Scam of the day – March 21, 2012 – Rental listing scams

This is another tried and true scam that keeps cropping up.  Recently there were reports of phony apartment listings on Carigslist for New York City apartments and a California youth soccer team that was scammed when it thought it was renting a house in Palm Springs for their state tournament.  In both cases, the victims lost the money they sent to the scammers who had no connection with the real estate.  Sometimes scammers will hijack real rental listings and alter the advertisements.  Other times the scammers will create phony ads for property they do not own or for property that does not even exist.

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Whenever possible, meet the person renting the property in person at the property.  Also, confirm through local real estate tax records that the person actually owns the real estate he or she is seeking to rent to you.  Always  be wary if you are asked to wire money because once it is wired, the money is gone.  Check with the Better Business Bureau, local attorney general or Federal Trade Commission to assist in confirming that the renter is not a scammer.

Scam of the day – March 20, 2012 – Car trade-in scam

Recently the Federal Trade Commission settled complaints against five automobile dealers for a misleading and deceptive advertising practice pertaining to paying off a car loan on a consumer’s trade-in when buying a new vehicle.    Some car dealers promise in their ads to pay off any outstanding car loan on the car that is being traded when purchasing  a new car, however, rather than paying off the loan with their own money as implied by their advertising, some dealers are merely adding the cost of the payoff into the cost of the new car, building the cost into the new car loan.  Other times the consumers have even been forced to pay off the old loan in cash before they can take their new car.

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When buying a new car make sure you negotiate the total price of the car and not the monthly payments on a car loan.  The loan payments can be extended to make it appear that you are paying less when you are paying more over the time of the loan.  Also read the fine print to make sure that you know exactly what you are paying.

Scam of the day – March 19, 2012 – New iPad scam

Once again, the scammers are there when anything new catches the public’s attention.  This time it involves Apple’s release of the newest iPad, which, once again is exciting the buying public.  But why buy a new iPad when you can get one for free.  Turning up in emails and on Facebook pages are offers of free iPads in exchange for merely testing the iPad.  If you click to the link to claim your iPad, you find yourself in the same danger as when you fall for any of these type of lures by scammers.  You may be led to a survey, which even if you take it, does not end up with your getting the promised iPad, but does provide a commission payment to the scammer.  More seriously, you may provide information that could put you in danger of identity theft or even worse, you could have unwittingly, by clicking on the link, downloaded a keystroke logging malware program on to your computer that can access all of the information on your computer, such as passwords, Social Security numbers and other information that can turn you into a victim of identity theft.

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Many of the free iPad scams actually refer to the device as an ” iPad 3″ which is not the official name of the device, so you can be sure that the offer is a scam.  However, whenever you see any of these offers, rest assured, they are scams.  Apple does not do these kind of promotions.  If you still are not convinced when you see this kind of offer, call Apple.

Scam of the day – March 18, 2012 – Diabetes scam

The Department of Health and Human Services Office has issued a recent warning to Americans with diabetes to be alert to a number of scams targeted specifically at people with diabetes.  The scams originate with a call from someone purporting to be from either Medicare, another government agency or a diabetes organization in which the scammers offer free diabetic supplies, such as glucose meters, diabetic testing strips or lancets.  All the victim of the scam has to do to receive these free items is provide personal information, such as the victim’s Medicare number, which, although the government should know better, is still the person’s Social Security number.  The scammers then either use the victim’s Medicare information to bill Medicare for the items, make the person a victim of medical identity theft, which can corrupt the victim’s health records and/or use the other personal information to make the person a victim of more conventional identity theft.

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Never give your Medicare number or other personal information to someone you don’t know.  Legitimate diabetes associations, Medicare and other governmental agencies will not call you by phone offering “free” items.  Always check your Medicare Summary Notice and other medical billings that you receive to make sure that you have not been billed for items you did not order and to see if you have become a victim of medical identity theft.  You can go to the medical identity theft section of scamicide.com to see how to reclaim your identity if you have become a victim of medical identity theft.

Scam of the day – March 17, 2012 – Qaddafi money scam

Even though he has only been dead for a short time, former Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi lives on in the world of scams.  An email making the rounds that appears in form to be quite similar to the common Nigerian Letter scam is now being found in an email presently being circulated that is purportedly from his widow asking for assistance in getting his fortune out of a secret Mayalysian account.    People responding to the email  are, in some instances, not only urged to pay seed money for the recovery effort of Qaddafi’s wealth, but in other instances even lured to foreign countries, such as Malaysia, where they may be kidnapped.

 

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As with any such outrageous emails, such as this, first consider, why are you the lucky person to be singled out for this great opportunity.  Scammers appeal to our greed and our desire for the easy dollar.  Don’t fall for their lures and don’t ever communicate with them on any level.  To do so opens you up to further danger.  Emails promising fortunes belong in your delete folder.

Scam of the day – March 16, 2012 – Cell phone bank scam

A growing scam is the stealing of victims’bank accounts by identity thieves.  According to the American Bankers Association, this type of scam has increased by 260% in the last two years.  One of the more common ways scammers steal your bank account is by getting you to give them the keys to the kingdom by calling you on your cell phone with an automated call or text message from the scammer posing as your bank, telling you that there has been a security breach and your account is in jeopardy.  The message asks you to provide personal information about the account.  Many victims have trusted the scammers because their caller ID shows that the message came from their bank.  However, the bank’s caller ID has merely been copied or spoofed by the scammers.  If you provide the requested information, your account can be emptied and your identity stolen causing you further financial harm.  Sometimes the message actually appears to come from a bank you do not even have an account with.

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You should be skeptical when your bank  appears to be contacting you and asks for personal information.  And, of course, you should never respond to a message from a bank that you do not have an account with asking for personal information.  Never respond to a text message or automated call purporting to be from your bank by doing anything other than contacting your bank at a telephone number that you know is correct to confirm the call.

Scam of the day – March 15, 2012 – Pinterest Scams

The name “Pinterest” may not be familiar to you, but it will be.  It is a new social media site by which people are able to share or “pin” images of their business logos, business coupons and discounts for marketing purposes to a virtual bulletin board.  Viewers can then either indicate that they like the image, comment on the image or re-pin it to their own boards.  Pinterest is becoming increasingly popular and as more people are drawn to the site, so are scammers who are using phony postings that are easy to make in an effort to lure victims into being scammed by being routed to the same surveys that the scammer gets paid for in similar Facebooks scams or that trick you into providing personal information used for identity theft or, most seriously, install keystroke logging malware software that harvests all of your computer’s information and makes you a victim of identity theft.

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As always, if the offer looks too good to be true, it probably is, so a bit of skepticism is in order.  If you are routed to a survey, don’t take it and make sure that you do not enter personal information that could lead ot your identity being stolen.  Finally, a bit of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so make sure that your computer security software is up to date and that it includes antiphishing capabilities.  Phishing is when you are directed by a scammer to a phony website that purports to be a legitimate website.

 

Scam of the day – March 14, 2012 – March Madness scams

As I have said many times, scammers are always resourceful and taking advantage of whatever has captured the public’s imagination.  Little has captured the public’s imagination more at this time of year than the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament.  Phony ticket and travel scams abound.

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Although sites such as Craigslist may have listings for tickets, there is no screening process for someone to sell their tickets on Craigslist or similar sites.  Check with your local attorney general, the Better Business Bureau or the FTC about sellers to see if ticket sellers are legitimate.  Always pay by credit card, never a debit card or check so that if the sale is a fraud, you can get the money back form your credit card company.

Scam of the day – March 13, 2012 – Law firm scam

According to a report released yesterday by the FBI, a number of law firms have been victimized by a scam in which the law firm receives an email from an overseas business seeking to hire the law firm to collect debts owed to the overseas company.  A standard retainer agreement is sent by the overseas company along with a certified check.  The law firm is instructed to deduct its initial retainer costs and wire the remainder of the funds back to China, Korea, Ireland or Canada, typically.  Of course, for regular scamicide readers, you have already guessed that the “certified check” was counterfeit and that even if the law firm waited the few days for the check to receive provisional credit from the bank where the law firm deposited the check, the check ultimately bounced and the money wired from the law firm to the overseas company is gone forever.

In another variation of this scam, the initial solicitation comes from a lawyer in another country seeking assistance with a collection.  The scammers use the names of real attorneys so if the American law firm checks out the legitimacy of the foreign lawyer, it would appear to check out.  Of course, if the American law firm actually called the foreign lawyer, they would learn that it was a scam.

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The essence of this scam and many other scams is an overpayment to you of an apparently “certified check” where you are asked to send the diffference to the scammer.  There is never a reason to accept an overpayment check.  That is a red flag that there is a scam involved.  If you do accept a certified check, always contact the issuing bank to make sure that the check is legitimate and even then, do not consider the transaction as being complete until the check has fully cleared and not just provisionally been cleared.

Scam of the day – March 12, 2012 – Latest Facebook Scam

Almost every day brings a new Facebook scam and with good reason.  They work.  The latest involves a post from a “friend” that says that it provides a link to a video of a horrific roller coaster accident that in various posts has occurred in either California, the United Kingdom or Australia.  The post is a scam and like so many of the phony links on Facebook is designed to lure you to something that the scammers believe will appeal to our curiosity.  The first thing to remember is that it is easy to hack into someone’s Facebook page and then send out phony postings so merely because you recognize the poster does not mean that the posting is legitimate.  If you do click on one of these phony links you either end up taking a survey for which the scammer is paid a commission or downloading malware that can lead to your identity being stolen.

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Scammers often have bad grammer so be wary of postings with bad grammer and spelling.  Never click on any link without verifying that it is legitimate.  Check with friends to make sure that they are indeed the people sending you the particular link.