Posts Tagged: ‘scam’

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.