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  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 27, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , phone scam,   

    Medicare scammers don’t know you have Medicare 

    Medicare scammers don't know you have Medicare

    By Greg Collier

    Medicare scammers are some of the worst. There are few things more heinous than threatening the elderly with the health benefits they earned in life. Scammers often call their elderly victims, posing as Medicare, while trying to get the victim’s Medicare information. This way, the scammers can file fraudulent claims under the victim’s Medicare policy. The victim’s will often be told benign things like Medicare is issuing a new type of ID card. Or they’ll be threatened with the loss of their benefits if the victim doesn’t comply with the caller.

    Here’s something to keep in mind, though. Most of the time, Medicare scammers are calling people blind, hoping they have Medicare. For example, a man in Indiana receives up to 35 calls a day from Medicare scammers. Except, the man hasn’t reached the age when most people enroll in Medicare. The man believes the reason he keeps getting so many scam calls is because he did what you’re supposed to do with a phone, he answered it. Once scammers know that they’ve reached a legitimate number and there’s an actual person on the other end, they continue to spam that person with phone calls. This isn’t strictly for Medicare scammers, either, as many different types of scammers will employ the same calling technique.

    As far as Medicare scams themselves go, please keep this one piece of information in mind. Medicare will not call you on the phone, unless you called them first with some kind of issue or concern. Medicare will not call you, asking you for your Medicare number. They will also not call you to offer you discounts on medical equipment or supplies. If Medicare does need to communicate with you, they will do so exclusively by postal mail. Even if the caller ID says that it’s Medicare calling, unless you called them first, that’s not them.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 11, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , phone scam, ,   

    Never hand over your phone for candy 

    Never hand over your phone for candy

    By Greg Collier

    A woman from New York City thought she was being charitable when she handed her phone to a pair of teens who said they were selling candy. Like many of us, the woman said she had no cash on her. Also, the woman didn’t want any candy, but the teens said she could make a donation if she wanted to through payment apps Zelle or Venmo. The woman used Zelle on a regular basis and wanted to make a small donation.

    In order to send someone money on Zelle, you need to know their email address or phone number. The woman asked the teens for a phone number to send the money to, but the teens said they’ll enter the number on the woman’s phone for her. The phone was handed to the teens who entered the phone number on the Zelle app and the woman made a five dollar donation and thought nothing of it. That was until she went to the grocery store and discovered her bank account was empty. Before giving the woman back her phone, the teens sent $1800 from the woman’s account to the phone number they entered.

    There’s another variation of this scam we’ve discussed before. Typically, it involves the scammer claiming they’re in some kind of situation where they need to make a phone call, but their phone is dead. The scammers often claim their car has broken down, but there are other situations they use in this scam. Once the victim hands over the phone to the scammer, the scammer will open up one of the victim’s payment or banking apps and send the victim’s money to another account. The scam has often been called the Good Samaritan scam.

    Getting back to today’s scam, it turns out the whole incident was caught on the security camera footage at the coffee shop where the woman was approached. The victim thought she wouldn’t have any issue getting her money back from her bank since she had proof she was scammed. However, like with most victims who have been scammed through Zelle, Bank of America allegedly refused reimbursement, since to them, it appeared like the victim had authorized the transaction. Also, like many Zelle scam victims, B of A said they would reopen the investigation after the victim took her story to local media.

    To better protect yourself from a scam like this, try to avoid handing your phone over to strangers, and especially don’t hand them the phone while one of your financial apps is open. Please keep in mind that apps like Zelle and Venmo are only supposed to be used between family and friends. If your phone has a fingerprint reader, consider using that to secure your payment apps on your phone, or at least use a PIN.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 10, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , phone scam, , ,   

    Can scammers freeze your phone? 

    Can scammers freeze your phone?

    By Greg Collier

    Sometimes, the better story isn’t what’s in the headline, but what’s buried in the body. For example, take this story from Durango, Colorado. In it, a local coffee shop is targeted in a police impersonation scam that specific to small businesses. Scammers called the shop posing as police, and told one of the shop’s employees that one of their bank deposits was made with fraudulent bills. The employee was told the shop could be in trouble if someone didn’t make a $1500 payment.

    Thinking they were talking to the police, the employee took the $1500 and left the shop to arrange the payment through a money transfer service. The employee was sent a barcode that could be scanned at the point of transfer to send the money. However, sometime during the call, the scammers asked for the phone number of the shop owner, which the employee gave them.

    Another employee saw the first employee leave with the money and called the shop owner. The shop owner tried calling the employee who took the scammers call, but the call function from their phone had been disabled. Could the scammers have remotely disabled her phone just by having her phone number?

    Most of the attacks we’re aware of that can disable your phone, cannot be implemented almost instantaneously like that. In most cases, the user of the phone would need to accidentally download some kind of malware. Or, the scammers would need to do a SIM-swapping attack, which can’t be performed that quickly. So, was the shop owner’s phone attacked, or was their phone freezing just an unfortunate coincidence? Unfortunately, we can’t say for certain, but local police are examining the phone for answers.

    To better protect your phone from such attacks, it’s best to install an antivirus program and occasionally run scans on your phone for malware. As far as the business cam goes, keep in mind that actual police departments and law enforcement agencies will never call you asking for money. That’s not how the police or banks work. If you own a small business, you may want to share this story with your employees.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 7, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , phone scam, , ,   

    Thousands lost in SIM-swapping attack 

    Thousands lost in SIM-swapping attack

    By Greg Collier

    If you own a smartphone, how lost would you be without it? We’re not talking about losing your phone in the couch cushions. We mean, how much would your personal life be at risk if your phone was stolen. For many, their smartphone is the only device they need to conduct their lives. For even more, their entire lives are contained in their smartphone. Bank accounts, email, family photos, and schedules are just a few of things that could be accessed through a stolen smartphone. Now, what if we told you that you can lose all these things from your phone without physically losing the device?

    SIM-swapping is a type of cybercrime where an attacker takes control of a victim’s mobile phone number by tricking the victim’s mobile carrier into transferring the number to a new SIM card. Once the attacker has control of the phone number, they can use it to access the victim’s online accounts, such as email, social media, and financial accounts, which often rely on text messaging for two-factor authentication. Then the attacker can not only access your accounts, but they can lock you out of them as well.

    Recently, a man from Colorado lost $24,500 out of his savings account after his phone received a SIM-swapping attack. The victim received an email from his bank that a large transfer was being made, but by the time he was able to contact his bank, the transfer had already gone through. You can almost imagine the shock on his face when he tried to call his bank, only to find out his phone had no service.

    There are several effective ways to protect yourself from SIM-swapping. One is to use an authenticator app instead of relying on text messages for two-factor authentication. Authenticator apps are linked to a device instead of a phone number, making them more secure. Additionally, it’s important to avoid using accurate information for security questions on online accounts, such as high school mascots or pet names, as this information can often be found on social media. Lastly, you can contact your carrier and request that they disallow any device switches on your account, but keep in mind that to unfreeze your account, you may need to visit a carrier store and present identification.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 17, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam, ,   

    Don’t hand your phone to strangers 

    Don't hand your phone to strangers

    By Greg Collier

    Before the advent of the smartphone, your wallet used to be the one thing you couldn’t leave the house without. Now, except for drivers’ licenses, just about anything your wallet used to hold can be done though your smartphone. Many smartphone superusers don’t even carry wallets anymore and just use their phone. Thanks to tap to pay platforms like Apple Pay, many don’t need to even carry their debit or credit cards anymore. However, too many smartphone users don’t treat their phone like they would their wallets.

    In a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, some teenage scammers set up shop outside a supermarket. They claimed to be selling candy to help their football team. Like many of us today, their victims were not carrying cash. When the scammers were told by the victim they didn’t have any cash, the scammers would ask if the victim could support their YouTube channel. The scammers then offer to pull up their YouTube channel on the victim’s phone. What the scammers were really doing was going into the victim’s Cash App and sending the victim’s money to themselves. Some victims were taken for $300 while at least one other lost $1800 to the scam.

    This is a variation of a scam we’ve seen before. Previously, scammers would act as if they needed to call someone as if they were in an emergency situation. The scammers would then use the victim’s unlocked phone to access any number of financial accounts.

    The scam described above is essentially the same as handing someone your wallet so they can put their business card inside it. You wouldn’t just hand your wallet to a complete stranger so you shouldn’t do so with your phone.

    However, if you still want to help people out who may be needing your phone’s assistance, there are ways to protect yourself. Many apps like Cash App and Venmo have security precautions you can enable, so these apps can only be accessed by the phone’s owners. These can be done either by using a PIN or fingerprint scan, depending on the type of phone being used. This way you can still help those in need to make phone calls without risking your finances.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: phone scam, , , , ,   

    This phone scam could steal your life 

    By Greg Collier

    How much of a panic would you be in if you lost your phone? Can your personal or business email accounts be accessed through your phone? Is your phone locked with a PIN or password? Or is it secured using a fingerprint or facial ID? Do you have banking apps that require a PIN or fingerprint to access? Could any random stranger just pick up your phone and start accessing your money and information? Even if your phone is completely locked down and secure from physical access by outsiders, there’s still a way you can lose all access to your phone without actually losing your phone.

    There is a scam out there that most mobile phones are vulnerable to, and it’s known as SIM-swapping. The name SIM-swapping is a misnomer, since physical access to your phone’s SIM card is not necessary. SIM-swapping works when scammers or identity thieves contact your mobile phone carrier and pose as you. The scammer will use information they’ve found out about you to convince the phone carrier they are you. This is known as social engineering.

    Once the scammer convinces the phone carrier that they’re you, they’ll have the phone company switch your service from your phone to theirs. As soon as that happens, the scammers have direct access to your phone number and text messages. Since most of us who use two-factor authentication have the authorization codes sent to our text messages, the scammers can then access any number of your personal accounts, including your financial accounts.

    This recently happened to a victim from Tennessee. She had received a text message from her carrier indicating a change on her account before her phone service went completely dead. She called her carrier, and another name had been added to the account. By the time she had her service restored, scammers had transferred thousands out of her bank account through the Zelle app.

    There are ways to protect yourself from SIM-swapping. One way is to use an authenticator app instead of using text messages for your two-factor authentication. Authenticator apps are tied to the device instead of being tied to a phone number. Also, when filling out your security questions for online accounts, don’t give the correct answers. Information like your high school mascot or your pet’s name can be discovered on your social media. Lastly, you can contact your carrier and tell them not to allow any device switching on your account. However, to get your account unfrozen, you may have to visit your carrier’s store with your ID.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam, , ,   

    Would you fall for this convincing scam? 

    Would you fall for this convincing scam?

    By Greg Collier

    A lot of like to think we’re scam-proof, that it’s impossible for scammers to pull one over on us. For example, I received a robocall the other day that said they were calling from Amazon and there had been a $1499.00 charge on my account. I hung up because I knew it was a scam. But just to be certain, I checked my Amazon account and credit card I use for Amazon purchases. Both had no record of any such transaction. Now, that’s a low-pressure scam if you know what to look for. But what if the pressure was intense and immediate. Would you be able to remain calm?

    We’ve discussed the virtual kidnapping scam, or ransom scam, before. This is when scammers call a victim to tell them that they’ve kidnapped a loved one and demand money. In reality, the scammers don’t actually have your loved one hostage. However, even if you might be familiar with the scam, scammers can make it so convincing that in the heat of the moment, you may question yourself.

    A man in Ohio recently received one of these calls. The number that came up on his phone belonged to his mother from Florida. After he picked up the phone, the man heard a male voice with a female voice screaming in the background. The caller stated he carjacked the man’s mother and would harm her if the man didn’t pay the caller. The way that we’ve phrased it, makes it sound so clinical. However, the language the caller used made it seem real. Here are some quotes from the conversation that the man recorded.

    Caller: “Man, guess what? I’m going to start beating your mom, I’m going to start beating her right now.”

    Caller: “If I see the police, I’m going to k*** myself too, but I’m going to take her (expletive) out.

    Caller: “Bro, I’m going to tell you one more time. She ain’t going to be all right if you don’t hurry the (expletive) up.”

    There were other explicit threats of violence as well that we’re leaving out for the sake of civility.

    The caller was demanding payment through Cash App and PayPal. Luckily, the man had trouble remembering his PayPal password. While he was trying to reset the password, he had his wife call his brother on her phone, since his brother lives near his mother. When he got word that his mother was in no danger, he hung up on the scammer. The man even admitted that he panicked and had no idea what to do, even though he made the correct action.

    Scammers will either find us at our weakest or try to put us in that state of mind. Can any of us say we wouldn’t be panicked if we were in this man’s shoes? This is just one of the many reasons we shouldn’t belittle scam victims. There are so many scams out in the wild that any one of us could fall victim to them if the right circumstances emerge. Instead, we should be thanking scam victims who come forward for making us aware of these scams.

    Again, what the man did in this instance was the right thing to do. If you ever receive a phone call like this, try to use a second form of communication to contact the person the caller has claimed to have kidnapped. Kidnapping for ransom is rare in the United States, but you still want to make sure your loved one is safe. Also, don’t be afraid to call the police, as they can be of great assistance in these matters.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam, pizza delivery, ,   

    Scammer stalks victim through pizza delivery 

    Scammer stalks victim through pizza delivery

    By Greg Collier

    Two of the many things we try to hammer home about scammers is they will stoop to any length to scam someone, and once they find a victim, they’ll try to scam them again. We’ve seen scammers show up at funerals pretending to collect money for the deceased. We’ve also seen scammers pose as the families of crime victims, so they can open a GoFundMe account to attempt to garner donations. In other scams, we’ve seen scammers that repeatedly set out to fleece the same victim after they were successfully scammed. Today’s story has a little bit of both of those aspects of scams within it.

    An elderly man had been scammed for thousands of dollars. While there aren’t details on what scam it was, there’s enough evidence to suggest it was the grandparent scam. The local sheriff’s office tried to help the man from being scammed again. They suggested he turn off his cell phone, and the man also changed his landline phone number.

    The scammer had so much information about the man that the scammer knew the pizza parlor the man liked to order from. The scammer then had a pizza delivered to the man’s home. The scammer also had a note included with the pizza asking the man to call his ‘grandson’ with the scammer’s phone number attached.

    In this South Carolina county alone, over $1.3 million has been lost to scams in the past year. That amount is probably even more if you consider the losses that weren’t reported. According to the sheriff’s office, arrests are few and far between, and it becomes more a plan of defense rather than one of apprehension. They also say that the best way to prevent yourself from becoming the victim of a scam is time. Essentially, don’t give out any money or information without taking some time to assess the situation first.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: phone scam, ,   

    Some phone scams are in person 

    By Greg Collier

    We talk about phone scams almost all of the time. So many scams are perpetrated either with or through smartphones. Whether it’s fake calls from someone pretending to be your bank, or an impostor landlord only communicating through text, the device that brings us the most convenience in our lives can also be the most risky. These scams are typically perpetrated from a great distance away. However, there is at least one phone scam that not only can be done under your nose, but can also take a lot of your money.

    A report out of Colorado Springs calls it a new scam, but unfortunately, it’s been around for at least a little while. In this scam, a stranger will say that they need to call a friend or relative and will ask to use your phone. Wanting to be a good Samaritan, a victim may unlock their phone and hand it to the person needing to make a call. What happens next is the person supposedly in distress makes it look like they’re trying to make a phone call. What they’re really doing is going into your payment accounts like Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle to send your money to themselves.

    There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from this scam. The first is to no hand the phone number. Instead, ask the person for the number they need to call and hold up the speaker for the person to use. You can also lock down your money transfer accounts with a PIN or require your fingerprint to access them.

    Most of us will always want to help people in need. Unfortunately, it’s become difficult to tell the difference between scammers and the needy. Hopefully, we’ve helped keep your guard up enough where you can help those in need and not get scammed.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , phone scam, , , , ,   

    Scam Round Up: 3 phone scams worth noting 

    Scam Round Up: 3 phone scams worth noting

    By Greg Collier

    This week in the Scam Round Up, we’re discussing three scams related to phones that have been in the news a lot recently.


    Our first scam has been affecting both T-Mobile and Verizon customers. Users of both services have reported receiving text messages offering them a free gift. The text messages say, “Your bill is paid for March. Thanks, here’s a little gift for you.” The text message also contains a link for customers to click on to get their free gift. These messages are not coming from the phone providers, but instead are coming from scammers. If a customer clicks the link, they’ll be taken to a page where they’ll be asked for their personal information under the guise of verifying their identity. Or, they’ll be asked for payment to cover the cost of shipping the supposed free gift. Of course, there is no free gift to be had. If you receive a text message like this, it’s best just to ignore and delete it.


    The next phone scam is one of those scams that would be ingenious if it wasn’t so harmful. In this scam, scammers are calling their victims and asking them one question, “Can you hear me now?” The scammers are hoping that the victim gives them a ‘Yes’ response, so the scammers can get a voice recording of the victim. This is so the scammers can use the victim’s recorded voice as a voice authorization for any number of reasons. Such voice authorizations can be used to make purchases or access a victim’s bank account in some situations. If someone you don’t know calls you and starts asking you questions, it’s advised that you do not respond. Another way to protect yourself from this scam is to use the ‘if it’s important enough, they’ll leave a voice mail’ method.


    Our last scam has been problematic for us to post about since it involves some adult themes. In this scam, victims receive a text message that comes attached with a picture of a young woman. The text messages say something along the lines of “I was hoping we could repeat last night” or “I haven’t heard back from you, did I do something wrong?”. Many people have responded to the texts, telling the sender they have the wrong number. This lets the scammer know that the victim’s number is a legitimate phone number. In some cases, the scammers have sent explicit images trying to instigate a romance scam. In other cases, victim’s have been lured to dating sites where they’re asked to pay money. Much like the previous two scams, you should not respond to the scammers. If you do, it lets them know that someone is at that number and can be targeted for other scams in the future.


    Since most of us carry are phones with us everywhere we go, scammers can technically target someone at any time of the day, no matter where they are. Hopefully, we’ve given you the knowledge to protect yourself against such scams.

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