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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , impersonation scam, , , tax return   

    Tax season scams you should look out for 

    Tax season scams you should look out for

    By Greg Collier

    This coming Monday, January 24th, the Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting tax returns for 2021. The deadline to have your return submitted to the IRS is April 18th this year. And with tax season starting, there are a number of tax return related scams that you should be aware of.

    The most devastating scam that affects taxpayers is when an identity theft files a return in your name. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if you’ve been a victim of this scam is receiving a letter from the IRS informing you that a duplicate return has been filed. The best way to protect yourself against this scam is to file your taxes as early as possible. If you’ve had your information leaked in a previous data breach, this is the best option for you to avoid having to straighten things out with the IRS. However, if you do become a victim of this scam, contact the IRS right away. The longer you wait, the more difficult it could be to get your tax return.

    Another area where tax season scammers thrive is the tax preparation industry. If you intend to have a professional file your taxes, research that professional or company first. The Better Business Bureau suggests avoiding tax preparers that only set up shop until the tax deadline. If you end up being audited by the IRS, will that tax preparer be there to assist you? Also, be wary of tax preparers who tie their fee to your tax refund. Fees are supposed to be based on how difficult it is to complete your tax return, not your refund.

    Tax season is also when scammers will attempt IRS impersonation scams. The scammers will call their victims, posing as the IRS and demanding payment for any number of reasons. The one thing all these impersonators have in common is that they will try to pressure you into making a payment over the phone. The IRS does not call taxpayers about tax issues. If the IRS has a concern that they need you to resolve, they will always contact you through the regular mail.

     
  • Geebo 8:59 am on November 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , impersonation scam,   

    New bank scam plaguing customers 

    New bank scam plaguing customers

    By Greg Collier

    As if bank customers didn’t have enough to worry about as it is, another scam with a familiar hook has started appearing. Much like the recent spate of Zelle scams, more scammers are calling their victims, posing as the victim’s bank. This particular scam is a little more disheartening because the scammers already have a lot of the victim’s information.

    Again, like many bank scams that have happened recently, the scam starts with a call to the victim from a scammer pretending to be from the customer service department of the victim’s bank. The victim is asked if their debit card has been used out of state. When the victim responds that they haven’t been out of state, they’re then urged to cancel their card due to fraudulent activity. The scammers already have the last 4 digits of the victim’s debit card. As the bank, the scammers then ask for the victim’s PIN, so they can ‘confirm’ the card’s cancellation.

    Once the victim gives the scammers their PIN, the scammers are off to the races, as they’ve already gleaned the victim’s debit card number from any number of data breaches. The only thing the scammers needed was the PIN, and from there they can drain the bank account the debit card is attached to. This scam has already been reported in Kentucky and could be on the way to spreading nationwide.

    If you ever receive a call from your bank about fraudulent activity, politely hang up and call them back at the customer service number on the back of your debit card or on the bank’s website. You can also visit your bank’s local branch to resolve any issues. Most importantly, never give your PIN to anyone over the phone unless you’re absolutely certain you’re speaking with your bank.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , bitcoin atm, impersonation scam, ,   

    Victim loses $21,000 to Bitcoin ATM scam 

    Victim loses $21,000 to Bitcoin ATM scam

    By Greg Collier

    A woman from Michigan was really taken for a ride by scammers. Before it was all over, she had lost $21,000. The scam had started, like many do. One scammer had called the woman posing as a US Border Patrol agent. She was told that a bank account had been opened in her name and was linked to criminal activity. She was then instructed to remove $21,000 from her own bank account and deposit it into a Bitcoin ATM at a gas station not to far from where she lived.

    It seems that this wasn’t enough to intimidate the victim into making the deposit. She was asked what was the nearest police department to her, and she gave that information to the caller. She then received a call from someone posing as the chief of police, from her local police department. Furthermore, she was told that if she didn’t comply with the phony border agent, she would be committing a crime. It was at this point the victim deposited the money at a Bitcoin ATM. It wasn’t until she told other family members that she realized she had been scammed.

    Bitcoin ATMs have become increasingly popular with scammers due to the cryptocurrency’s perceived anonymity. However, no law enforcement agency will ever ask you to move money in such a way, even if an account in your name was being used for fraudulent activity. At the worst, you may have some agents or police officers asking you a few questions in person. The mention of any type of cryptocurrency should also be a dead giveaway to a scam.

    If you receive one of these calls, hang up and call the agency they claim to be calling from at their non-emergency number.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: impersonation scam, , , ,   

    New Medicare card scam is back 

    By Greg Collier

    Currently, we are in the middle of Medicare’s open enrollment period. This is the time of year when Medicare recipients can either stay with their current coverage or seek out a new plan. As we have previously mentioned, open enrollment is also open season for Medicare scammers. This is the time of year when many scammers use Medicare’s open enrollment as an opportunity to try to steal their victims’ Medicare information. The stolen information can then be used to file fraudulent Medicare claims.

    One of the ways scammers get this information is to pose as Medicare and call people to tell them they’re getting a new Medicare card. The scammers will then ask the victim to ‘verify’ their Medicare number and other information so they can issue a new card. A woman in Tennessee was approached by scammers over the phone and was told she was getting a new Medicare card that had a chip in it like a debit or credit card. The woman even asked if the caller was from Medicare or a third party, and the scammer claimed to be from Medicare. The woman knew this was a scam and gave the caller some phony information before hanging up on them.

    The main thing to keep in mind with Medicare scams is that unless you have an ongoing issue with your Medicare coverage and have spoken to an actual Medicare rep, Medicare will never call you. Any major communications that Medicare has with its recipients is done through the postal mail, that includes when new cards are to be issued. If someone calls you claiming to be from Medicare, hang up, even if the caller ID says they’re calling from Medicare. As we’ve known for some time, any phone number can be spoofed.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , impersonation scam, , security card   

    Gift cards are not ‘security cards’ 

    By Greg Collier

    We have long said that if someone is asked to use a gift card for anything besides a gift, it is almost assuredly a scam. Once a scam victim buys a gift card and gives the scammer the card number, that money is immediately lost to the scammer. We can’t stress this enough that no legitimate company or agency will ever ask for payment of a debt or service in gift cards. As more consumers become aware of gift card scams, scammers have to adapt their tactics in order to fool their victims.

    Lately, there has been a rise in the Amazon impersonation scam. This is where scammers send out emails or text messages that look like they’ve come from Amazon. The messages say that an expensive item was fraudulently purchased through the victim’s Amazon account. The messages include a fake customer service number to call. Once the victim calls the fake customer service number, they leave themselves open for a number of scams.

    For example, a woman in Colorado recently fell victim to this scam. She says she received a call from someone posing as an Amazon agent. The victim was told that in order to prevent her account from being hacked that she needed to buy a ‘security card’ from a local retailer. She was informed that both Apple and Google have these kinds of cards. However, security cards aren’t really a thing, and these were just gift cards. After she gave the card numbers to the scammer, the scammer continued to hound the victim for more money, promising that the next payment would definitely secure the victim’s Amazon account.

    If you receive a message or call from someone claiming to be from Amazon and there’s fraudulent activity on your account, don’t just take their word for it. Before taking any action given by the message, check your Amazon account for any fraudulent activity. If there isn’t any, then you can disregard any instructions you received as being part of a scam. And just because a scammer calls something a ‘security card’ doesn’t make it so.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , impersonation scam, , , social security lock card, SSA   

    New trick added to Social Security scam 

    By Greg Collier

    When it comes to impersonation scams. The Social Security Administration is probably the most impersonated government agency. Con artists often do this because Social Security benefits are largely used by seniors, and in many cases it may be their only source of income. So, when a Social Security recipient is threatened with their benefits being cut off, they might not react in the most logical manner to a scammer. Scammers are constantly adapting their tactics to intimidate seniors into giving them what they want, whether it’s money or information. Recently, scammers have come up with a new angle to try to get seniors to hand over their money.

    From New York to Hawaii, authorities are warning Social Security recipients about the latest rash of Social Security scam calls. As usual, scammers are posing as the SSA and calling people to tell them that their Social Security status is in jeopardy. Seniors are being told that they’re under investigation by the SSA and that their Social Security numbers could be locked. The scammers add that this could affect their bank accounts and employment. The scammers are now telling seniors they can prevent this by buying a Social Security lock card, which doesn’t actually exist. This usually leads into scammers telling their victims they can purchase the lock card by buying gift cards and providing the fake SSA with the card numbers.

    As always, when it comes to gift cards, they should only be used for gifts. No legitimate company or agency will ever ask for them as a form of payment to settle any kind of charge or debt. Also, as we said, the SSA is probably the most impersonated agency when it comes to scams. Scammers can easily spoof phone numbers and make it appear as they’re calling from the SSA’s office. Unless you’ve contacted the SSA first due to an ongoing issue, they will rarely call you. Instead, the SSA does the bulk of its communication through mail. The SSA will also never threaten you with termination of benefits or any kind of prosecution. If you receive a call like that, hang up without even talking to the person on the other line.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on September 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , impersonation scam, , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Counterfeit Cash, Timeshares, and more 

    Getting scammed after being scammed

    By Greg Collier

    Here we are bringing you another handful of scams that you should be aware of.

    ***

    We start off with a scam out of the state of Delaware. A restaurant in the state’s capital, Dover, received a call from someone posing as the U.S. Marshals Service. The caller told an employee that they received complaints that the restaurant had been giving out counterfeit money as change. The caller also said that they would be at the restaurant in 30 minutes to ‘inspect the cash’. The employee was even threatened by the caller, stating they were currently watching the restaurant. The employee called the actual police instead. We’re not sure what the endgame of this scam was, but keep in mind that law enforcement will never call you to tell you what they’re investigating.

    ***

    In the state of New York, the Attorney General’s office is having to deal with scam letters that were sent out posing as the AG’s office. The letters indicate that the recipient is entitled to money due to a debt settled over the sale of timeshares. The NY Division of Consumer Protection has come out to let the public know that these letters are fraudulent, even though they contain the state seal. If we had to hazard a guess, we’d say that the scammers were probably trying to get New York residents to pay a ‘service fee’ to get their supposed pay out. This is known as the advance fee scam. If you get a letter like this and have doubts to its authenticity, call the agency at a phone number on their website and not one that’s on the letter.

    ***

    Police in Grand Island, Nebraska, are warning residents about a number of complaints they’ve received about scammers posing as employees of Apple. The scammers are telling residents that there has been suspicious activity on their Apple accounts and that they need to remotely access your computer to resolve the problem. As you can guess, once scammers have access to your computer, they can take all the information from it, including your banking info if you use your computer for that. Monolithic companies like Apple will never call you to tell you there’s a problem. The same goes for Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. If you can’t even call some of these companies, they’re not going to call you. Anyone who asks you for remote access to your computer is almost always going to be a scammer.

    ***

    While these scams might not be happening to you now, they could in the future. Hopefully, you’re now prepared to recognize them.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: border patrol, impersonation scam, , ,   

    FBI: The Border Patrol is not coming to get you 

    FBI: The Border Patrol is not coming to get you

    By Greg Collier

    Previously, we’ve seen the Border Patrol scam target seniors almost exclusively. In this scam, the scammers would call up an elderly target posing as an officer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The scammers claim that someone rented a car using the target’s identity near the Mexican Border, and the car was found with drugs in it. The target will then be informed that there’s now a warrant out for their arrest. However, the scammers will say they believe that the target’s identity has been stolen. They’ll just need a payment in some non-monetary form to supposedly secure the target’s identity. Without the payment, though, they’ll still be forced to arrest the target.

    The FBI is now warning citizens that there has been a dramatic increase in this scam, and it’s not just targeting the elderly. A reporter from Los Angeles recently received one of these calls. She knew it was a scam and played along with it anyway. It was a robocall that warned the recipient that CBP has seized a car registered under their name that contained illicit drugs. The reporter was then asked to press 1 to speak to a CBP officer. When the ‘officer’came on the line, the reporter said she knows this is a scam and wanted to know where the caller was from. The caller said he was from Afghanistan and threatened to blow up the reporter’s home. According to an FBI agent, there’s no evidence to indicate that the caller was from Afghanistan or that the threat was credible.

    As with most scams, the FBI recommends not answering phone calls from numbers you don’t recognize. In this case, the scammers used a block of numbers used by the reporter’s employer. So even if it looks like a local call, the number can be spoofed. Also, if you take a moment to think about it, the call makes less sense. No law enforcement agency is going to call someone that they’re supposedly investigating. Even if it was a case of stolen identity, and the car full of drugs existed, agents would want to speak to you in person. Lastly, you may also want to keep in mind that police or federal agents will never ask you for money over the phone.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , impersonation scam, , , ,   

    FBI twist added to sweepstakes scam 

    FBI twist added to sweepstakes scam

    By Greg Collier

    Police in Oregon are warning about a new rash of sweepstakes scams or advance fee scams, as they’re sometimes known. In this scam, the scammers pose as a sweepstakes company, usually Publishers Clearing House since they’re the most well-known. The victim will receive a call, text or email telling them that they’ve won a big jackpot, except they need the victim to pay them taxes or a processing fee. Also, the victim needs to keep this matter private, so the local media supposedly doesn’t find out. These scams often target the elderly and when a victim pays once, the scammers will keep coming back for more. Now, scammers are using a new tactic to make sure the victim keeps paying.

    According to a report out of Oregon, the sweepstakes scammers make the victims pay by check. Once the scammers receive that check, they’re calling the victim back, posing as the FBI. The phony investigators tell the victim that the check they wrote was fraudulent. The scammer then threatens the victim with arrest if they don’t make another payment. Essentially, the scammers are combining two scams into on, the advance fee scam and the police impersonation scam. As you probably surmised, the police impersonation scam involves scammers posing as police, usually telling the victim they have a warrant out for their arrest, and that the victim needs to pay over the phone to make the warrant go away.

    Please keep in mind that you can’t win prizes from a sweepstakes you never entered. Plus, it’s also illegal for any sweepstakes to make you pay for any prize. As far as the FBI goes, no law enforcement agency will call you on the phone asking for money and threatening you with arrest if you don’t pay. The report from Oregon gives a great tip when it comes to police impersonation phone calls. Ask the caller for their phone number and tell them that you’ll call them back after speaking with your attorney. If they try to pressure you into staying on the phone, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: impersonation scam, , ,   

    Your Venmo friend may not be your friend 

    Your Venmo friend may not be your friend

    By Greg Collier

    Payment and wallet apps like Venmo have been a great convenience for consumers. They can allow you to make payments to friends or make purchases without having to carry cash or a card that could be easily lost. As a modern society, we seem to be more protective of our phones than our methods of payment. However, we also sometimes seem to forego security over convenience, which has led to a number of these apps being used in scams. Venmo is not a stranger to these scams, but a new scam has emerged which may have Venmo looking at one of its features.

    In our opinion, the major drawback to using Venmo is that by default, your purchases and transactions are available on a public feed. That means anyone who knows your Venmo username can see who you’ve paid and where you’ve shopped. Scammers are well aware of this and are now creating Venmo accounts that look exactly like one of your friends’ accounts. The scammers will then contact their targets asking for money, and once that money leaves your Venmo account, it’s almost impossible to retrieve. Why this public feed is considered a feature on Venmo is beyond us.

    There are steps you can take to make your Venmo account more secure. The first thing you should do is make all your transactions private, which you can find the instructions for here. The second thing you can do is verify with your friends if they’re the ones actually asking you for money. That may require an awkward conversation depending on the situation, but that’s better than losing your money. You should only use apps like Venmo with people you know and verified merchants. Anybody else could be a security threat. Enable two-factor authentication to keep opportunists out of your account if they become in possession of your phone. Lastly, if you have the ability to do so, link a credit card to your account, as it will give you more protection than these apps offer on their own.

     
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