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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 19, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    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.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: card shimmers, , gas pumps, , , , , , , , text scam, , urban legend,   

    Scam Round Up: Red light tickets, Homeland Security texts, and more 

    Scam Round Up: Red light tickets, Homeland Security texts, and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week, we’re bringing you a plethora of scams from around the country that you may want to be aware of. You never know when they might come to your area.

    ***

    Some residents of Lauderhill, Florida, have reported receiving phony red light tickets in the mail. Typically, if a motorist runs a red light equipped with a camera, they will receive a ticket in the mail. However, these phony tickets have a few red flags attached to them. In one instance, the date listed on the ticket was February 30th. The tickets also had the insignia of the Fort Lauderdale police for an infraction that supposedly happened in Lauderhill. That’s not to say these phony tickets are harmless. Pictures of the recipient’s license plate appear on the ticket. Police believe the scammers are stalking their victims. If you receive a ticket like this, do not make any kind of payment requested. Instead, contact the police department the ticket is supposedly from to make sure the charge is not legitimate.

    ***

    Residents of the Houston, Texas area have said they’ve received an alarming text message. The text message claims that phones in the area have been hacked, and you’ll receive a call asking about your vaccination status. Supposedly, if you reply to the phone call, your banking information will be stolen from your phone. It doesn’t end there, though. The text message also claims the Department of Homeland Security is advising citizens to top off the gas in their vehicles and keep cash on hand because of the situation in Ukraine. So what’s the scam here? Well, we don’t think there is one. Instead, we believe that this is an instance of an urban legend. This incident hearkens back to the early days of the internet, when people would forward emails about untrue things like Bill Gates giving away a million dollars, or why you shouldn’t flash your high beams at a car that flashes you first. If you receive a text like this, check with legitimate sources first before proclaiming it as fact.

    ***

    Speaking of gas for your car. If you pay at the pump, you may often check the gas pump for card skimmers. These are devices that are attached to the card slot of the gas pump that steals your card information. Most people who do check do so by pulling on the card slot to make sure nothing comes free. However, according to the Better Business of Bureau of Nebraska, there is a new threat at the gas pump to worry about. These devices are called shimmers, and are virtually undetectable. They are paper thin devices that go in the card slot and can also steal your card information. To avoid this scam, you can pay inside the gas station or use a credit card, which has more protection than a debit card.

    ***

    Lastly, if you’re a customer of Verizon, you may have received a text message that looks like it came from your number. The text messages claim to be from Verizon and state that your bill is paid and to click a link to receive a gift. In some instances, customers were taken to a website that asked them for personal and financial information. In other instances, customers were taken to a Russian state media network. As always, you should never click on strange links from people you don’t know personally, and even then, you should still be suspicious. If you receive one of these texts, you should delete it immediately.

    ***

    We hope we’ve armed you with enough knowledge to protect you from these scams in the future.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , text scam, ,   

    Scam Round Up: Other Valentine scams and more 

    Scam Round Up: Other Valentine scams and more

    By Greg Collier

    Today, to help start the weekend, we’re bringing you four scams from around the country you should be aware of.

    ***

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, we’ve already discussed the romance scams you should be on the lookout for. However, there are additional scams you should be aware of. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about impostor websites where you might be buying Valentine’s Day gifts such as jewelry and flowers from. Even if you’re shopping for gifts at the last minute, make sure the retailer you’re shopping at is a legitimate one. Check for reviews of the retailer to see if anyone has been scammed already through them. Avoid deals that seem too good to be true. Make sure the website isn’t posing as another retailer by checking the web address, known as a URL, for slight misspellings. Lastly, pass on vendors who only accept payment through cash transfer apps and cryptocurrency. Use a credit card whenever possible, since that provides the most consumer protection.

    ***

    A news report out of Pennsylvania is warning residents there about an inheritance scam. The report states that the scam starts out when the victim receives a letter in the mail from a supposed Canadian bank. The letter states that a distant relative of the victim has died, and the victim is in line to receive a multi-million dollar inheritance. While situations like this make for great TV drama, the reality is much more disappointing. In reality, the victim will either be asked to pay thousands of dollars for either phony taxes or legal fees. Or the victim will be asked for their banking information under the guise of having the inheritance sent to their bank account. If you receive one of these letters, you’re asked to just ignore it.

    ***

    If you live in an area that recently endured the winter storms, you may want to keep an eye out for this scam. In Missouri, residents are reporting receiving text messages that appear to come from the United States Postal Service (USPS). The text messages state that since service was delayed, you can request a re-delivery by clicking on a link. The link takes you to a website that looks like the USPS website and asks you for $3.30 re-delivery fee, which you can pay for with debit or credit card. This is designed to steal your financial information. The USPS will never ask for a re-delivery fee.

    ***

    Lastly, we have a scam that targets the migrant population in our country. In Indiana, police there say that people who are working to become citizens have received calls from scammers posing as local police. The victims are told if they don’t pay a fee, they could lose their status and be deported. Since the victims may not be familiar with US law, they may be easily persuaded to fall for this scam. No law enforcement department or agency will ever threaten arrest over the phone or ask for money over the phone. It’s recommended that if you receive one of these calls to contact the Department of Homeland Security. If you know someone who might be vulnerable to this scam, please let them know.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Zelle scam shows no signs of stopping 

    Zelle scam shows no signs of stopping

    By Greg Collier

    It’s been a few weeks since we last talked about the ongoing scams taking place through the Zelle banking app. If this is the first you’re hearing about it, these scams have been going on since at least this past fall. It starts when you get a text message that appears to come from your bank. The text message asks if you’ve recently made a large purchase or payment. You’re then asked to reply either yes or no to the text message. When you reply to the text message, your reply will be followed up with a phone call from scammers posing as your bank’s fraud department. The scammers will walk you through a process on the Zelle app that the scammers say will protect your account from any fraudulent activity. What’s really going on is the scammers are instructing you on how to put your money in the scammer’s account.

    The city of Charlotte, North Carolina, recently saw a dramatic increase in this scam. At least eight victims contacted the local ABC News affiliate saying they had been scammed through Zelle. Now, that may not seem like a lot of people being scammed, but you have to keep a couple of things in mind. The first is that not everyone who is scammed comes forward. Many people are too embarrassed to come forward after being scammed. This is why no one should ever be criticized for falling for one of these scams. The other thing is, scammers only need to find a handful of victims to make the scam profitable.

    For example, one of the victims who came forward in Charlotte said they lost $3500 to the scammers. Let’s just say that each of the victims lost a comparable amount. That’s $28,000 that a scammer potentially made in two weeks.

    If you receive a text message from your bank asking about a transaction, do not reply to it. Instead, call your bank’s customer service number on the back of your debit card or on the bank’s website. If you’ve lost money to this scam, it’s recommended that you file a police report right away before contacting your bank. This is not a guarantee you’ll get your money back, but in some instances it has helped. Lastly, if you use Zelle, think about opening a separate account with your bank that only has a small amount in it for Zelle transactions. That way if a scammer does get access to your Zelle the loss will be at a minimum.

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

    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 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , text scam,   

    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 9:01 am on November 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Another national bank used in Zelle scam 

    Another national bank used in Zelle scam

    By Greg Collier

    The Zelle scam continues to be an unstoppable force that has yet to meet its immovable object. In case you haven’t heard of this scam, Zelle is a payment app that’s preferred by many of the major banks in America. It works in a similar way to PayPal or Venmo but uses your bank account instead of a separate account. Scammers have been posing as banks and texting people, asking them if they just made a large purchase. When the recipient replies back with a ‘no’, the scammers call the person since they now know it’s a working number. The scammers will claim to be from the person’s bank and will instruct their victim that in order to prevent this fraudulent purchase, they need to send the money to themselves through Zelle. However, the money is actually being sent to the scammer.

    Previously, it was mostly reported that the majority of victims were customers of Bank of America, while other victims belonged to Chase Bank. Both B of A and Chase are part owners of Zelle. Now, we’ve seen a report where the victim was a customer of a different bank but also one of the Zelle owners. This bank would be Wells Fargo. A woman from South Carolina, who banks at Wells Fargo, received the text about the fraudulent purchase along with the follow-up phone call by a scammer claiming to be a Wells Fargo representative. This victim was also instructed to send the money to herself through Zelle. The exact amount she lost was not given, but was said to be in the thousands.

    The reason we’re mentioning Wells Fargo is that they are just one of nine banks that hold ownership in Zelle. Customers from any one of these banks could be vulnerable to this scam. The banks that we haven’t mentioned yet are BB&T, Capital One, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, Ally, and US Bank. Potentially, even consumers who don’t use one of these banks could still be vulnerable to this scam, as some banks use Zelle even though they don’t hold ownership in it.

    If you receive a text asking if a fraudulent purchase has been made through your account, do not respond to it. This is how scammers know they’ve got someone on their hook. Instead, call your bank at their customer service number that’s listed on their website or on your debit card. That way, you can be sure you’re talking to a legitimate customer service rep from your bank. You can also go to your bank’s local branch, and they will also be able to assist you.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    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 8:01 am on October 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Zelle scam victims may be entitled to get their money back 

    Zelle scam victims may be entitled to get their money back

    By Greg Collier

    The Zelle scam has been finding a lot of victims around the country. We originally posted about it here. The scam is largely affecting Bank of America customers, although we’ve also seen it affect Chase customers. In theory, it could affect any bank’s customers whether that bank uses The payment app or not.

    The scam works with the scammers posing as a bank. In this case, Bank of America, mostly. The scammers will text countless people at random. They only need to have a handful of people to fall victim to the scam to make it profitable. The text message will appear to have come from B of A asking if you’ve made a substantially large purchase lately. Within the text, you’ll be asked to reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ if you made such a purchase. If someone replies to the text, the text is followed up by a phone call from someone posing as a customer service rep from the bank telling you that someone has accessed your account. The victim will be then instructed to move the money in their account to a ‘safe place’ through Zelle, with the claim that this will keep their money safe. What’s really going on is that you’re transferring your money to a scammer’s account, and they make off with your money.

    For the most part, victims can’t get their money back. Zelle offers no protections for this, and the banks usually tell scam victims that there’s nothing they can do. Sometimes victims do get their money back after speaking with their local media. However, it seems more like the banks are doing this for PR reasons rather than any kind of responsibility to the customer.

    That may be changing, as a little-known federal law known as Regulation E states that banks are supposed to refund customers if the customer is the victim of a fraudulent transaction on their account. That includes when a third party tricks a victim into sharing account information. However, it does not protect the customer if the customer uses Zelle knowingly to buy something online and never receives that purchase. But for this scam, victims should be able to get refunds, theoretically. Whether the banks will try to prevent these refunds remains to be seen.

     
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