Category Archives: Scam of the Month

Scam Prevention Info From FTC – IRS Imposters

Beware of Wells Fargo Fake Bank Accounts – From CNN Money

http://bit.ly/2dErtX3

 

 

Short Video on Ransomware From FTC

Considering Format Changes – What Do You think?

I’ve written monthly scam prevention articles for several years now and am wondering who is reading them and/or using the information I provide to help educate themselves and loved ones. I am considering some formatting changes but would like to know if anyone has suggestions or ideas on what, if any, changes you would like to see. Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

FTC Introduces new Identity Theft.gov Website/ Repeat By Request!

Here is a peek at parts of the new FTC  website dealing with Identity Theft issues. The site offers easy to follow instructions for dealing with the many aspects of this growing crime. For more information and great resource guides visit IdentityTheft.gov.

Federal Trade Commission: IdentityTheft.gov

 identitytheft-gov-screenshot

What To Do Right Away

Did someone steal and use your personal information?

Act quickly to limit the damage.

Step 1: Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.

Step 2: Place a fraud alert and get your credit report.

Step 3: Report identity theft to the FTC.

Step 4: File a report with your local police department.

Drop-down menus provide easy to follow instructions on how to begin
the process of reclaiming your identity and repairing the damage
caused by thieves. It is a wonderful resource filled with valuable
information and can easily be added to your scam prevention files.
Learning how to protect yourself and others is a click away.

You May Be Losing More Than Calories With Fitness Apps And Bands

Tracking our fitness and exercise efforts is easier than ever. Glancing at a wristband and reading stats in an app now serve as the inspiration for going that extra mile or running a few more minutes and, best of all,   your hard work is stored in a database for anyone to see. It might be beneficial to check the health of your personal data before counting calories to find out who is tracking you.

Downloading apps is fun, easy, and convenient but we may not realize the full extent of our actions. As users we often hit “Agree” without realizing or knowing what we are agreeing to. Many apps , both free and paid, can access  your contacts, social media account info, and other data and then share your unencrypted data with third-party companies and advertisers.  Health and fitness apps are of particular concern because they aren’t required to be HIPAA compliant and the stored information could be susceptible to hackers intent on using it medical identity theft purposes because of lax security features. Here’s some tips on how to exercise safely – in more ways than one.

Read the Privacy Policy Before Downloading App

The Privacy Policy is displayed under the details section of the app information. How and what are they doing with your info?  Keywords to look for are Third-Party, Marketers, Sharing Your Info.

Ask If The Health App Is HIPAA Compliant

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was enacted in 1996 with the goal of helping individuals maintain healthcare coverage between jobs and to provide security and confidentiality to patients to protect their medical records and health data. App developers don’t always take HIPAA into consideration when writing their programs or may not understand their responsibilities to users. If you aren’t sure or the developer is unable to respond to your queries, go elsewhere for your purchase.

Don’t Automatically Link To Social Media Accounts

Stop and think whether or not it is necessary to share your workout history on social media. Do you want your favorite routes and routines shared with virtual strangers? Check the privacy settings on the apps and give as little information as possible when signing up. Review the privacy settings on social media accounts as well.

We need to stay vigilant in the ever changing world of technological advancements. Protecting ourselves and our personal information is more important than ever. We lock our cars, our doors, and our windows when leaving home for any amount of time. We need to use that same vigilance when visiting cyber frontiers.

FTC Releases 2015 Top Consumer Complaints

Not much changed in the list of 2015  top consumer complaints compiled by The Consumer Sentinel Network. Approximately 3,083,379 complaints were filed in 2015. Missouri, Connecticut, and Florida had the most identity theft complaints and Florida, Michigan, and Georgia had the most complaints overall. Here is the breakdown:

Debt Collection                                        897,655

Identity Theft                                           490,220

Imposter Scams                                       353,770

Telephone & Mobile Services                275,754

Prize, Sweepstakes, Lottery                   140,136

Banks and Lenders                                 131,875

Shop At Home/Catalog Sales                96,363

Auto Related                                              93,917

TV & Electronic Media                            47,728

Credit Bureaus, Info Furnisher              43,939

 

The FTC has launched a new website specifically for Identity Theft issues. It provides a wide array of resources and info for reporting and repairing Identity Theft  problems. For more information call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 or visit their website at www.IdentityTheft.gov.

Updates to Website In Progress. Please Enjoy Archives and HNY!

Stay Safe With Holiday Shopping Chip And Dip Hints

By now many consumers have received new credit cards embedded with a chip designed to cut down on fraudulent transactions. EMV cards (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) generate a random number for each transaction and customers have an extra added layer of protection when they shop using “chip and dip” technology. As with any new advancements and/or improvements, scammers are taking advantage  new credit cards.

Imposters are sending out emails phishing for personal information by claiming that the credit card company is updating your account information and they provide a link “for your convenience” to check on your account details. Clicking on a phony link enables scammers to not only steal your valuable personal data, it also can install malware and/or viruses on your computer system. If you receive emails addressed to “Dear Cardholder” proceed with caution. Call your credit card company directly with any questions and take matters into your own hands.

Chip and dip does not work when shopping online. Use the same precautions as always when making purchases from websites. Check the spelling of the site carefully. One typo can send you to the wrong place and jeopardize your account. Always look for https:// in the address bar. The S and a padlock icon means the website is secure. Avoid any “click bait” ads that encourage you to shop elsewhere for out of this world bargains and then fail to follow through with merchandise you believe you purchased.

Word of mouth is a great way to share your experiences with others-both good and bad. Remember to check bank and credit card statements carefully during the holiday season and be leery about any offers that seem to be too good to be true.

Wishing everyone a safe and scam-free Holiday Season!

Scammers Are Flipping The Script On Medicare Scams

The use of Social Security numbers as identifiers on Medicare cards has been a hotly debated subject over the last several years. As Identity Theft issues continue to dominate the news to  as the most common complaint filed with the FTC, concerned consumers have reluctantly provided their Social Security numbers to medical care providers at every visit. Scammers are already capitalizing on changes made in a recent law that mandates how new Medicare cards will be issued over the next several years.

Over $320 million has been set aside by Congress to pay for new Medicare cards for using random numbers instead of individual SSNs. The rollout will take place over the next four years starting with new beneficiaries first followed by those with existing cards. The intent is to reduce the likelihood of identity theft but scammers have stepped up their game and devised new strategies for stealing personal info. Here are a few tips to stay ahead of their games.

*No one from Medicare will contact you in person, on the phone, or by email asking for personal information. This is especially important to note during open enrollment which takes place from October 15 through December 7.

Scammers are calling beneficiaries and refer them to legitimate websites as a ruse to try to “legitimize” the necessity of providing personal details to “helpful” callers who hope you fall for their lies.

Unsolicited phone calls offering free medical supplies are just another way scammers try to get Medicare numbers and other personal information. Filling in coupons with personal info or posting health issues on social media are some of the ways con artists find out about medical concerns.

Caller ID  can no longer be used as a source for determining whether or not a call is legitimate. Software programs manipulate information and burner phones are used to hide the true identities of thieves. Don’t use Caller ID as a guide.

Medicare sends any notifications via USPS. Be sure any official looking letters are legitimate and if in doubt, visit the Social Security website at http://www.ssa.gov or call 1-800-772-1213. For more information on the new legislation visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114hr2enr/pdf/BILLS-114hr2enr.pdf.