Posts Tagged: ‘scammers’

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.

How to Reduce Robocalls

April 28, 2019 Posted by Pamela M

Ways to stop robocalls

 

Businesses use automatic dialing systems as a way to market products to their clients. The introduction of these systems was revolutionary as it eliminated the need for people to make thousands of calls on their behalf. It was created to save time and money.

Automatic dialing systems were the precursor to conversational robots. The systems are designed to answer questions and direct users to the right department. A recent report shows that these bots can answer up to 29% of a person’s questions and save 44% of the time people would spend on the phone with a live support person.

Sadly, these systems are also used by telemarketing companies and scammers trying to get you to buy products or give up your hard earned money. Because the systems are automated, refusing to answer the phone or trying to talk sense to the robot on the other end is frustrating and futile.

Telemarketers

Telemarketers have to follow laws regarding the number of times they can call people and when they can be called. For example, it is illegal to make telemarketing calls before 7 AM and after 9 PM. People try to protect themselves from telemarketers by signing up on the National Do Not Call Registry. However, there are companies that can continue to call if you’re registered. If you have an account with the company or have signed up for a service that permits calls by third parties, you can receive calls. You have to opt out of contact. If a caller violates the law, you should report it immediately.

A Growing Problem

In 2018, robocallers made 26.3 billion calls and the number continues to increase. The Federal Communications Commission predicts that, in 2019, over 44% of all phone calls will be robocalls. Although the FCC fines companies for violations of the law, the companies don’t seem to care. Consumers search out ways to make the calls stop, and organizations like Consumer Reports gives out information and tips on how to end robocalls.

Helpful Phone Apps

You can download apps that allow you to trace unknown callers on your iPhone. These apps use an algorithm to determine which phone numbers are likely to be linked to telemarketers or scammers; then they maintain a database with those numbers. If a phone number makes over 1,000 calls, it’s going to be labeled as an unwanted number since the company is probably using a robocaller.

Apps can help you to identify callers and, if the number belongs to a telemarketer or other unwanted caller, you can block the phone numbers. It might not end the calls, but it will certainly cut back on them. You can only stop robocalls completely by turning off your phone. Apps will help, but to date, there is no foolproof solution.

Make A Report

If you continue to receive robocalls, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission for further investigation.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

What are VoIP Phone Numbers?

October 30, 2018 Posted by Pamela M

VoIP Phone Service

As technology expands, ways to connect are increasing exponentially. Although it has been around for quite a few years, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become more popular than ever. While there are advantages to using VoIP numbers, there are also disadvantages, including usage by scammers. What are VoIP numbers and how do they work?

Voice over Internet Protocol

Traditional phone services link a specific phone to a number. That number will always be used when placing calls from the phone. However, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) numbers are not tied to a specific phone. Rather, they are numbers connected to an Internet service. A user signs up with a website, such as Google Voice. The user registers with the website and receives a phone number. The user can make calls using that number from any supporting device. This means a user can make calls from a cell phone, computer, laptop, or even an analog telephone. The services are often free or charge a monthly fee. The low or no cost feature of using a VoIP number is especially attractive to businesses because it can drastically reduce monthly fees.

Advantages

The benefits of using a VoIP are many. They include:

  • Never have to change phone numbers
  • Not tying up your personal line
  • Not having to purchase a business line
  • Cheap or free service
  • International calling
  • Masking identity
  • Choosing any phone number in any area code
  • Operating multiple phone lines
  • Accessing many features of traditional phone services

Disadvantages

  • Unable to place 911 calls
  • Must have an Internet connection
  • Disabled during a power outage
  • Dependent on bandwidth
  • Internet can cause lag time
  • Lower quality than traditional service
  • Callers can mask their identity
  • Callers can pretend to be representatives of businesses or agencies (Bank, IRS, etc.)
  • Blocked numbers
  • Scammers/telemarketers can use local numbers
  • May be harder to trace
  • Identity may not be available
  • May permit viruses on computer/phone system

Tracing VoIP Numbers

Recently, it has become easier for services to trace unknown callers on your iPhone. The numbers are linked to an IP address rather than to a specific phone, therefore traces can be tricky, but they can be done. The best way to avoid issues with telemarketers or scammers is to block unknown or foreign numbers using an app. If you answer an unknown number, never give out personal information. If you suspect a scam, contact your Attorney General or local authorities on their non-emergency line.

Are You Being Spoofed?

August 30, 2018 Posted by Pamela M

As diligent as phone service carriers can be, scammers and telemarketing firms are even more so. They seem to stay ahead of the technology and the carriers just can’t keep up.  You may have noticed an increase in local calls to your phone, many of which are local numbers – or even numbers of neighbors, family and friends. Sadly, there isn’t much we can do about these calls except to ignore or block them. Registering on the National Do Not Call Registry or reporting calls may help, but I’ve read numerous accounts that the reports only generate more calls. Why is this happening?

find out who's calling you

Local Numbers

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software allows any user to create an account and choose a local phone number. The caller uses that number for whatever business or scam he is perpetrating, knowing that people are more likely to answer local numbers. The unwanted caller bets that you will answer, wondering if it’s a call from a neighbor, doctor’s office, or your child’s school. The caller may also tap into the number of a friend or family member, ensuring that you will pick up. Once you answer, the caller goes into his prepared spiel, hoping to lure you into purchasing a product or sending money for some invented reason.

How To Recognize Scammers

Most people are familiar with email scams wherein someone reports an overseas crisis, an unexpected windfall, or other event that requires the recipient to send money. Fake lotteries and business opportunities make big promises that will never deliver. Even the savviest people fall for these scams because the scammers are trained to be convincing and persistent. One of the most recent scams is being called by a utility company or the IRS, demanding immediate payment or face jail time. This is especially scary to senior citizens who may be easily confused or not up to date on the latest scamming trends.

How to block a phone number

How To Make It Stop

There is no surefire way to make the calls stop. However, you can block calls on your iPhone using a caller ID app. If a call comes from a number you do not recognize, let the call go to voicemail. Most scammers or telemarketers will not leave a message. If you receive a message that sounds legit and important, you may call the number, but beware. Any calls received from the utility company or the IRS demanding payment are most likely fraud. The IRS never calls people on the phone; they send letters. If a utility company calls, get the name and extension of the person calling as well as a call back number that you can use to verify the information. Also check the claim against any outstanding bills. If you do suspect fraud, report the call immediately to the police.

Lastly, limit the number of things you sign up for online. The more you use your phone number, the more likely you are to receive calls. You may also consider getting a masked number from Google voice or another company to separate your personal calls from potential fraudsters.