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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , text messaging,   

    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 9:00 am on January 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , text messaging,   

    New twist on banking text scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Since this past October, we’ve been warning our readers about the Zelle scam. This is when scammers pose as your bank’s customer service department and try to tell you that there’s been fraudulent activity on your bank account. The scammers will then instruct you to move your money through the payment app Zelle to protect your money from bad actors. What they’re really doing is directing you to move your money from your bank account to the scammer’s account.

    The Zelle scam starts when the victim receives a text message asking them if they recently made a substantial payment or purchase. The text asks you if you made this transaction and asks you to text back a response of yes or no. If you respond to the text either way, the scammers will call you, posing as your bank. Now, a new banking text scam has appeared that shares aspects of the Zelle scam but doesn’t use Zelle.

    In Pennsylvania, bank customers there have received texts informing them that a new payee has been added to their account. That is supposed to mean that someone has been added to the account who can withdraw money. The link contains a text to click on if you did not add this payee to your account. The report doesn’t state where the link takes you, but usually in these scams, they either take you to a fake banking site that tries to steal your information, or a site that will inject malware or spyware on to your device.

    If you ever receive a text that appears to come from your bank about fraudulent activity, do not respond to it, and don’t click any attached links. Instead, call the customer service number on the back of your debit card, or drop by your local branch during business hours.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , buskers, , , , text messaging, violin scam,   

    Scam Round Up: The violin scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    As we move into the holiday weekend, here are three more scams that you should be aware of.


    Most of us have seen street musicians known as buskers. They’re performing out on the street with a hat or an open guitar case, where people can leave tips if they enjoy the performance. I’m sure you’re wondering what could be scammy about that? It seems that there are several people from around the country have been using busking to trick people into giving them money. They appear to be playing a violin that’s hooked up to an amplifier, along with a sign that says they need money for food or rent. Here is one such episode from the state of New York. The phony violin players are actually pretending to play the violin, while the actual music comes from a recording. Some of these phony buskers will even list their Venmo or Cash App accounts, so you can donate to them electronically. If you see one of these fake musicians, you should just avoid them and not give them money.


    It seems the brushing scam has also picked up during the holiday season. This is where someone will receive items from a site like Amazon that they didn’t order. In most brushing cases. This is done so the seller of the item can post a positive review of the product using the victim’s name as a verified purchase. While you can keep anything you receive as part of a brushing scam, the goods are usually not worth keeping. In some instances, like this one, the Amazon account of the recipient has been compromised and is being charged for the items they receive. If you start receiving items you didn’t order, check your Amazon account for fraudulent activity and change your password.


    Lastly, residents in the state of Wisconsin have been receiving text messages claiming to be from the state’s DMV. The texts are requesting that residents follow a link to confirm personal information. However, the texts are also threatening residents with a suspension of their license if they don’t comply. No state is going to threaten their residents with suspension of their driver’s license for not following a text link. Not only that, but identity thieves can do a lot with your driver’s license number if they already have some of your other personal information. It’s almost as valuable as your Social Security number.


    Thank you for reading, and here’s hoping our readers have a safe and happy holiday.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , text messaging, ,   

    Delivery scam more common during holidays 

    By Greg Collier

    If you’ve ordered any last-minute Christmas gifts online, you’re probably checking your phone or laptop for delivery updates. After all, we all want to be able to give everyone the gifts they want on Christmas Day. However, the holiday season is fraught with its own sets of pressure and confusion, and scammers are looking to take advantage of that by preying on your anxiety of a potentially missed package delivery.

    The delivery text message scam is not a new one, but like many scams, its activity increases during the holidays. This scam starts out when you receive a text message that claims to be from either Amazon or any number of delivery services, including the US Postal Service. The text message says that the scheduled delivery for your package has changed. The text message also includes a link that it wants you to link for confirmation of the new delivery schedule.

    Links in text messages from people you don’t know are almost always bad news. In the past, these links have led to phony websites that look like Amazon but aren’t. You’d be asked for your Amazon login information before being asked to fill out a survey for a free gift. You’ll then be asked for your payment information to pay for the shipping of the supposed gift. What really just happened is that you’ve willingly given your information to identity thieves who now have access to your Amazon account. These links can also inject malware or ransomware into your device.

    So, how do the scammers know that you’re waiting for a delivery? They don’t. They’re texting random people by the boatload, hoping to get just a few people to fall into their trap.

    Please keep in mind that delivery services will not text you out of the blue unless you’ve signed up for their texting service. The links in the phony texts are often from a web address that has nothing to do with the company they’re pretending to be from.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , pinhole camera, , , , text messaging,   

    Scam Round Up: New sweepstakes scam and more 

    By Greg Collier

    Today we’re our readers three more scams that are happening around the country that could be coming to your area.


    In Raleigh, North Carolina, people are reporting being called by scammers posing as Publisher’s Clearing House telling them that they’re winners in the famous sweepstakes. PCH’s name has been used in scams for a number of years. What’s different this time is the scammers are leaving voicemail messages that say, “This is a legitimate call notifying you that you have won.” That’s the equivalent of leaving a message that says, “We’re totally not scammers, we promise.” If you were to call the number provided, you would more than likely be lured into an advance fee scam, where the scammers would get you to pay a phony tax or processing fee on your winnings. That’s illegal in the US, and why all legitimate sweepstakes say that no purchase is necessary.


    It was brought to the attention of police in Fairfield, California, that an ATM had a small camera known as a pinhole camera attached to it. The camera was attached to what was supposed to be a rearview security mirror. The camera is used in an operation known as skimming. Skimmers are usually attached to the card reader to get the information from your debit card’s magnetic strip. However, the camera helps the scammers get your card number and PIN. Devices like this are normally attached to freestanding ATMs like the ones in convenience stores and gas stations. However, bank ATMs are not immune to these devices.


    Recently, the state of Pennsylvania has issued a warning to its residents about text messages related to unemployment benefits. Some residents of the Keystone State have received text messages saying that their unemployment benefit debit card has been frozen. The text contains a link to supposedly verify the recipient’s identity and card status. Clicking such a link could lead to identity theft or having malware infect your device. The state has said that they never send out text messages with embedded links.


    While these scams may not be happening in your area right now, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t. But now you have the knowledge to protect you if they do.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , death threat, , text messaging,   

    Victim loses $1000 to cartel scam 

    By Greg Collier

    While it’s been a while, we’ve discussed the cartel scam before. Previously with this scam, scammers text their victims claiming to be part of a crime cartel from Mexico. They threaten their victims and the victims’ families with violence if they don’t pay money to the scammers. This is often followed up with violent images texted to the victims, with the scammers claiming this was the last person who didn’t pay. While many of us would deduce that this was a scam, what if we had family that lived on the border?

    A Dallas, Texas man recently received a text from someone claiming to be part of a cartel. The text said that the man owed them money and if he didn’t pay them, they were going to hurt him and his family. The man texted them back saying that he had no idea what they were talking about. The scammers called the man and listed the names of the man’s family members they were going to harm. The man’s family happened to live in El Paso, Texas, which is right across the border from Juarez, Mexico. Juarez is where many of the infamous crime cartels operate out of. The man paid the scammers $1000 before contacting Dallas police, who told him it was a scam. We can’t say we blame the man for falling victim to this scam.

    This is part of the reason why we say that anyone can fall for a scam. There is a set of circumstances where anyone could fall prey to a scammer.

    As far as this scam goes, if you receive text like this, do not respond to it. Instead, you should contact your local police department. Then contact your family members to make sure they’re ok. You should also limit what you share on social media, as that’s how scammers are able to obtain such in-depth information about their victims and their families.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , text messaging, ,   

    Zelle scam keeps making victims out of bank customers 

    By Greg Collier

    Reports are still coming in about the scam that uses the Zelle payment app to drain victims’ bank accounts. In case you’ve missed our previous posts about the scam, scammers are posing as nationwide banks while sending text messages to victims asking them if they’ve made a large purchase. When the victim replies back, they’re then called by the scammers posing as the bank’s fraud department. The scammers tell the victim that someone is fraudulently using their account. The victim is then instructed to make a transfer through Zelle to ‘protect’ their account. Instead, the scammers are directing the money to their own accounts.

    Bank of America has taken the brunt of the criticism in this story, since it seems mostly B of A customers who have been affected. The bank has been seemingly resistant to either issue refunds or recover their customers’ money. Many times they’ve only done so after scam victims have contacted their local media. The scam has become so prevalent across the country that even the New York media is warning consumers about the scam.

    However, it’s not just Bank of America that is seeing their customers get taken for a ride. A number of Chase Bank customers have also reported falling victim to the scam. Recently, an Ohio woman lost $13,000 to the scam, and she was a Chase customer. As of the time of this writing, Chase has not commented on whether or not the woman will be getting her money back.

    The company that runs Zelle is jointly owned by is owned by Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, Navy Federal Credit Union, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, Ally, US Bank, and Wells Fargo. There are other banks that also use Zelle even though they don’t hold ownership in it.

    If your bank uses Zelle and you receive one of these scam texts, do not reply to it. Instead, call your bank’s customer service number from the back of your debit or credit card. That way, you know you’re talking to a legitimate customer service representative. They’ll be able to tell you if there is any real fraudulent activity on your account.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , text messaging, , vaccine passport   

    No, you can’t get your vaccination status on your license 

    By Greg Collier

    Most of us know about the icons on our drivers licenses that indicate whether or not the license holder is an organ donor. In many states, it’s a small heart in one of the corners of the license. In others, it just says ‘organ donor’ listed somewhere on the card. Regardless if you’re a donor or not, we’ve all come to accept these indicators on our drivers licenses. Maybe because of that acceptance, scammers think that we’ll fall for another indicator on our licenses that indicate a more modern status.

    The state of Florida is warning its residents about a text messaging scam where the impostors are posing as the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The text message claims that you can have your vaccination status added to your driver’s license. With the discussion of so-called vaccine passports, this might seem like a reasonable service. Many entertainment and sports venues are requiring proof of vaccination before attending, so wouldn’t it be convenient to just have it marked on your license? In reality, the state of Florida is offering no such service.

    As with most texting scams, the message contains a link that the scammers want you to click on, If you do, you’re taken to a website that looks like it belongs to the Florida DMV. You’ll then be asked for such personal information as your Social Security number, your driver’s license number, and you’ll even be asked to upload a photo of your license. This scam is an identity thief’s dream.

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind to protect yourself from scams like this. The first is to never click on a link in a text from someone you don’t know. Often they’ll take you to risky websites or inject your device with malware. The other thing to keep in mind is that government agencies never use text messaging to announce new services.

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

    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 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , text messaging, ,   

    Text message scams using big name companies 

    Text message scams using big name companies

    By Greg Collier

    We think it’s safe to assume that many mobile phone users would prefer to receive a text message than a phone call. Text message are just so much more convenient than stopping whatever you’re doing to take a call. Except, not every type of communication can be done through text messaging. For example, if you needed any kind of customer service, it would be painstakingly long to do that through text. That’s not even taking into account that text messages have become yet another domain where scammers thrive. Scammers love the anonymity that text messaging allows. This lets them pose as just about anyone, and lately, they’ve been posing as some of the best known companies in the country. We’ve recently read reports that say there a two text message-based scams that happening all over the country.

    The first text message scam we heard about recently is offering COVID-19-based discounts to customers of Verizon, one of the nation’s largest phone providers. Here is an example of what the text message says…

    “COVID-19 REFUND. VERIZON COMPANY is giving out $950 to all users of our Verizon service, If yes kindly text your Verizon.”

    As you can see, the text message isn’t very well written, which is a great indicator that the text message is a scam. The messages also contain a link that you shouldn’t click on as it could do untold damage to your device, or ask you for personal information you shouldn’t be sharing. Not only are scammers posing as Verizon, but they’ve also been posing as Netflix and Hulu, among other companies. As much as we’d like them to be, these companies aren’t in business by giving away money to their millions of customers.

    The other texting scam involves large national banks Chase and Bank of America. In this scam, victims have been receiving texts that say something along the lines of…

    Chase Bank Fraud. Did you attempt $5,000 Zelle-transfer? Reply yes/no/help.


    “Bank of America fraud alert. Did you just attempt a Zelle transaction of $3,500? Please reply yes or no.”

    Most people would probably text no back to the sender. However, the senders are just scammers who are fishing for your banking information. Once someone replies to the text, it’s followed up with a phone call from a scammer posing as bank customer service. The scammers will then walk you through a process on Zelle that allows them access to your bank account. Before you know it, it’s been cleared out. What makes this scam so problematic is that banks do sometimes text their customers to let them know if there has been fraudulent activity on their account. In this case, it’s always best to call the customer service number on your debit card than responding to the text.

    A good way to protect yourself from such scams is to verify any text you receive about money with a phone call. Even if it’s from people you know because any phone number can be spoofed.

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