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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam, , ,   

    Is your cell phone provider giving you a gift? 

    By Greg Collier

    Cell phone carriers are always fighting to get more customers. Even though just about everyone has a cell phone these days, major and minor carriers are continually looking for ways to either steal customers from their competitors and retain the customers they already have. They usually do this by offering on your cell phone plan or better phones than their competition. Some carriers even often gifts in the form of pre-paid debit cards as a loyalty reward. As usual, scammers know this and are now trying to take advantage of these programs by posing as cell phone providers.

    Within the past few months, customers of AT&T have been reporting receiving text messages that claim to be from the phone industry leader. The text message says something to the effect of ATT FREE msg: December bill is paid. Thanks, here’s a little gift for you. The text message then contains a link scammers are hoping you click on.

    If you do click on it, you’re taken to a website that has the AT&T logo as a header. You’ll then be asked to click on a button to see what your supposed free gift is. The button then takes you to a survey which requests scores of personal data. Not only could that data be used for identity theft, but could also be sold to other scammers to perpetuate other scams where text messages are involved.

    The best way to avoid this scam is to check the web address the message wants you to click on. Unless it’s from att.com, it’s almost assuredly a scam. Plus, it’s always good practice not to click on any links in text messages from people you don’t know personally. If you think the text message may legitimately be from your phone carrier, call them at the customer service number on your bill or their website.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lending scam, , , phone scam, , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: Don’t let strangers use your phone and more 

    Scam Round Up: Don't let strangers use your phone and more

    By Greg Collier

    We’re closing out the week again with another trio of scams that have popped up around the country.

    ***

    Our first scam comes to us from Charlotte, North Carolina. Residents there have been complaining about a bold scam that takes advantage of your kindness. The scam involves people coming up to you asking to use your phone. The scammers will have some kind of story like hey’re car broke down and can they use your phone to call someone. Once they have your phone, they’ll open up whatever payment app you have on your phone and send all your money to the scammers account. In Charlotte, residents there have said that Venmo was specifically targeted, but this scam could be used on any payment app. The best way to prevent this from happening, outside of letting no one use your phone, is to enable the security features on your accounts. Usually, you can secure your accounts with a PIN or have them require your fingerprint or facial recognition.

    ***

    Speaking of North Carolina, the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina is warning consumers about phony lenders who are really looking to pull off an old scam. In this scam, the lender promise an easy loan, and will deposit a check in your bank account. The scammers will then demand you to buy loan insurance before the check even clears. However, the check never clears as it’s a fake, leaving the victim responsible for the check’s amount to their bank. These phony lenders usually promise you won’t have to undergo a credit check. This should be your red flag, as all legitimate lenders will have you undergo a credit check. Also, no one seeking a loan should respond to unsolicited offers they may receive through text or email.

    ***

    Lastly, the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa is warning their residents about a text messaging scam that threatens to lock their phone. Consumers there have been getting texts that appear to come from their cell phone providers telling them that their phone will be locked if they don’t make a payment. The text also contains a link that should never be clicked on. The link will either inject malware into your phone or it will ask you for your financial information. If you receive one of these texts or one like it, call the customer service number that appears on your bill or on the provider’s website.

    ***

    Please keep in mind that scams like this aren’t confined to the area where they are being reported on in the news. They could just as easily be happening in your area.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: phone scam, , ,   

    Did Venmo lead to a kidnapping scam? 

    Did Venmo lead to a kidnapping scam?

    By Greg Collier

    As we have said previously, payment apps like Venmo are a great convenience for consumers. Venmo allows its users to make payments to friends and family or make a purchase without having to carry cash. However, it has a peculiar feature that’s enabled by default, and that’s the user’s public feed. It allows just about anyone to see a user’s Venmo activity, such as whom they paid and how much. The feed can be made private, but many users don’t even know the feed even exists. The feed has been used in a number of Venmo-related scams, but this is the first time we can recall it being used in such a harrowing scam.

    A woman from Georgia received a phone call that came up in her caller ID as coming from her mother. Somehow, the scammers were able to ascertain her mother’s phone number and spoofed it. The scammers claimed they were in her mother’s house and were holding her mother hostage. They demanded $2500 to be paid through Venmo. She only had $500 in her account, and the scammers accepted that. Meanwhile, the woman’s boyfriend was on the phone with the woman’s brother, who was at the mother’s home at the time and verified no kidnapping was taking place. However, the woman had already sent the scammers the money, and Venmo makes it easy to block users once the transfer has been made. It’s believed that the scammers knew she was a Venmo user by guessing random usernames to see if that brings up a public feed. The woman had just used Venmo that day.

    As you may know, this is known as a virtual kidnapping scam, and it has become prevalent over the past few years. If you were to receive a phone call like this, your initial reaction may be to believe what you’re being told. However, kidnappings for money are actually very rare in the United States. What you should do is try to get in contact with the person who has been supposedly kidnapped, either through using a different phone to call them or some other means of communication. You can also ask to speak to the supposed hostage and ask them a question only they would know.

    Scammers often use fear as a tactic to get their victims to give them exorbitant amounts of money. However, if you have the knowledge to thwart them, you’ll have nothing to fear.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , phone scam,   

    How one grandparent scam worked 

    By Greg Collier

    Three people from the East Coast were recently arrested in Tennessee for allegedly running a grandparent scam ring. Their arrests give us an insight into one of the ways the grandparent scam works in taking advantage of senior citizens. In a nutshell, the grandparent scam is when a scammer calls an elderly person posing as one of their grandchildren. The fake grandchild will say they’re in some kind of trouble and need money, and will instruct the victim not to tell anyone else. This is the basic premise of the grandparent scam, but as we’re about to find out, there are different variations of the heart of the scam.

    The three suspects who were arrested in Tennessee are all said to have traveled from the East Coast. This leads us to believe that they may have traveled from region to region committing scams along the way, as many scam rings do. Instead of posing as the victims’ grandchildren, these scammers were said to pose as bail bond agents. They would then say that one of the victims grandchildren had been arrested and needed bond money. The local police who arrested the suspects said that the suspects were very methodical in studying their victims to where they actually knew the grandchildren’s names. The scammers are said to even have acted as their own couriers, going to pick up the money from the victims themselves. Some victims came forward to police, which is what is believed to have led to the suspects’ arrests.

    While the police said that the scammers were methodical in researching their victims, it’s not hard to imagine where the scammers got their information. More than likely, they gleamed their information from social media. It’s natural for people to be proud of their relatives and share that information, however, that information is often made public online and can be used in scams like this. You may want to think about making your social media profiles set to friends or family only.

    If you do receive a phone call like this, don’t react right away. If your grandchild were to be in some kind of legal trouble, they’re not going to be in more trouble if you verify their story. Also, while it may be difficult in the moment, try not to give out any of your grandchildren’s names on the call. If the caller says “Grandma”, ask who it is first. Often these scammers don’t have your grandchild’s name. Call other family members or the person directly to make sure they’re ok, then contact your local police.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam,   

    Google Voice scam affects online sellers 

    Google Voice scam affects online sellers

    By Greg Collier

    Google Voice is a pretty useful app to have. If you sign up for Google Voice, it allows you to have a second phone number for free. If you use it normally, the Google Voice number will ring your current number. However, you can also set it to do not disturb mode, calls to your Google Voice number will go straight to voicemail. One of its best uses is to use as nuisance avoidance. If someone wants your phone number, and you prefer not to trust them with your actual number, you can give them your Google Voice number instead.

    For some of the same reasons, scammers love Google Voice. The problem for scammers is they don’t want the Google Voice number tied to their own phone number. Instead, the scammers will try to trick a victim into have the Google Voice number tied to the victim’s number. This happened recently to a woman who was trying to sell something online.

    In her ad, she had her actual phone number listed. She received a call from someone posing as a buyer. When the woman tried to set up a meeting arrangement, the buyer said that they were going to send the woman a Google Voice code to verify that the woman’s listing was legitimate. The buyer kept asking the woman for the code that was sent, but the woman felt like she was being scammed and did not give the code to the scammer.

    If she had given the scammer the code, the scammers would have been able to sign up for a Google Voice number that would have been tied to the woman’s phone number. The scammers could have used the Google Voice number to commit more scams and if anyone looked into the number, it would have traced back to the victim.

    If someone you don’t know asks for a code that was sent to your phone, there’s a good chance that it’s an authorization code that scammers can use to wreak all sorts of havoc. They can be trying to get you to turn your bank account over to them, or you could be giving them access to any one of your online accounts.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam, ,   

    Amazon refund call is a scam 

    Amazon refund call is a scam

    By Greg Collier

    Lately, it seems that Amazon has been used the most by online scammers. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve posted about a couple of different scams where scammers have posed as Amazon employees to fleece their victims. In both cases the victims were told that someone made a false purchase on their Amazon accounts. One victim was approached by email while the other received a robocall. Now, there’s a scam going around using the Amazon name that’s not using the false order angle. This scam uses the one thing that could motivate someone more than a phony order and that’s a refund.

    Many people from around the country have reported receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from Amazon. They are then told that due to fraud activity on their account that they’re due a refund. The first catch is that the fake Amazon rep needs remote access to your computer. The second catch is that the victim is asked to log into their Amazon account. If that wasn’t enough, the victim is then asked to log into their bank account, so the refund could be processed. Yet, the scam still isn’t over. The scammer will then try to convince the victim that they were refunded too much money and need to buy gift cards to pay back the overage. This is a scam on top of a scam on top of a scam. Scamception if you will.

    You should never allow anyone to have remote access to your computer. No legitimate company or agency would ever need remote access to your computer. Not only does this allow anyone to peer into your private files, but they could also plant any kind of malware into your system. If you log into your Amazon account while you’re remote sharing, the scammers will now have your Amazon login information. The same goes for your bank login. And of course, gift cards should only be for gifts and not for making any kind of payment. As we are fond of saying, gift cards have become the currency of con artists.

    If you were actually due a refund from Amazon for whatever reason, it would be automatically returned to whatever card you used to make that purchase. Amazon will not call you out of the blue to tell you that you have a refund.

     
  • Geebo 9:19 am on March 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , icloud, phone scam, ,   

    Victim loses $15,000 in iCloud scam 

    By Greg Collier

    iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service that it supplies to its users for free up to 5 GB of storage. If you’re not an Apple or iOS user, iCloud is akin to Google Drive, Microsoft’s One Drive, or Dropbox. A few years ago, iCloud made the headlines when a number of celebrities had the contents of their iCloud accounts leaked to the internet. So, in theory, iCloud accounts can be hacked. Scammers know this and use this fear as a way to trick their victims who may not be that technically savvy as one woman in Missouri recently discovered.

    The 86-year-old woman was expecting an important call from her daughter when she answered her phone. The person on the other line claimed that the woman’s iCloud account had been hacked along with 42 other iCloud users. The scammer then told the woman that she would need to buy gift cards in order to protect her data. Since the woman used iCloud frequently she complied. She ended up buying 29 $500 gift cards for Walmart. When store clerks asked her what all the gift cards were for, she was instructed by the scammers to tell the clerks that the cards were for her grandchildren. The scammers told her that she would be reimbursed, but instead she was out $14,500.

    Tech support scams and their variants have been around since the dawn of the internet and continue to find victims. However, these scams are easy to thwart. All you need to keep in mind is that none of the big tech companies are ever going to call you out of the blue. That includes Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and the like. The best way to keep your personal storage accounts safe is to use a password that is difficult to guess. Password managers are a great tool to assist you with this. It also helps if you don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Again, this is where a password manager comes in handy.

    However, if someone calls you out of the blue to tell you that your account has been hacked or your computer has a virus, hang up on them. The tech companies will never call you and no one can remotely tell if you have a virus on your computer.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , phone scam,   

    Scammers keep elderly victim from asking for help 

    Elderly victim loses thousands in FBI scam

    An elderly Pennsylvania woman was recently taken for over $5,000 by scammers pretending to be FBI agents. The scammers called her and claimed that her bank account had been compromised by criminals. They then told her not to tell anyone else as it could jeopardize the investigation. However, in order to assist with the investigation, they needed her to withdraw money from her account.

    The scammers kept her on the phone while she withdrew money from the bank. The bank was concerned that this withdraw may have been part of a scam. When they asked the woman what the withdraw was for, the scammers were said to have instructed the woman to tell the bank it was for an emergency medical procedure.

    It was at this point the scammers instructed the woman to purchase gift cards with the money she withdrew. The store where she bought the gift cards even tried warning her that this was a scam. Unfortunately, she went through with the purchase anyway. She then gave the phony agents the numbers off the back of the cards.

    While it’s not expressly mentioned in the news report, we can imagine that there were probably some threats of arrest if the victim didn’t comply with the scammers’ requests.

    Keeping the victim on the phone while they withdraw money and buy gift cards is a disturbing new trend that we saw start to take hold this year.

    If you receive one of these phone calls with someone claiming to be from a law enforcement agency asking you to make some kind of payment, hang up. No law enforcement agency will ever ask you for any kind of money over the phone. Also, no real law enforcement agency would ever have you buy gift cards for any reason.

    Due to their almost untraceable nature, gift cards have become almost the de facto currency for scammers. If anyone asks for payment in gift cards, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam, ,   

    Police scam takes affluent area for millions 

    Police scam takes affluent area for millions

    Every once in a while, when we get feedback from one of our posts someone will inevitably say that they can’t believe that someone fell for whatever scam we’re posting about that day. The reality is that anyone can fall for a scam if they don’t have the information to recognize a scam. Things like economic status and education level mean do not automatically protect you from con artists.

    For example, take Montgomery County, Maryland, Not only is the Washington DC suburb one of the most affluent counties in the United States, its residents have the highest percentage in the country of residents over 25 years of age who hold a post-graduate degree. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped various police impersonation scams from taking $1.5 million from local residents.

    While the scammers are using different variations of police impersonation scams, they are tweaking them slightly for their upscale targets. In one case, the scammers called a psychotherapist and told them that they avoided a subpoena in a case where they were supposed to testify as an expert witness. In order to avoid arrest, the victim was told to pay a $7000 fine. They were instructed to buy a prepaid debit card because no one could come into the police department because of COVID.

    With other victims, the scammers have used the rental car trick. They’ll pose as police to tell the victims that a rental car was found in their name that contained drugs. Again, the scammers will request payment to ‘clear up’ the situation, usually through some untraceable form of payment like gift cards, prepaid debit cards, money transfer, or cryptocurrency. In Montgomery County’s case, the scammers added that if the victim pays quickly they’ll avoid media attention.

    In one case, someone made payment to the scammers by putting $100,000 into a shoebox before mailing it to California.

    In the majority of cases, police will almost never call you to resolve any kind of legal matter. You’ll either be contacted by mail or officers will come to your home. Also, no legitimate government agency will accept payment in untraceable means like the ones listed above. If you ever receive a phone call like this and think there might be an issue, hang up and call your police department’s non-emergency number and explain the call to them.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam, ,   

    Social Security scams are still targeting seniors 

    Social Security scams are still targeting seniors

    Every once in awhile it’s beneficial to review some of the more common scams that are going on today. One of the most common scams are those that threaten to affect the Social Security benefits of senior citizens. Due to the fact that many seniors are on a fixed income, any threat to their Social Security could be seen as a threat to their very existence.

    How the scam typically works is the scammers will call a senior citizen and claim to be from either law enforcement or from the Social Security Administration themselves. They’ll tell their victims that someone has used their Social Security number in some type of crime. The most common crime they claim is that your number was used to rent a car in another state that was found to have illegal drugs in it.

    The scammers will then threaten that your Social Security benefits could be suspended. However, they’ll say that in order to prove your identity you can make a payment over the phone. This is when the scammers will ask for payment in some untraceable means, usually retail gift cards.

    This happened recently to a woman in Ohio. She was told that she needed to empty her checking account before it would be seized by the government. The scammers kept her on the phone the entire time she was buying Target gift cards. Scammers have started doing this to make sure that someone won’t warn them of the scam such as store clerks or bank employees. Before it was all over, she had sent $4000 to the scammers.

    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.

    Again, we ask that if you know an elderly person or couple who live alone and do not have access to the internet, please let them know about this scam.

     
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