Posts Tagged: ‘scam’

The Latest Romance Scam: How To Protect Yourself

June 16, 2019 Posted by Pamela M

Online Dating Scams

Dating is difficult, especially if you’re no longer in your twenties. Online dating is the way most relationships start these days, but it’s also a way in which daters can be scammed. People that have lost money through online dating schemes are often reluctant to report the fraud for several reasons: they are embarrassed, heartbroken, and think there is no chance of getting the money back.

Big Money

Scammers rely on their new partners being blinded by love, so they don’t ask many questions. Savvy people fall pretty to dating scams all the time, simply because the scammers are often very smart. That’s why online romance scams are the biggest form of fraud online. Marketwatch reports that online dating fraud has quadrupled over the past four years, going from $33 million to $143 million. The money is always sent through gift cards, wire transfers, cash apps or in bitcoins, so it is impossible to trace the scammer.

Getting Verified

The latest romance scam involves verification of your identity so that the other person feels safe. Some dating sites offer verification services, which can be a great help in weeding out the scammers. Many legitimate verification sites exist and are a great tool. Scammers have created sites similar to the real sites to trick people into giving information such as social security numbers.

How it Works

The scammer asks the other person to click on a link to a real verification site, such as BeenVerified. However, the link is really to a third party site that steals information and uses it or sells it to other scammers.

Detecting a Money Scam

People looking for love online often have common factors that make them good targets. Scammers can pick up on those traits and move in for the kill. They include:

An Addictive personality. People with addictive personalities tend to get attached to other people quickly. If you have this type of behavior, be extra careful with strangers who profess their love right away.

Impulse-driven. If you act on impulse without thinking things through, you could be a big target for a romance scam.

Trusting. Trusting people isn’t a bad thing. But people who trust others immediately can be tricked into giving up money before they know the real story.

Middle-aged. Most scammers target people who are middle-aged. It may be that the daters have come out of a long term relationship and are lonely. Females are also the most targeted, although men can also be victims.

Protect Yourself

You can protect yourself from scams by meeting the person before giving them any information. If you exchange phone numbers, use a reverse phone search to find out if the number is real. If the other person makes an excuse about his or her identity, don’t believe it. You should also be suspicious if s/he is out of the country for any reason, even if it’s for work. Lastly, never send money for any reason. Scammers can be persuasive, even threatening. If that happens, end communication immediately.

Veterans’ Charity Scams

March 20, 2019 Posted by Pamela M

Scammers play on patriotism

Scammers have no shame when it comes to stealing your hard-earned money. They will tell you anything you want to hear. If they think you may be partial to a specific cause, they will exploit that to get cash or valuable credit card or bank information.

Veterans’ charities are especially fruitful since the average person wants to support the men and women that gave them freedom. However, scammers take your well-meaning donations and use them for their own gain. People often donate money, property, cars, boats and other items to support veterans. The Federal Trade Commission recently enacted a total of 100 law enforcement actions against fake veterans’ charities. They enlisted the help of state officials and released a public service announcement to warn people about the scams.

How to Protect Yourself

The FTC publishes a list of things you can do to protect yourself from the scammers. They may use multiple methods to gain your information from phishing to using social media profiles. Experts recommend that you do the following:

Use a Scam Call Blocker

Many telemarketers and fake charities use automatic dialing systems to reach potential targets. The “robocalls” cycle through lists of donors and are relentless. Apps like RoboKiller track phone numbers most used by scammers as well as numbers used by legitimate charities. The apps will blacklist numbers that are commonly used. If you receive a suspicious call, you can also do a reverse phone search to look up the number. You can compare the number to the one listed on the charities website to make sure they match.

Follow the FTC

The FTC offers valuable tools to the public via press releases and up-to-date information on their website, such as FTC and States Combat Fraudulent Charities That Falsely Claim to Help Veterans and Servicemembers.

Research the Charity

People may become confused by the number of requests they receive from various charities. You can easily use a search engine to learn more about the charity, including reviews, official address and phone and their 501(c)(3) nonprofit number. If the charity is unable to supply their 501(c)(3) number, it may be a scam.

You can also look up a charity’s rating and reports on websites such as give.org, charitynavigator.org, charitywatch.org, guidestar.org.

Track Your Payment

You should make donations to charities using a check or credit card. A legitimate charity will not ask you to pay by wire transfer or gift card. You should also request proof of the donation for tax purposes.

Ask Questions

Scammers don’t like to answer questions. If the caller cannot answer the following questions, be cautious:

What’s the charity’s website, address, and mission?

How are donations allocated?

How much of the donation will be used for administrative fees?

Red Flags

Finally, look out for charities that refuse to provide receipts, information about their mission and costs, and how the donation will be used. Scammers may also thank you for making a pledge you didn’t make. They may try to force you into donating immediately. If these things happen, contact the FTC and local authorities.

 

Don’t Be a Victim of a Disaster Scam

January 21, 2019 Posted by Pamela M

Scammers collect money for disaster victims.

 

Many parts of the country routinely face weather emergencies: power outages, loss of water, loss of homes, and much more. Unaffected people are asked to donate to help those in need. It’s a noble thing to do to help the less fortunate. Less noble is the fact that someone out there is waiting to take advantage of the situation. Scammers take to the phones to ask for donations, playing upon sympathy and human kindness. Some callers shame those who don’t donate. If you want to donate to help others, be sure that the organization making the request is legitimate.

Scammers are smart. They don’t invent charities. Many use well-established organizations to make the potential donor feel secure in laying out money.

The American Red Cross is the most well-known disaster agency in the world. Scammers have contacted donors by using a fake address – like @redcross.net or by phone. The Red Cross never asks for personal information and advises people to be cautious if they receive a phone call. If you want to donate, call the organization directly or go to a local office. Anyone who suspects a disaster-based scam should contact The National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721 or email the NCDF at [email protected].

Is it a phone scam?

Many people think that scammers are foreigners and that it’s easy to tell if a call is real. That’s not true. Scammers aren’t always located in foreign countries. The calls could come from someone in your neighborhood trying to make a quick buck. The scammers tend to be highly aggressive with their victims.

Legitimate charities do call people to get contributions. The best way to protect yourself is to research the organization before giving a donation. Scammers use fake phone numbers, so you can’t use an iPhone phone number tracker to find where the call originates. Take the following steps to avoid falling for a phone scam:

1.     Ask questions

Question the caller where the money goes. Ask the caller for the organization’s name and address. Scammers may not be able to answer and hang up.

2.     Ensure the charity is real

Don’t donate when someone calls. Charitable and non-profit organizations are required by law to be registered with the state. If the charity is real, you can call back or donate through their website. If you donate, get a receipt.

3.     Don’t give out personal information

Never give out personal information.

4.     Keep emotions in check

Scammers will play upon your emotions. They will tell sad stories about children, homeless people, or those with no water or electric; anything that will cause a reaction. They may use guilt tactics. Whenever a caller asks for a specific dollar amount, hang up.

5.     Report suspicious activity

If you think might be the target of a scam, call The Federal Trade Commission immediately.

Internet Auction Fraud: What You Need to Know

December 16, 2018 Posted by Pamela M

Auction Scams 

Auctions are exciting. They are a good source to find items at deeply discounted prices. You don’t have to go to the mall or fight traffic. Auctions are also rife with scams. The excitement of getting a good deal makes some people less cautious. That’s exactly what the scammers want.

Types of Auction Fraud

Fraud can occur on almost any auction site. This is especially true if the website is not responsible for delivering the item.

Examples of Auction Fraud:

  • Seller never sends the item
  • Item is not as advertised.
  • Item is damaged.
  • Seller sends an empty box or substitute item.
  • You are overcharged or double charged.
  • Wire transfer schemes mislead buyers by asking them to send money through a wire service. The wire service is fraudulent. Once the money is sent, the seller and the wire transfer are gone.
  • Second-chance schemes involve sellers contacting losing bidders to offer a second chance on an item. If the seller calls, use an app for unknown number look ups to get the caller’s information. Call them back on that number.
  • The buyer pays, but nothing is ever delivered.
  • Overpayment fraud. A seller posts a high price item. The buyer insists on buying the item immediately, often before the auction has begun. The buyer sends a check, money order or wire transfer in excess of the cost of the item. Seller is asked to deduct the amount owed and return the overpayment. The seller soon learns that the form of payment is counterfeit.

How to Avoid Being Scammed

Many auction sites are reputable and provide good service. Follow their rules and policies to prevent being scammed.

  • If a seller contacts you by phone, use an iPhone caller ID app to verify identity.
  • Understand how auctions work
  • Know your obligations as a buyer before you bid
  • Learn what can be done in case of fraud.
  • Ensure all items purchased are received.
  • Read feedback and reviews from the seller’s previous customers.
  • Search to find any possible information about the seller, including a review from the Better Business Bureau.
  • Use a form of safe payment such as a credit card or online account that protects buyers.
  • Know the seller’s exchange and return policies.
  • Beware of international sellers.
  • Ensure that all costs are included in the price.
  • Never give a driver’s license number, bank account number, or social security number.

If you should receive an item that isn’t as advertised, contact the seller. If the seller will not refund your money, notify the website immediately. File a dispute with your credit card company to avoid being charged. All online fraud should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Cancer Scams on the Rise

November 28, 2018 Posted by Pamela M

Watch out for cancer charity scams

 

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2018, there will be 1,735,350 people diagnosed with cancer; at the same time, 609,640 cancer-related deaths in the United States. The statistics suggest the most people know someone affected by cancer. Sadly, scammers take advantage of this fact and try to bilk unsuspecting people out of money in the name of cancer research or a related charity.

There are many reputable and honorable charities. However, scammers aren’t in that prestigious group. Rather, the scammers take the money you have given in good faith to use for their own purposes.

The “Good Guys?”

Regardless of popular belief, scams aren’t only perpetrated by individuals hiding in dark basements or Nigerian prisons. So-called legitimate companies often take part in aggressive telemarketing campaigns to collects funds. On the surface, these charities seem to be honest. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that it’s a front. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission filed charges against four charities claiming to collect money to combat cancer. The representatives lied to potential donors to gain sympathy, and then they walked away with almost $200 million in donations. As a matter of fact, the CEOs use the money to buy luxury vacations and pay salaries to family members.

Detecting a Charity Phone Scam

It may be difficult to identify a false charity asking for money or an organization, although it is not impossible. Scammers often use fake identities and use a spoofed caller ID to hide their real phone numbers. There are five steps to  avoid becoming a victim of a charity phone scam:

  1. Ask for more information

Question the caller about the charity. Ask the representative for information about the organization. The caller should supply his full name, the charity’s legal name and address, and how donations are allocated. Scammers may be unable to give an appropriate answer, get defensive or hang up. Use an app for unknown number look ups to identify the phone number.

  1. Ensure the charity is legitimate

Do not donate at the time of the call. Research the organization online to verify its existence and credentials. Legitimate charities are registered with the state, and national organizations can be verified through the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. If you have determined that the charity is legitimate you can call back or donate via their website. If you donate, be sure to get a receipt.

  1. Keep your information private

Never give out personal or financial information. Be suspicious if the caller asks you to issue a wire transfer, purchase a pre-loaded debit card or a similar means of payment.

  1. Don’t get emotional

Scammers will often play on your emotions. They may use guilt to get you to donate. Whenever a caller asks for a certain dollar amount, hang up.

  1. Refuse unsolicited requests

The best protection is to avoid answering unknown calls. If you think a call is a scam, call the FTC immediately.