Scam of the day – August 2, 2016 – Netflix phishing scam

The popularity of Netflix makes it a preferred subject for phishing emails sent to people appearing to come from Netflix in which you are told you need to update your credit card information.  Reproduced below is a copy of an email presently being circulated.  It looks legitimate, but it is easy to counterfeit the Netflix logo and make the email appear to be legitimate when it is not.  Two things can happen if you click on the link in the email.  Either you will be directed to a phony but legitimate looking website where you will be prompted to input your credit card information and thereby turn it over to an identity thief or, even worse, merely by clicking on the link, you will download keystroke logging malware that can steal all of the information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

netflix phising.jpg

TIPS

As I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  You can never be truly sure when you receive an email seeking personal information such as your credit card number whether or not the email is a scam.  The risk of clicking on a link or providing the requested information is just too high.  Instead, if you think that the email might be legitimate, you should contact the company at a telephone number that you know is legitimate and find out whether or not the email was a scam.

Scam of the day – October 19, 2015 – Phony IRS phone calls continue to scam taxpayers

Although I have been warning you about this particular scam for years, another warning is warranted in the light of the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration disclosing last week that since October of 2013 there have been reports of approximately 736,000 people being called by scammers posing as IRS agents demanding immediate payment of overdue taxes by credit card,  prepaid debit cards or wired funds.    Often the scammers threaten their victims with criminal charges, deportation or loss of a driver’s license.  According to J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the IRS is aware of about 4,550 victims who have paid more than 23 million dollars to these scammers.  Unfortunately, the real figure of victims and money lost is most likely far in excess of these figure.

TIPS

This scam is easy to spot.   The IRS will never initiate communications with a taxpayer by phone so if someone calls you purporting to be from the IRS in an initial effort to collect overdue taxes, you should hang up because it is a scam.   Even if your Caller ID appears to show that the call is from the IRS, this does not mean that the call actually is from the IRS.  Through a technique called “spoofing” a scammer can make the call appear to be legitimate, but it is not.  The IRS will never demand payment by credit card, debit card, cash card or wired funds through an initial telephone call.  If you think that you really may owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to speak to a real IRS employee.  If you receive a scam call, you may wish to report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

Scam of the day – August 18, 2014 – IRS issues new warning about phony collection calls

Although I have been warning you about this particular scam for a long time, most recently in my Scam of the Day for March 1, 2014, another warning is warranted in the light of the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration disclosing that so far in 2014 there have been more than 90,000 complaints to the IRS about scam telephone calls in which a scam artist calls an unwary victim and pretends that the scammer is calling from the IRS.  The person receiving the telephone call is told that he or she must pay an overdue tax amount immediately by way of credit card, debit card, cash card or wired funds or there will be harsh penalties including jail time.   Already this year, this scam has cost American taxpayers millions of dollars.

TIPS

This scam is easy to spot.   The IRS will never initiate communications with a taxpayer by phone so if someone calls you purporting to be from the IRS in an initial effort to collect overdue taxes, you should hang up because it is a scam.   Even if your Caller ID appears to show that the call is from the IRS, this does not mean that the call actually is from the IRS.  Through a technique called “spoofing” a scammer can make the call appear to be legitimate, but it is not.  The IRS will never demand payment by credit card, debit card, cash card or wired funds through an initial telephone call.  If you think that you really may owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to speak to a real IRS employee.  If you receive a scam call, you may wish to report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

Scam of the day – August 5, 2014 – Clever credit card scam

There is a reason that scam artists are the only criminals whom we refer to as artists.  Some of them are just amazingly clever.  Sharron Parish was recently arrested and charged with scamming Apple out of $309,768 as well as scamming Enterprise Rent a Car and other victims.  His scheme was a devilishly simple exploitation of a flaw in credit card processing by retailers.  According to law enforcement officials, Parrish would go to stores and attempt to pay for expensive goods with debit cards from closed accounts.  When the card was processed at the retailer, it would, of course, come back as declined.  Parrish, it is alleged, would then feign surprise and tell the clerk that he just needed to call his bank to straighten this misunderstanding out.  He then would make a fake phone call in front of the clerk after which he would tell the clerk that the bank gave him an authorization code number from the bank for the clerk to enter into the credit card processor in order to authorize the sale.  The clerk would enter the number and the sale would go through.

But how did Parrish know the code?  He didn’t.  Because of a vulnerability in the credit and debit card processing system and random number of digits so long as they were of the proper length would cause the credit or debit card denial to be overridden.

TIPS

Retailers should be very wary of this easily perpetrated scam which is particularly harmful to the retailer because since the credit or debit card was already declined by the bank, the retailer who puts the sale through is held liable for the purchase.  Retailers should not permit their clerks to allow denied cards to be used under any circumstances.  The risk is too great.

Scam of the day – May 2, 2014 – First Premier Bank credit card scam

Today’s scam comes directly from my email box and although I just received it, the scam it represents has been around for a few years.  It looks pretty legitimate, but it is not.  It is a scam.  If you click on the links, one of two things will happen.  Either you will be sent through this phishing scam to a website that looks legitimate and asks for personal information from you in order to complete the credit card application or you will unwittingly download keystroke logging malware.  In either case, the information gained by through this scam will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

In this particular case, a close look at the email address from which it was sent indicates that this is not from First Premier Bank.   However, even if the address from which it is sent appears to be legitimate, it is not.  First Premier Bank does not send email applications.  In any event, you can never be sure when you receive an email that requires you to click on a link or download an attachment whether it is legitimate or not merely by looking at it.  If you have any thought that the email might be legitimate, you should contact the real company it purports to be from to confirm whether or not this is a scam.  In this case, you will soon learn that it is a scam.  here is a copy of what I received.  DO NOT CLICK on either link.

First PREMIER Bank MasterCard – Complete an Application – Responses in 60 Seconds – Click Here!
http://tr.shapexnk.com/r/3313O27dd0O72f77aOa3O6feO1O198189aeOc3RldmVuamp3ZWlzbWFuQGFvbC5jb20

 

Scam of the day – February 3, 2014 – Small charge on credit card scam

This particular scam has been around for ten years, but with the increased hacking of credit card information from major retailers such as Target, the scam has been increasing in frequency.  The scam starts when your credit card number is compromised and falls into the hands of an identity thief.  Although this can happen in a myriad of ways, one of the more common ways is that the people who hack large numbers of credit card numbers from companies such as Target, sell the numbers to identity thieves on black market websites.  Some identity thieves will buy thousands of credit card numbers and then set up phony online businesses from which they make monthly charges on the cards in small amounts, such as $9.84.  Why, you might ask do they use this number?  Many people do not scrutinize their monthly credit card statement sufficiently, particularly when the charge is an innocuous, small amount that is less than ten dollars and appears to be made to a legitimate sounding company thus enabling the scam to continue for great periods of time before it is discovered.  This scam has been a  particular favorite of identity thieves in Cyprus, the UK and India who have gone to great effort to create websites for phony, but legitimate looking companies from which these charges are made.

TIPS

In a famous quote attributed to a number of early American Revolutionary leaders including Thomas Jefferson, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”  That quote is certainly applicable to life today in regard to avoiding scams and identity theft.  It is important to review your credit card statements, bank statements and other account records carefully each month and even more often, online.  Identifying any irregularities or improper activities and reporting them immediately is a good way to protect yourself from serious identity theft.

Scam of the day – January 2, 2014 – African organized crime activities in USA

The FBI has just issued a warning about the actions of organized crime members from Africa who are perpetrating a rather unusual credit card scam in the United States.  Credit cards are processed generally through systems in which the retailer’s processing equipment sends a signal to the credit card authorizer when the card is swiped through the retailer’s card reader.  In the normal case, the authorizer approves the sale and the transaction is completed.  What these African organized crime members have been doing is merely covering with aluminum foil the feed horns, which are the part of the retailers satellite equipment that transmits the messages and thereby blocking the systems from working.  These feed horns are located on the roofs of the retail establishments using this technology.  Unsuspecting retailers have come to learn that while they thought that the credit card transactions had actually been processed, the interference with the transmissions caused the cards never to have been charged and because many retailers do not validate every credit card transaction, the criminals have been able to purchase expensive electronic equipment without paying for them.  The criminals then have been pawning the equipment in New York or sending the equipment back to Africa.  At the present time, this scam appears to have been limited to Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but is expected to spread rapidly throughout America.

TIPS

Retailers should make sure that they validate every credit card transaction before completing the sale and if their credit card systems appear not to be working, they should make sure that the system is truly malfunctioning rather than merely having been tampered with at their establishment.  The ease with which this particular scam can be accomplished and the low cost involved with perpetrating this fraud  almost guarantees that we will be seeing more of this soon.

Scam of the day – November 22, 2013 – Express Courier scam

It is for good reason that scam artists are the only criminals whom we refer to as artists.  A new scam that has recently surfaced is ample evidence of the cleverness of some of these criminals.  The scam starts when you receive a call from a company that calls itself Express Courier inquiring as to whether you are going to be home to sign for a delivery.  When the delivery person arrives, he gives you a beautiful basket of flowers and wine.  It does not come with a card indicating who sent the gift, but you are told that the card will arrive later separately.  You are then asked to not just sign for receipt of the gift package, but to also provide a credit card to pay a minor $3.50 delivery/verification charge that proves that the gift, which included an alcoholic beverage was left in the custody of an adult over the age of 21.  The whole things seems pretty reasonable so people are providing their credit cards which are then swiped through a hand held card processor for the $3.50 charge.  It is not until later that the victim learns that the device through which the card was swiped was not a credit card processor, but rather a skimmer, which is a device about which I have written many times in Scamicide.  A skimmer is used by identity thieves to capture the information from credit cards and debit cards which is later used to access the credit card accounts and bank accounts of the victims and that is just what is happening in these cases.  The victims soon learn that their credit cards have been used for large purchases by the identity thieves and even worse, if the victim used a debit card, his or her bank account was soon emptied.

TIPS

Never provide your credit card to anyone unless you are sure that they are legitimate.  In this case, Express Courier is a legitimate company, however the scam artists pulling off this con were not associated with the real Express Courier, but merely posed as legitimate employees.  When you receive a delivery for something you have not ordered, such as a gift, you are not charged anything and you should not pay anything regardless of the pretext used by the scammer to get you to provide a credit card or a debit card.  Also, you should limit your use of debit cards to use as ATM cards because if you do become a victim of a scam, you do not get the same consumer protections with a debit card that you get with a credit card.  Check out “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” for more information about debit card dangers.

Scam of the day – September 30, 2012 – Smart card scams

More and more credit card companies are issuing what are referred to as “smart cards” which are credit cards with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology embedded in microchips in the card.  The card can be used for purchases by merely holding the card within a few inches of a remote card reader used by retailers.  However, not only can the card be read by the retailer, but unknown to you, a scammer with a remote card reader in his or her pocket can come close to your pocket where you may be carrying your smart card and read the information on the card without your ever being aware of the data theft.  Many smart card issuers now encrypt your data so that the scammer stealing the information would also need to be able to decode the information.  However, it is still a good practice if you have a smart card to consider using one of the new thin aluminum wallets that will block a scammer from being able to remotely read your card.

TIPS

If you do have a smart card, make sure that you keep it in an aluminum wallet when you are not using it and always keep the card in sight when you use it for a purchase.  Also, make sure that you check your credit card statement carefully every month to make sure that there are no unauthorized charges appearing on your bill.  If you do find unauthorized charges, contact your credit card issuer and dispute the charges immediately.