Scam of the day – November 27, 2016 – Holiday package delivery scams

Today’s scam of the day is one that is with us throughout the year, but becomes much more common during the holiday shopping season.  It involves package deliveries from UPS, Federal Express or other delivery services and has a number of different variations.  In one variation, you receive an email that looks quite official and may even carry the logo for UPS, Federal Express or some other courier service.  The email tells you that there is a package for you, but you need to make delivery arrangements.  You then are instructed to either provide personal information, such as your credit card number or merely to click on a link.  If you provide personal information, you have just turned over that information to an identity thief.  If you click on the link, you will be downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal the information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

In another variation of the scam, a notice of attempted delivery is left on your door with a telephone number for you to call and arrange for delivery of the package.  Once you call, the person answering requires you to provide personal information in order to confirm the order.  Of course, no delivery service needs any personal information from someone to whom they are delivering a package.  If they ask for such information, it is a scam.  And think about it.  Why would a deliver service need your Social Security number or credit card number if you are receiving a package?

TIPS

As I have told you many times, you cannot trust any link in an email until you have confirmed that the email is legitimate.  In this case, you should call the delivery service at a number that you know is accurate to confirm whether or not the email was legitimate.  You will then find that the email was a scam.  Delivery services do not send emails to the people receiving packages.  They don’t even know your email.  As for a telephone call from someone purporting to be a delivery service employee, you can never be sure whether someone really is who they say they are on the phone, so once again, you should call the delivery company at a number that you know is accurate to confirm whether or not the call was legitimate.  Finally, remember, no delivery service ever needs your personal information such as credit card number, Social Security number or birth date.  Anytime anyone asks for that information on a phone call to you, you should just hang up.

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 – December 3, 2014 – Phony electronic coupons

Discount coupons are a way of life and with good reason.  Many coupons can reduce the cost of your purchases dramatically.  During the holiday shopping season, people are looking for extra savings wherever they can find them.  One place you may find them is in an email or text message from a company with which you do business.  The email may look just like a legitimate message from a retailer with which you do business, but in many instances it will be a counterfeit coupon that will either lure you into clicking on a link that will download keystroke logging malware on to your computer or smartphone that will enable the criminal to steal personal information from your electronic device and use it to make you a victim of identity theft or you will be required to provide personal information in order to access the coupon.  Again, this information is used to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

It is impossible to be able to be sure as to whether or not a coupon you receive in an email or text message is legitimate or not.  Even the email address or number of the sender can be faked to make it appear legitimate.  However, this does not mean that you have to lose out on the coupon.  If indeed it is a legitimate coupon, it will also be available on the particular retailer’s website so merely go to the company’s website (and not by clicking on a link in the text message or email) and you will be able to access real coupons.

Scam of the day – November 19, 2014 – The twelve scams of Christmas

It seems that the holiday season starts earlier and earlier each year so it certainly is not too early to warn you about some of the many scams that will be threatening your holidays if you are not careful.  As it says, in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” you better watch out.  My list of twelve scams of Christmas isn’t meant to be sung, but it is meant to provide an early warning of the fact that although every season is scam season, the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time of year for scams.  Here is my list of twelve scams of Christmas.  Over the next month I will be explaining them in detail here on Scamicide.

1.  Major data breach at retailers.

2.  Phony online shopping websites purporting to sell the latest toys and gadgets.

3.  Gift card scams.

4.  Delivery service scams.

5.  E greeting card scams.

6.  Phony charities.

7.  Puppy scams in which you are sold non-existent dogs.

8.  Phishing emails that appear to come from major retailers.

9.  Phony holiday vacation deals.

10. Phony holiday apps for your smartphone.

11. Phony holiday contests and lotteries.

12. Grandparent scam – holiday style.

TIPS

Although I will be explaining these scams in detail over the next month, here are a few major tips to keep in mind.

When shopping in a retail store, if you have the Apple iPay, use it.  It may not be perfect, but it is a great improvement over the magnetic stripe credit cards still used by almost all American retailers.   You also might want to consider getting a smart chip card from your credit card provider and using it at the stores such as WalMart which are switching to these safer credit cards well ahead of the October 2015 deadline to change over to the new cards.  Also remember not to use your debit card while retail shopping.  The consumer protection laws relating to debit card use are not as strong as those relating to fraudulent use of credit cards.  It is important to remember that there will be major data breaches at retail stores where we all shop and the hacked companies won’t be quick to discover that they have been hacked so carefully monitor on line your credit card’s usage more often than your monthly statement to be able to learn as quickly as possible if you have been victimized in a data breach.  Also, when shopping at a brick and mortar retail store, keep an eye on your credit card as it is processed by the sales clerk.  There will be more than a few seasonal, rogue employees who will have small electronic devices called skimmers that enable the sales clerk to run your card through this card reading skimmer to steal your credit card information before running the card through the store’s legitimate credit card processing equipment.

Here is a link to a column I wrote for USA Today that describes these holiday scams.  Within the column is another link to an additional column on the same subject.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/11/22/holiday-scams-identity-theft/19340731/