her local news station got involved. The bank reportedly claimed they reversed their decision after their decision after the victim provided additional information.

    But are these bank refunds a result of the plane crash principle? The principle says that we only hear about the planes that crash, but we don’t hear about the vast majority of planes that continually land safely.

    Are banks issuing refunds to scam victims without the media getting involved? We’d like to think they are, but somehow, we doubt it. As someone once told us, banks are in the business of making money, not issuing refunds. Not to mention, if banks started issuing refunds on demand to scam victims, it won’t be long before scammers start claiming they’ve been the victims of scams.

    The banks need to implement better initiatives to protect their customers from scammers. Education has not been enough, as scammers often intimidate their victims into ignoring the education. If just one major bank came forward with a new program to protect their customers from scammers, we’re sure it would not only be great PR for them, but they would probably attract many new customers.

    However, it will most likely be a long time before that happens. In the meantime, we need to look out for ourselves. If you receive a phone call from any company related to money, like PayPal, Zelle, Venmo, or even your own bank, hang up, and call them back at the company’s official customer service number. You can find these numbers, if the company has one, on their website under the contact section.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 21, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scammers hope you miss your flight 

    Scammers hope you miss your flight

    By Greg Collier

    If you’ve ever had to travel by air, then you’re probably familiar with flight delays and cancellations. Unfortunately, they’re an inevitable part of flying. Or maybe you got stuck in traffic and missed your flight. When this happens, what’s the first thing you do. For some, it’s to get on the phone with their airline to see if they can reschedule a new flight to get to their destination. But very few people have the customer service number memorized or saved to their phone. So, they’ll Google the airline’s number, and the next thing they know, they’ve paid five times the original ticket price and are still stuck at the airport without an updated flight.

    So, how does something like this happen? A couple of ways, actually. Typically, scammers will buy sponsored listings on search engines to have their fake phone number promoted over the official number. Or they pose as the airline and tell the search engine company that their phony number is the new customer service number.

    When a weary and frustrated traveler calls a scam call center, a scammer, posing as a customer service agent, will tell the traveler they can book them a new flight with no problem. Except, the new ticket costs multiple times more than the original ticket price. Then the scammers will either ask for your payment information, or they’ll ask for an unusual payment method like gift cards or cryptocurrency. As you can probably imagine, they’re not booking anyone a new flight, either.

    If you find yourself in this situation, don’t rely on search engines for phone numbers. Instead, go to the airline’s website and find their customer service number there. If you do call an unauthorized customer service number and the customer service rep doesn’t mention the airline’s name when answering your call, that could be a good indicator you’re talking to a scammer. Lastly, when flying, use a credit card whenever possible. Credit cards offer much more protection than a debit card.

  • Geebo 8:01 am on June 14, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: customer service, , ,   

    Don’t pay for a rental car with Zelle 

    Don't pay for a rental car with Zelle

    By Greg Collier

    With many people planning vacations for the warmer weather, there are a number of scams to look out for. We recently highlighted some of them here. Another scam vacationers may want to be aware of involves rental cars.

    When looking to rent a vehicle, make sure you’re speaking to an actual rental car agency. If you do a web search for a phone number to a rental car agency, you may not be given the results you’re actually looking for. Scammers can and have paid web search companies to have their listings show higher than the actual rental agencies in some search results.

    The listing and possibly the website itself will appear like it belongs to one of the brand name agencies like Budget or Enterprise to name a few. However, when you call the number in the listing, you’ll actually be directed to a scam call center.

    This recently happened to an elderly woman from Texas. Her son came to visit, and she decided to rent a car. She thought she was talking to Budget, but was actually talking to scammers. They gave her a great price, but then the scammers asked for a $400 security deposit to be paid through Zelle. Unfortunately, the victim sent the $400 to the scammers and no car was ever delivered.

    To steer clear of this scam while renting a car, it is advisable to utilize the customer service hotline provided on the rental agency’s official website. Nearly all agencies offer a location finder tool on their website, which guides you to the closest branch in your area and provides their respective contact number.

    And when paying for your rental, legitimate agencies will never ask for payment through apps like Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App. Neither will they ask for payment in gift cards or cryptocurrency. If they do, they’re trying to scam you.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 9, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    No change in Zelle scam with scammers or banks 

    No change in Zelle scam with scammers or banks

    By Greg Collier

    In a few months, it will be two years since we first started posting stories about the Zelle scam. Since it’s been a while since we’ve posted about it last, let’s have a quick refresher.

    Zelle is a personal payment app whose parent company is co-owned by several of the nation’s biggest banks. Some of these banks include, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and US Bank, just to name a few. Often, these big banks will have the Zelle service baked in to that bank’s phone app. Many customers of these banks don’t even realize they have Zelle on their devices.

    Zelle is designed to be used between friends and family, much like Venmo and Cash App. However, also like Venmo and Cash App, Zelle also has its fair share of scammers.

    Another problem with the Zelle scam is the banks that use Zelle are very hesitant to offer refunds to the victims of scams. The banks state since the customer authorized the transaction, even under false pretenses, the transaction is considered legitimate. Some banks have only offered refunds after the victim has taken their story to their local media.

    Here is an example of how the scam works. Recently, a man from North Carolina received a text message asking him if he made a $7500 Zelle transfer to a person he didn’t know. The text appeared to come from his bank, Bank of America. The text message said to reply yes or no to the text message. The man sent a text reply of ‘no’, but it wouldn’t have mattered how he replied, since he was actually texting with scammers.

    After he sent his reply, he received a phone call that looked like it was coming from B of A, complete with the caller ID showing the B of A customer service number. The number was spoofed by the scammers, which is an easy thing for them to do. The scammers were posing as customer service agents from B of A. They gave the man instructions on how to protect his money from the fraudulent transaction, but what they were really doing was walking him through the steps to send money to the scammers. In his case, it was $1500. The man claims when he inquired with B of A, they allegedly told him it was his responsibility.

    Anytime you receive a notification that looks like it came from your bank asking you about a transaction or telling you your account is at risk, do not reply. Instead, call your bank’s customer service department directly to verify if there is an actual problem with your account.

    If you’ve fallen victim to this scam, contact police immediately. While it’s not a guarantee of getting your money back, it does go a long way in helping. Lastly, if your bank is refusing a refund, think about going to your local media with your story, as we have seen some successes after victims have done that.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 31, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB warns of Smart TV scam 

    By Greg Collier

    With our homes having more and more internet-connected devices, many of these devices can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. This includes your smart TV or any internet-connected device you may have connected to your TV, like a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. And whenever someone is vulnerable to a cyberattack, scammers are sure to follow. The Better Business Bureau has issued an urgent warning about smart TV attacks, which can cause the victim to lose money.

    Hackers can hijack smart TVs through various methods, including exploiting vulnerabilities in the software, using phishing scams to gain access to the TV’s credentials, or exploiting weaknesses in the network that the TV is connected to.

    One common method is to use malware to exploit vulnerabilities in the TV’s software, such as outdated firmware or unpatched security holes. Once the malware gains access to the TV, it can be used to control the TV remotely and perform a variety of malicious actions, such as displaying fake messages, installing additional malware, or even spying on the user through the TV’s camera and microphone.

    What we’re concerned with today is smart TVs that display fake messages. If a smart TV has been exploited, scammers will prevent the user from setting up their TV properly. A pop-up message will appear on the TV claiming there is an issue with setting up the TV or possibly a streaming service. A phone number is typically displayed within the pop-up.

    If someone were to call the number listed on the screen, they would be connected with scammers posing as a customer service department. The scammers will try to convince the user that a fee is required in order to obtain TV service. More often than not, the scammers will ask for payment in the usual scammer ways, such as gift cards or cryptocurrency.

    To prevent smart TV hijacking, it is important to keep the TV’s software updated, use strong passwords for the TV and network, and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown apps. Additionally, users should be wary of giving unnecessary permissions to apps installed on the TV, such as access to the camera and microphone.

    Also, be suspicious of any pop-up messages that come across your TV asking you to call a customer service department. A Google search for the number could turn up if it’s a scam calling center. If you do need to call a manufacturer or service provider, make sure to get their official phone number of the company’s website.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 15, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Bank tells scam victims they gave ‘consent’ to scammers 

    Bank tells scam victims they gave 'consent' to scammers

    By Greg Collier

    Bank customers are being scammed on an almost daily basis. At least the ones who report the scam anyway, It’s more likely that the majority of recent bank scams aren’t reported to the police or media out of embarrassment. It seems that reports of banks not helping their customers who have been scammed has emboldened the bank scammers to fins more victims since they know the bank won’t do anything about it.

    For example, CBS 2 out of Chicago has done a follow-up story on five local bank customers who lost a total of $100,000 to bank impersonation scams.

    Scammers often follow a typical approach where they contact their targets through calls or messages, asking about their recent transactions. They then use coercive tactics to convince victims that transferring their funds to a different account is the only way to protect their bank accounts. Unfortunately, the account to which the money is transferred is usually controlled by the scammer. These accounts are usually regular checking accounts available through major banks and not offshore accounts.

    Out of the five Chicago victims who CBS 2 spoke with, all five were customers of Chase Bank, and only one of them has been reimbursed. The rest of the victims were told by the bank that since they gave personal information to the scammers, the bank considers that the consent of the customer.

    It also doesn’t help that the legislation designed to protect bank customers doesn’t protect victims from wire fraud. If someone uses the victim’s credit or debit card to commit fraud, customers can be reimbursed for that, but victims of wire fraud are out of luck due to a gap in the regulations. We might also add that these regulations were written in the 1970s. Electronic banking has changed a lot in the past 50 years, but the regulators haven’t kept up with the times. We knew that lawmakers are slow when it comes to updating the law to reflect current technology, but we didn’t realizer they were this slow.

    Some consumer advocates recommend that the banks should require some kind of digital ID before a wire transfer could be made. Others suggest the banks should institute a 24-48 hour delay for wire transfers. While these may sound like good ideas, practical application of them could be a headache for customers.

    What these banks really need to do is to prevent scammers from opening the accounts where the victims’ funds are being wired to. They could even institute a delay when an account tries to close out suddenly.

    At least for now, it’s up to the consumer to protect themselves from these scams.

    In case you receive a text message that appears to be from your bank inquiring about fraudulent activity, avoid using the callback feature provided in the message. Similarly, if someone calls you claiming to be from your bank and asks about fraudulent transactions, it’s best to end the call and directly contact your bank through the phone number provided on the back of your debit card.

    If you’ve been the victim of this scam, don’t hesitate to file a police report. While it’s not a guarantee of getting your money back, it does go a long way in helping.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 1, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Bank to scam victim: “This is on you. We’re out.” 

    By Greg Collier

    Just the other day, we posted a story about how banks are reluctant to reimburse scam victims. This was after stories we posted about how one bank accused a scam victim of being the scammer, and another where scam victims were suing their bank for failing to protect their accounts. The question we keep asking is why can’t the banks stop or reverse these transactions?

    The usual M.O. of scammers involves contacting their targets through calls or messages, inquiring about recent significant transactions. Subsequently, the scammers coerce the victims into believing that transferring their funds to a different account is the sole method of safeguarding their bank accounts. Invariably, the account that the money is relocated to is under the control of the scammer. The bank accounts utilized by scammers are typically not offshore accounts. Instead, they are often regular checking accounts that are available through major banks.

    In a recent bank impersonation scam, two of the nation’s major banks were used. A woman from Seattle got a text that appeared to come from Chase Bank. The text asked her if she had just made a $99 purchase in Florida. The woman called the number back where the text came from and thought she was talking to Chase, but was actually talking to a scammer. The scammer told that to protect her account, she would need to make two $15,000 wire transfers to a Wells Fargo account.

    After realizing she had been scammed, she immediately called Chase Bank and was transferred between eight different departments before someone could help her. By the time she got somebody on the line, the transactions to Wells Fargo had already gone through. Chase told her she would need to fill out paperwork before they could investigate, and that would take at least a week. Chase then allegedly passed the buck, no pun intended, to Wells Fargo. The victim was essentially told that it would depend on Wells Fargo on whether she would get her money back. When she asked Chase for some documentation, she was reportedly told, “We don’t provide that, and we’re out. This is on you.”

    Banks contact customers all the time if they believe a fraudulent purchase or transaction has been made. So, why weren’t either bank suspicious about two wire transfers that totaled $30,000? Why aren’t these transactions being put on hold when a customer claims they’ve been defrauded? And again, why are the banks allowing scammers to open and close bank accounts so quickly?

    If you get a text that looks like it came from your bank asking about a fraudulent transaction, don’t use the callback feature in the text. If someone calls you claiming to be from your bank about fraudulent activity, hang up. Then dial your bank directly at the phone number on the back of your debit card.

    The only way to try to prevent financial loss from these scams is to protect yourself, since it doesn’t appear the banks will go out of their way to help.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 1, 2023 Permalink | Reply
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    Scam Round Up: Scammer dresses as cop and more 

    Scam Round Up: Scammer dresses as cop and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week on the round up, we’re bringing you three scams that may not be new, but have a new aspect to them.


    For our first scam, we have a Nebraska woman who lost $53,000 to a pop-up scam. She got a pop-up on her computer that said someone had used her personal information for online gambling. The pop-up also had a number to call. The woman called the number, and the person she spoke with claimed to be from her bank. She was told she needed to transfer her money to a separate bank account to protect her money. The new aspect of this scam is that she was told when the person who supposedly stole her information tried to take money from her account, they would be arrested. Instead, she transferred her money to scammers.

    Never call any phone number that appears on a computer pop-up. Those numbers only go to scammers, no matter what the pop-up might say.


    Our next scam shows how well-informed scammers can be. In Los Alamos, New Mexico, retirees of the historic Los Alamos National Lab, were recently told their prescription insurance would no longer be taken at Kroger pharmacies. This story doesn’t get any more local. However, it hasn’t escaped the purview of scammers. Residents have reported that they’ve received phone calls from people impersonating the prescription insurance company. These callers have been asking for personal information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

    Health insurance companies typically only call customers when the customer has called them first. Also, the health insurance companies typically don’t ask a customer for their Social Security number, as most insurance companies use their own internal ID numbers for their customers.

    If you get a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from your insurance company, hang up and call them directly at the customer service number on your health insurance card.


    Lastly, we have a disturbing version of the arrest warrant scam, as if that weren’t disturbing enough. In the arrest warrant scam, scammers will pose as local police and call their victims. The scammers will tell their victims they’ve missed jury duty and a warrant has been issued for the victim’s arrest. The victim will then be instructed to make payment through gift cards or pre-paid debit cards. But this scam usually only takes place over the phone.

    In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this scam is said to have stepped into the real world. A man dressed as an officer from the local County Sheriff’s office approached a woman and told her she would need to buy $8,000 in gift cards to avoid arrest for missing jury duty.

    It’s unclear how the victim in this news story was approached, however, if you’re approached by someone you think may be impersonating an officer, there are steps you can take. If you’re approached at your vehicle or home, call 911 and ask them if you’re being contacted by an actual officer. Police dispatch will have a record of it if they are an actual officer.

    No police officer would ever stop someone and threaten them with arrest if they didn’t pay a fine then and there. Police would also never ask for payment in gift cards.

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