Scam of the day – November 10, 2017 – Veterans’ Day scams

Tomorrow, November 11th is Veterans’ Day, a day we set aside to honor those who have served our country and to whom all Americans owe a debt of gratitude.  However, for scam artists, tomorrow is just another opportunity to take advantage of the best intentions of people and steal their money.  People will be receiving telephone calls that purport to be from various veterans’ organizations or charities seeking donations when, in fact, many of these calls will be from scammers seeking to steal money under false pretenses.

Other scams related to Veterans’ Day will occur when veterans receive telephone calls purporting to be from the Veterans’ Administration asking for personal information necessary to verify or update the information of the VA.  Of course, the call is not from the VA and the request for personal information is merely to gather that type of information in order to make the veteran a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Even if you are on the federal Do Not Call List, which is a good thing to be on if you wish to avoid telemarketers, you are legally able to be called by charities.  The problem is that whenever you receive a call purporting to be from a charity, you have absolutely no way of knowing if you are being contacted by a legitimate charity.  You also cannot know, without doing some research, whether the particular veterans’ charity that may be contacting you is legitimate or not.   As I often advise you, never give personal information such as credit card information to anyone over the phone if you have not made the call.  If you are considering a gift to a particular charity, first check out the charity with www.charitynavigator.org to make sure that the charity is legitimate and then get the address from charitynavigator.org for the charity, if it is legitimate,  so that if you wish to make a gift, you can make it directly to the charity.

As for calls that you may receive purporting to be from the VA or any other governmental agency requesting information, you should never provide information over the phone to anyone because, as I indicated above, you can never be sure if the caller is who he or she says they are.  In this case, you should contact the particular agency at a telephone number that you know is accurate to confirm whether or not the request for personal information was legitimate or not.  Most of the time, the call will turn out to be a scam.

Scam of the day – October 16, 2017 – Breast Cancer Awareness Month telemarketing scams

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and scammers are taking full advantage of the increased attention to this disease which is diagnosed in 200,000 women each year.   Recently, I received a telephone call from a telemarketer seeking a contribution to a breast cancer charity or at least that is what she said.  Even if you are on the federal Do-Not-Call List, the law permits charities and politicians to contact you.  However, whenever you receive a telephone call, you can never be sure who is really calling you.  Even if your Caller ID indicates that the call you are getting is coming from a charity the name of which you recognize, the call actually may be from a scammer using a technique called Spoofing to make it appear that the call is legitimate when it is not.  The truth is that the call you receive may or may not be from a legitimate charity or a telemarketer on behalf of a legitimate charity and you can’t tell who is really on the other end of the line.

TIPS

When you receive such a call from a telemarketer or someone purporting to represent a charity, if you are interested in the particular charity, the best thing you can do is just to ask them to send you written material.  Do not provide your credit card number over the phone to anyone who calls you because you cannot be sure that they are legitimate.   Also, as I have warned you in the past, many phony charities have names that are similar to real charities so it is always a good idea to investigate a charity before you make a charitable contribution.  In addition, when you receive a charitable solicitation telephone call from a telemarketer, the telemarketer is generally being paid a commission for the money he or she collects.  Thus, your contribution to the charity is diluted by the amount that goes to the telemarketer and as Jerry Seinfeld would say, “not that there is anything wrong with that.”    However, if you really want to make your charitable contribution go farther, you will  be  better served by first checking out the particular charity at www.charitynavigator.org where you can find out not only if the particular charity is legitimate, but also how much of your contribution goes toward administrative costs and how much actually goes toward the charity’s charitable purposes.  Then you can make your contribution directly to the charity without any amount being deducted for fund raising expenses.

Scam of the day – October 9, 2017 – Las Vegas shooting victims charity scams

Too many times since I have first started writing Scamicide.com I have had to warn you about lowlife scammers taking advantage of people wanting to help the victims of tragedies such as the recent attack on concert goers in Las Vegas and the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.  Scammers will call you, text you, email you or set up websites with the intent to steal your charitable donations.  In the case of phony charity websites, they are sometimes set up to appear to be those of legitimate charities with which you may be familiar.

TIPS

Go to www.charitynavigator.org before you consider giving to any charity.  This free website will let you know if the charity is legitimate or a scam.  It will also tell you how much of what it collects actually goes toward its charitable work and how much it spends on salaries and administration expenses.  You can also get from charitynavigator.org the phone number and website of charities that you may wish to consider.  When you are called by someone purporting to be from a charity, you can never be sure who is really calling you.

Here is a link to the page of charitynavigator.org with a list of legitimate charities aiding in the Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=5356&from=homepage

Here is a link to the page of charitynavigator.org with a list of legitimate charities aiding the victims of the Las Vegas concert shootings.

A legitimate GoFundMe effort called the Las Vegas Victims Fund was started by the Nevada’s Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak to help the victims of the Las Vegas shootings.  Here is a link to that page.

https://www.gofundme.com/dr2ks2-las-vegas-victims-fund

Scam of the day – August 29, 2017 – Beware of Hurricane Harvey charity scams

Hurricane Harvey, which first hit Texas four days ago has brought devastating rains, wind and flooding.   This kind of natural disaster brings out the best in us as many people are quick to donate to charities to help the survivors of the storms and the families of the victims.  This kind of natural disaster also brings out the worst in scammers  who are quick to take advantage of the generosity of people by contacting them posing as charities, but instead of collecting funds to help the victims of the storms, these scam artists steal the money for themselves under false pretenses.   Charities are not subject to the federal Do Not Call List so even if you are enrolled in the Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you.  The problem is that whenever you are contacted on the phone, you can never be sure as to who is really calling you so you may be contacted either by a phony charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity.  Similarly, when you are solicited for a charitable contribution by email or text message you cannot be sure as to whether the person contacting you is legitimate or not.

TIPS

Never provide credit card information over the phone to anyone whom you have not called or in response to an email or text message.  Before you give to any charity, you may wish to check out the charity with www.charitynavigator.org where you can learn whether or not the charity itself is a scam.  You can also see how much of the money that the charity collects actually goes toward its charitable purposes and how much it uses for fund raising and administrative costs.  Here is a link to charitynavigator.org with a list of a number of highly rated charities helping in the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.  https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=5239

Recommended charities include Americares, International Relief Teams, Direct Relief, GlobalGiving, Save the Children and the American Red Cross.

Scam of the day – November 29, 2016 – Giving Tuesday scams

Following the major shopping days referred to as Black Friday and Cyber Monday now comes Giving Tuesday which was first designated as a special day to focus on helping out people in need through charitable gifts in 2012.  This is a time of the year when many people are receptive to solicitations from charities.  Unfortunately, not all of those solicitations will be from legitimate charities.  Many of those calls, letters and emails will be from scammers posing as charities.

Even if you are on the federal Do-Not-Call List, which I strongly recommend unless you want to talk to telemarketers, the law permits charities to contact you by phone.  Unfortunately, whenever you receive a telephone call, you can never be sure who is really calling you.  Even if your Caller ID indicates that the call you are getting is coming from a charity whose name you recognize, the call actually may be from a scammer using a technique called Spoofing to make it appear that the call is legitimate when it is not.  The truth is that the call you receive may or may not be from a legitimate charity or a telemarketer on behalf of a legitimate charity and you have no way of knowing who is really on the other end of the line.

TIPS

When you receive such a call from a telemarketer or someone purporting to represent a charity, if you are interested in the particular charity, the best thing you can do is just to ask them to send you written material.  Do not provide your credit card number over the phone to anyone who calls you because you cannot be sure that they are legitimate.   Also, as I have warned you in the past, many phony charities have names that are similar to real charities so it is always a good idea to investigate a charity before you make a charitable contribution.  In addition, when you receive a charitable solicitation telephone call from a telemarketer, the telemarketer is generally being paid a commission for the money he or she collects.  Thus, your contribution to the charity is diluted by the amount that goes to the telemarketer although as Jerry Seinfeld would say, “not that there is anything wrong with that.”    However, if you really want to make your charitable contribution go farther, you will  be  better served by first checking out the particular charity at www.charitynavigator.org where you can find out not only if the particular charity is legitimate, but also how much of your contribution goes toward administrative costs and how much actually goes toward the charity’s charitable work.  Charitynavigator.org will also show you the best address to send your contribution.  Then you can make your contribution directly to the charity without any amount being deducted for fund raising expenses.

Scam of the day – November 25, 2016 – Holiday scams

Today is Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year and the kickoff to the 2016 holiday shopping season.  There are many scams that attempt to turn our holiday awareness into scams.  They include malware contaminated e-cards, phony charitable solicitations and, of course a myriad of shopping related scams.  Over the next few weeks, I will be warning you about these scams and telling you what you can do to protect yourselves.

TIPS

For those people shopping in the malls and stores around the country today, remember to use your credit card  instead of your debit card. While federal law limits the amount for which you are liable when fraudulent charges are made using your credit card to no more than $50, with a debit card, if you do not recognize that your account has been compromised right away, the identity thief could potentially empty the entire bank account tied to your debit card.  In addition, even if you do notice the fraudulent use immediately, your account will be frozen while the bank does its investigation into the matter, thereby limiting your access to your funds.

Also, if you are using your credit card in a store that is not equipped to take the EMV chip credit card, be on the lookout for skimmers, which are small devices that a criminal uses to steal your credit card information by swiping the card through a portable skimmer before running it through the store’s credit card processing equipment.  In addition, some skimmers are surreptitiously installed on the credit card equipment of the stores and other times, the store’s processing equipment has been hacked to steal this information as your card is being processed. Keep an eye on your credit card every minute that the clerk has it in his or her possession to make sure that he or she only swipes it through the store’s credit card processor and doesn’t do that extra swipe through a skimmer.  Also, check your credit card account balance periodically online to detect if there have been any security breaches.  Don’t wait for your monthly statement.

Scam of the day – August 3, 2016 – Police charity scams

The recent fatal shootings of five Dallas police officers has brought out the compassion and best charitable instincts of people around the country.  Unfortunately, it has also brought out scammers who have set up phony charities seeking to take advantage of people wanting to help the families of the fallen officers.  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is warning people about these scams which come through text messages, emails, websites and telephone calls.  In every instance, whenever you are contacted directly by someone soliciting for a particular charity, you not only do not know whether the charity is a scam, you also don’t know how much of your contribution to a “legitimate” charity goes to the charitable work of the charity and how much goes to the salaries of the charity’s management.

TIPS

In regard to people wanting to help the families of the five Dallas police officers killed recently, the Dallas Police Department is suggesting that people make their contributions to the Assist the Officer Foundation http://atodallas.org/?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation http://www.dallasfof.org/?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= or the Dallas Foundation https://lineofdutyfund.kimbia.com/lineofduty

In general, before you give to any charity, it is a good idea to check out the charity with www.charitynavigator.org where you can find out whether or not the charity is a scam as well as how much of what it collects actually goes toward its charitable work and how much goes to pay for salaries and fund raising.

Scam of the day – June 17, 2016 – Scams springing up following the Orlando nightclub shootings

Today’s Scam of the day, unfortunately is very much a repeat of warnings I have had to make after tragedies such as the school shootings at the Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Today,’s warning, of course, relates to the tragic shootings of innocent people at an Orlando nightclub this past week.  Scammers and identity thieves will be preying upon both our best and worst instincts in response to this tragedy.  People seeking videos and photographs of the event may find themselves clicking on links that purport to provide you with such material, but may only end up downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal all of the information from the computers of these curious people who will find themselves becoming victims of identity theft.

Another group of scams stemming from the murders will be the pleas for charitable contributions for the victims and their families.  You should always be wary when anyone asks you for a charitable donation, but particularly when a charitable solicitation quickly follows an emotional event such as the killings in Orlando.  You will want to make sure that you are giving to legitimate charities that will use your contribution wisely rather than giving your money to a scammer or a “legitimate” charity that misuses your donations by paying its administrator inordinately large salaries.  It is important to know the difference between a legitimate charity and a phony one.

TIP

Whenever you are contacted by a charity whether by text, phone, email or otherwise, you can never be sure that the person contacting you legitimately represents the charity or that the charity itself is legitimate.  If you are charitably inclined, you should not respond directly to the person or entity soliciting you, but rather first, confirm that the charity itself is legitimate.  Many phony charities have similar names to legitimate charities. You should always check out the legitimacy of the charity first before considering making a contribution.  A good place to find out if a charity is legitimate or merely has a name that sounds legitimate is www.charitynavigator.org.  This website also will provide you with information as to how much of the charity’s collected donations actually are applied to its charitable works and how much goes to administrative fees and salaries.  As a general rule of thumb if a charity spends more than 25% of its donations on salaries and administrative costs, you may wish to contribute to another charity.

As for looking for videos and other “inside” information about the Orlando shootings,  many of the sources for that “exclusive” information will be infected with malware that will attack your computer and lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft.  So first and foremost, it is important to have good firewalls and security software installed and kept up to date on all of your electronic devices including your computers, smart phones, iPads and other portable devices that you use.  Many people may think to protect their home computers, but fail to protect their portable devices even though they may use these devices as much and even more than their home computers.  Second, you should not click on any link unless you are sure that it is legitimate and even if the link is contained in what appears to be a text message or social media posting of a friend, you can’t be sure that your friend has not had his or her account hacked into by an identity thief in order to make you more trusting than you should be of the message being sent.  Additionally, even if you receive a text, email or social media posting that actually is from a friend of yours, it may merely be passing on to you a tainted link that your friend does not realize they are helping to spread after receiving it themselves from a source that they should not have trusted.  Frankly, the safest course of action is not to click on any links from anyone that try to appeal to your curiosity about major public events such as this, but rather limit your search for information to legitimate news websites that you can be confident are not likely to contain tainted or provide  inaccurate information.  As for those people who lust after disturbing videos and photographs that they think they will only be able to access from “special” sources, those special sources are usually phony as are the videos and photographs that they provide, however, the malware that you get from them is very real and dangerous.

Scam of the day – April 25, 2016 – Ecuador and Japan earthquake charity scams

The problems following the recent devastating earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan continue to increase with affected people in those areas of the world in great need of help.   This kind of natural disaster brings out the best in us as many people are quick to make donations to charities to help the earthquake survivors and the families of the victims.  This kind of natural disaster also brings out the worst in scammers  who are quick to take advantage of the generosity of people by contacting them, posing as charities, but instead of collecting funds to help the victims of these natural disasters, the scam artists steal the money for themselves under false pretenses.   Charities are not subject to the federal Do Not Call List so even if you are enrolled in the Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you.  The problem is that whenever you are contacted on the phone, you can never be sure as to who is really calling you so you may be contacted either by a phony charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity.  Similarly, when you are solicited for a charitable contribution by email or text message, you cannot be sure as to whether the person contacting you is legitimate or not.

TIPS

Never provide credit card information over the phone to anyone whom you have not called or in response to an email or text message.  Before you give to any charity, you may wish to check out the charity with www.charitynavigator.org where you can learn whether or not the charity itself is a scam.  You can also see how much of the money that the charity collects actually goes toward its charitable purposes and how much it uses for fund raising and administrative costs.  If you do wish to make a donation to a charity, go to the real charity’s website or call them at a telephone number that you know is accurate in order to make your donation rather than responding to a telephone call or electronic communication.  Charitynavigator.org lists some highly rated charities involved with earthquake relief, which you may wish to consider if you are thinking about making such a charitable gift.  They are Global Giving, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, and the International Medical Corps.  Below are links to their pages on Charitynavigator.org that describes the charities in detail as well as provide a link to make a donation if you are so inclined.

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=11648#.Vxt5gfkrIkU

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=12691#.Vxt5uPkrIkU

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=8158#.Vxt59fkrIkU

 

Scam of the day – October 11, 2015 – South Carolina flood scams

Many people have been touched by the photographs and videos showing the plight of the victims of the recent flooding in South Carolina and are responding by making donations to charities helping the flood victims.  Unfortunately, such natural disasters also bring out scammers seeking to put the touch on charitably inclined people by setting up phony charities to take advantage of the situation.

Scammers are setting up phony charities or using the names of legitimate charities to steal charitable donations that should be going to help those in need.  In addition, there are some “legitimate” charities that spend an inordinate amount of what they collect in donations on their own salaries and administrative costs rather than use the funds to meet the needs of the people the particular charity is supposed to be helping.

TIPS

Be very wary of telemarketers seeking charitable contributions.   Whenever you receive a telephone call that purports to be from a charity, you can never be sure that the caller is legitimate.  In addition, even if the caller is a legitimate solicitor on behalf of a charity, they work on commission and some of what you donate will be going to the telemarketer.  If a telemarketer arouses your interest in a particular charity, ask the telemarketer to send you written information that you can review before making a contribution directly to the charity that you know will go entirely to the charity.

As for email and text message solicitations from charities, be particularly careful because not only can you not be sure if they are legitimate or not, they may be even worse than that.  The email or text message may contain a link or attachment that has malware that can steal the information from your computer or smartphone and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

Many phony charities have names that are deceptively similar to those of legitimate charities so it is always a good idea to investigate a particular charity before you make a donation.  Charitynavigator.org is a great resource.  It is a free website at which you can look up any charity to which you may be considering making a donation.  Not only will Charitynavigator.org tell you whether or not the charity is a scam or not, it also will tell you how much of the money given to the charity goes toward its charitable works and how much it pays in salary and administrative costs.