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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Zelle   

    Victim loses $25K in Zelle scam 

    By Greg Collier

    It’s been a few weeks since we last talked about the Zelle scam. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the scam has stopped. For those who may need a reminder, scammers are posing as bank customer service departments. They’ll text you asking if you’ve made a large purchase or withdraw recently. If you text them back, you’ll receive a call from the scammers. They’ll then instruct you that you need to move your money through the payment app Zelle to protect your account. What you’re actually doing is taking money out of your own account and sending it straight to the scammers. This scam has been an ongoing problem since at least this past fall.

    Recently, in Texas, a victim is said to have lost $25,000 to scammers through the Zelle app. Her story is much like the others. Except, instead of a text, she had a voicemail that was claiming to be from Chase Bank asking her if she had recently made a $5000 payment. She called the number back and the scammer told her that there had been fraudulent activity on her account and that she needed to use Zelle to reverse the fraudulent payment. Usually, that’s when the scammers disappear, but in this victim’s case they kept the scam going. They called her back in successive days, telling her the fraudulent activity happened again and that she needed to reverse the payment though Zelle again. This happened a total of five times for a total of $25,000 before she realized she had been scammed.

    In many of these cases, the banks try to wash their hands of the matter by saying that they’re not responsible for money lost through the Zelle scam. Some victims have gotten their money back but only after getting their local news media involved.

    If you receive a text asking you about fraudulent activity on your bank account, do not respond to it. Instead, call the customer service number listed on your debit card or bank statement. You can also visit your bank’s local branch, and they should also be able to assist you.

    If you end up being a victim of this scam, do not hesitate to take action. Notify your local police and bank immediately. This isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get your money back, but it goes a long way in helping. The longer you wait, the less of an opportunity there will be to reclaim your loss.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on December 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Zelle   

    Will Zelle replace gift cards in online scams? 

    By Greg Collier

    Just yesterday, we were talking about gift cards and how they’ve been the payment avenue of choice for most scammers. Well, if current trends continue, the mobile payment app Zelle may start catching up to gift cards. By now, you’re probably familiar with the bank impersonation scam that uses Zelle. This is when a victim receives phony texts and phone calls that say the victim has fraudulent activity in their bank account. The scammers direct the victim to use Zelle to protect their account when, in reality, the scammers are directing victims to send all their money to the scammers through Zelle.

    Now, it seems that scammers are starting to use Zelle as they used to use gift cards. For example, a woman from Baltimore was trying to buy a puppy online. Unfortunately, she fell for the puppy scam. The puppy didn’t actually exist, and the scammers kept asking for more money for such things as special delivery crates and customs fees. You can read more on how to avoid puppy scams here. Anyway, the point being that the victim made all the payments through Zelle to her scammers. Historically, scammers like this would ask for payment in gift cards by making the victim read the numbers from the back of the gift card. As we’ve mentioned before, Zelle has a reputation for not offering many protections when it comes to getting scammed.

    Previously, it seems that banks only issue refunds to scam victims after the victims get their local media involved. However, there is another way where you can possibly get your money back if you’ve been scammed over Zelle. According to a consumer protection news report out of New York City, you’ll have the best chance of getting a refund from your bank if you file a police report, and report the scam to the bank within 60 days. Now, this is no guarantee you’ll receive a refund since many banks tell their customers that when using Zellee, the customer is responsible for all transactions including scams.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , DVD in the mail, , , , , Zelle   

    Scam Round Up: Don’t put that disc in your computer 

    Scam Round Up: Don't put that disc in your computer

    By Greg Collier

    Once again, it’s time top bring our readers another trio of scams that deserve their attention.

    ***

    Our first scam is kind of a bizarre one. Residents of a town in Maine have reported receiving something strange in the mail. They’ve been receiving handwritten envelopes, addressed only to ‘A friend’. The envelope contains a DVD that has “Please watch, copy, and share with friends” written on it, with no indication of what may actually be on the DVD. More than likely, the DVD contains malware or ransomware. What’s strange about this story is most modern computers don’t even have optical drives installed in them anymore. This scam may have been targeting elderly residents who may have older computers that still have their optical drives. A more modern take on this scam is when scammers will leave USB drives lying around out in public, just hoping that someone will actually plug the drive into their computer.

    ***

    Our next scam is one that you’re probably more familiar with. Residents of New York have reported that they’ve received letters in the mail telling them that they’ve won an $880,000 sweepstakes. The letter even includes a check for $8000. However, you have to pay a $7000 fee to ‘release’ your winnings. This is illegal and known as the advance fee scam. Some victims may think they’ll just deposit the check and use the money to claim their supposed winnings. As you’ve probably surmised, the checks are fake, which would leave the victim paying back the amount of the check to their bank while the scammers make off with $7000. Not that we like to compliment scammers, but this is a pretty clever way of combining two known scams into one to further lure their victims into their trap.

    ***

    Lastly, this is just a warning to people who use mobile banking apps that Zelle scams are still finding victims and draining their bank accounts of thousands of dollars. A woman in Portland recently fell for the scam and lost $23,000. If you receive a text message that is supposedly from your bank asking if you’ve made a large purchase or transaction, do not reply. If you do, you’ll get a call from a scammer posing as your bank and will use the Zelle app to drain your account under the guise of protecting your money. Zelle should only be used when giving or paying money to someone you know personally. If you get a text like the one mentioned, call your bank directly instead, or stop by your local branch.

    ***

    Again, these scams may not be in your area right now, but they could be soon. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge to combat them.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Zelle   

    Are banks too zealous for Zelle? 

    By Greg Collier

    If you haven’t heard of Zelle by now, it’s a mobile payment app designed to compete with the likes of Venmo and Cash App. The company behind Zelle is owned by a number of the major banks in America including Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo just to name a few. Many, if not all, of these banks include Zelle with their mobile payment apps whether the customer wants Zelle or not. Since many mobile banking customers are even aware of Zelle on their banking accounts, scammers have been able to use Zelle to empty the bank accounts of their victims.

    For the past few months, scammers have been sending text messages to their victims posing as the victim’s bank. The text message asks the victim if they recently made a large purchase and asks the victim to text back yes or no. When the victim texts back, they’re immediately called by a scammer posing as a bank employee. The scammer tells the victim that the victim’s bank account has been compromised and that the victim needs to move money through Zelle in order to ‘protect’ their account. In actuality, the scammers are moving the money from the victim’s account to the scammer’s account. This scenario most recently happened to a new mother and teacher in Atlanta where her Wells Fargo account was drained of $3500. Since Zelle doesn’t offer many customer protections, victim’s have been hit or miss when it comes to getting their money back from their bank.

    A huge problem with the recent Zelle scams is the fact that the banks are attaching Zelle to their mobile payment apps without a lot of customer education on how Zelle works. It also doesn’t help that if a customer wanted to opt out of Zelle, they can’t just check a box that deactivates their Zelle account. Instead, you have to call your bank’s customer service department to deactivate your Zelle account.

    Should banks be doing more to warn their customers about these scams? Is a small warning on the Zelle app about scams enough? What can the banks do to better educate their customers? Please let us know in the comments below.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on November 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Zelle   

    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 November 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Zelle   

    Puppy scam back in time for holidays 

    Puppy scam back in time for holidays

    By Greg Collier

    With the holidays approaching, many people may be looking to add a new pet to their families. These same people may also not be aware of the pitfalls that await them when trying to buy a puppy online. When online puppy scams first started they were simple. The scammer would place an online ad for a trendy breed of puppy for sale, where the price would be well below market value. The victim would send their money for the puppy, but the puppy would never show up because the puppy never existed. While this scam is generally the same, in more recent times, scammers have added extra steps to try to get their victims to pay even more money.

    For example, a Michigan woman was scammed out of $5300 when she fell victim to a puppy scam. Not only did the scammer ask for the price of the puppy, but also said there were additional fees for shipping the puppy. This included shipping insurance, vaccines, and housing among other charges. More often than not, scammers will also try to charge victims for a special shipping crate. The victim was also instructed to send all payments through the Zelle app, which we know now doesn’t have the best protection when it comes to scammers.

    If you are thinking about getting a puppy this holiday season, please take the decision seriously. Depending on the breed, some dogs can live as long as 20 years. Getting a puppy is something you and your family should be physically and financially ready for. Too many people who adopted pets during the pandemic ended up leaving them at shelters and abandoning them.

    However, if you have given this decision serious thought, try to avoid buying a puppy online. Scammers often set up phony websites with stolen pictures of puppies to make it look like they are legitimate breeders. Your best bet is to stick with a local breeder. Make sure that the breeder is licensed, as backyard breeders often sell puppies that have terminal illnesses like parvo.

    But before you head to your local breeder, we ask that you stop at your local animal shelter or humane society first. More often than not, you can adopt a dog, puppy or even a cat at little to no cost, and many shelters have already given the animals their first set of shots. Shelter dogs get a bad rap because too many people think that they’re problem dogs, but in most cases they’re at the shelter through no fault of their own.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cold weather rule, , , Xcel Energy, Zelle   

    Colder weather brings out this scam 

    By Greg Collier

    Even though this is a year-round scam, it’s become more threatening as the colder weather approaches. Scammers are once again posing as power companies and threatening customers with turning off their service. Usually, the scammers will call their victim and tell them that the victim’s bill is overdue. The scammers will then claim that they’re turning off the victim’s service in 15-30 minutes if they don’t make an immediate payment. The victim will then be instructed to make the payment in a nontraditional way, such as gift cards or cryptocurrency. These methods are used because the payments made to the scammers can’t normally be recovered.

    For example, a news station in Denver is reporting that scammers are posing as Xcel Energy. Xcel is one of the larger electric companies in the country, serving customers from Minnesota to New Mexico. One victim has reported that she received a call from a scammer posing as Xcel and threatening to turn off her service. As usual, the scammers demanded payment, but instead of git cards or Bitcoin, they demanded payment through the Zelle payment app. Zelle has been used in a number of scams recently. Since Zelle doesn’t offer many protections like a credit card would, scammers are able to withdraw the Zelle payment almost immediately. Thankfully, the woman recognized that this was a scam and did not lose any money.

    There are a number of ways to recognize this scam. First, electric companies won’t call you and threaten you with termination of service that same day. Instead, you would receive a written notice in the mail letting you know that your balance is overdue before any termination of service happened. Secondly, no utility company is going to pressure you into making a payment with virtually anonymous methods like cryptocurrency and gift cards. Lastly, if you live in a cold weather state, your state may have a cold weather moratorium where it’s illegal for companies to turn off certain services during the colder months of the year. You can check with your state to find out when the cold weather rule is in effect.

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

    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
    Tags: , , , , Zelle   

    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.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Zelle   

    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.

    Or…

    “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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