Scam of the Day

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Scam of the day – April 3, 2020 – Scammers Posing as CDC Workers Going Door to Door

With more and more people becoming infected with the Coronavirus, people are very concerned and scammers are taking advantage of that concern through a myriad of scams.  Here at Scamicide.com I will be posting warnings about these scams to help protect you from being swindled.  I also urge you to go to the http://www.scamicide.com website where at the top of the first page you will find a link to a list of Coronavirus scams that is being continually updated.

Today’s Coronavirus related scam involves scammers disguising themselves as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) workers going door to door dressed in white lab coats and wearing masks and gloves offering Coronavirus testing for a fee.  This is a scam.  The CDC is not sending people to private homes to perform or sell Coronavirus test kits.

Here is a Tweet from the Davie, Florida police department warning people about this scam.

View image on Twitter

TIPS

The best source of information regarding Coronavirus testing is the CDC.  You can use this link to learn more about testing for the Coronavirus. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html

It is also important to know that the recent federal stimulus legislation that provided for payments to many people also eliminates all fees for Coronavirus testing.  In addition, the law also requires that doctor’s and emergency room visits related to testing for the Coronavirus are free so don’t fall for the claim of a scammer that you need to pay for a test.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day -April 2, 2020 – FTC Scam Bingo

With so many people sheltering in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the FTC has cleverly taken this as an opportunity to provide homebound people with a game to play that helps raise awareness of the scams that we are all facing in increasing numbers.  The game is called FTC Scam Bingo.  You cover a square when you identify a scam targeting you by phone, email or text message and cover other squares when you take action to avoid scams, such as by hanging up on a robocall.  The scams picked by the FTC are all current scams being reported.  Here is the FTC Scam Bingo card.

TIPS

The FTC suggests that you print out the bingo card and share it on social media and ask your friends to play as well.  With many of us having a lot of time on our hands, reminding ourselves about scams to be avoided and steps to take to avoid scams is indeed a good way to pass the time.

I also want to remind you of the new section of the Scamicide website exclusively dedicated to Coronavirus scams. You can locate the page by going to the top of the http://www.scamicide.com website and clicking on the link to “Coronavirus Scams.”

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – April 1, 2020 – New Mystery Shopper Scam

I have written many times over the last eight years about the mystery shopper scam because it continues to ensnare unwary victims.  Last month I told you that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a new warning about this scam.  Mystery shoppers are people hired to shop at a particular store and report on the shopping experience for purposes of quality control. Unlike many scams, there actually are legitimate mystery shopper companies, but they never advertise or recruit through emails, text messages or letters.

The manner in which the scam generally works is that when you answer an advertisement, or respond to a letter, email or a text message to become a mystery shopper, you are sent a bank check. You  deposit the check into your own account and spend some of the money on the goods that you purchase which you are allowed to keep and also are directed to keep some of the balance of the check as payment for your services. You are instructed to return the remaining funds by a wire transfer. In a recent Walmart themed mystery shopper scam that targeted a Scamicide reader, the targeted victim was told to wire $1,225 of a $1,595 check back to the scammer. The problem is that the check or money order sent to you is counterfeit, but the money you send by wire from your bank account or through prepaid cards is real and is lost forever.

Reproduced below is an email that I received recently soliciting me to become a mystery shopper.

“Hi Dear,
We are looking for people to apply for positions in our team as a secret customer.
How it works :
Register and if you are selected, you will receive $100 for shopping at Kroger,affiliates or at competition stores.
Send us your feedback for your Kroger shopping experience. Your review will make a difference for providing better
services and products. Secret Shoppers are selected randomly every week and if selected,they will be contacted via phone
or email.
You will be paid with amounts between $250-$500 per assignment. You can shop any products you want at your designated
store. No experience, fees or interview are required. Tips and training will be provided for free to our shoppers.A
secret shopper career can be very exciting and for those who love to shop it’s the perfect job that offers fun
assignments and flexible schedules. Your contribution will bring improvement in the services offered to our clients.
Email me the below details :
1. Name :
2. Genders & Ages :
3  Physical A_ddress :
4. Citys / States / Countrys :
5. Zip Codes / Phones :
6. O.c.c.u.p.a.t.i.o.n :
7. Email :
This apology does not apply to anyone who has received similar messages before. You will not be responded
if your data goes double in our records.
Best Regards,
Wayne J Campbell
MSPA Research Inc. 202″

TIPS

One reason why this scam fools so many people is that there really are mystery shopping jobs although the actual number is quite few and they do not go looking for you. An indication that you are involved with a scam is when you receive a check for more than what is owed you and you are asked to wire the difference back to the sender. This is the basis of many scams. Whenever you receive a check, wait for your bank to tell you that the check has fully cleared before you consider the funds as actually being in your account. Don’t rely on provisional credit which is given after a few days, but which will be rescinded once a check bounces and never accept a check for more than what is owed with the intention to send back the rest. That is always a scam. Also be wary whenever you are asked to wire funds or send gift cards because this is a common theme in many scams because it is difficult to trace and impossible to stop. Legitimate companies do not use gift cards as payments.

One questionable part about this particular email is that the salutation consists of “Hi dear” which indicates that this is a mass emailed message not directed to specific people.

If you receive a mystery shopper scam solicitation or check through the mail you can report it to the United States Postal Service at
http://about.usps.com/publications/pub300a/pub300a_tech_024.htm

You also can report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which investigates these scams at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

On an unrelated topic, I am excited to announce a change to the Scamicide website.  The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a multitude of scams spreading as fast as the Coronavirus itself.  Defending yourself from the Coronavirus and the Coronavirus scams is very important and so I have set up a separate section of the Scamicide website that tells you everything you need to know about these Coronavirus related scams and how to defend yourself from them.  This section of Scamicide will be updated regularly.  It can be found by clicking on the link at the top of the opening page of Scamicide marked “Coronavirus scams.”  I urge you to let your friends know about http://www.scamicide.com in general and the Coronavirus scam section in particular so that we can help more people avoid these scams.  Stay safe my friends.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 31, 2020 – FTC Sending Refunds to Student Loan Scam Victims

More than forty-two million Americans have student loans with an outstanding balance of more than 1.4 trillion dollars so it is no surprise that scammers are focusing their attention on these students and former students through scams that falsely promise to provide debt relief.

In October of 2017 the Federal Trade Commission, working with the Attorneys General of eleven states, launched what it cleverly calls, Operation Game of Loans to jointly target these scams.   Some scammers promise dramatic reductions of debt of 50% or more in return for upfront fees of between $500 and $2,500.  Often these scam companies have names that make it appear that they are endorsed by the federal government in order to trick people into trusting them. Such was the case with Strategic Student Solutions, which was one of two student relief companies that in 2018 agreed to settle charges against them by paying millions of dollars and agreeing to be banned from debt relief services permanently. Among the company names used by the defendants in these cases were Strategic Credit Solutions, Student Relief Center and the Home Shield Network.  Now, almost two years later the FTC is mailing 20,988 checks totaling more than 3.1 million dollars to victims of Strategic  Student Solutions.  For information about the refund checks go the middle of the first page of Scamicide.com to the FTC refunds section.  It is important to remember that there are no charges or fees required to get your refund if you were a victim of the scam.  Some scammers try to trick people into paying a fee to them in order to be eligible for a refund.

TIPS

The old adage still is true.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.  Many of these student loan debt relief scammers promise quick loan forgiveness, which is unrealistic.  In addition, you should never pay any upfront fees for student loan debt relief assistance.  Those fees are illegal and are a sure indication that you are being scammed.  Also, remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  Don’t trust scammers merely because they use names that sound like they are affiliated with the government.

For information you can trust about federal student loan repayment option, go to https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans .  There you can learn about loan deferments, forbearance, repayment and loan forgiveness programs and there is never an application fee.  If you owe private student loans, contact your loan servicer directly.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 30, 3030 – Tupperware Website Hacked

The Tupperware company was hacked on March 25th by unknown hackers using a technique called  formjacking.  Formjacking may be one of the most effective cybercriminal tactics that you have, most likely, never heard of.  According to the security company Symantec, approximately 4,800 websites of small, medium and large businesses are targeted by this type of attack each month at a cost to consumers of millions of dollars.  Formjacking occurs when cybercriminals manage to install malicious JavaScript code into the website of the targeted companies.  This malware enables the cybercriminals to steal the credit and debit card information provided by customers when they do business with these legitimate companies.   The hacking of Tupperware went on from March 20th until March 25th before the formjacking malware was removed by Tupperware from its website.  In this particular formjacking the information stolen included the full name of the card holder, the billing address, telephone number, credit card or debit card number, card expiration date, and CVV security code.   Instances of formjacking have increased dramatically during the last year.  Fortunately, security companies can provide security software to counteract formjacking, however, unfortunately, many companies fail to install such software and are quite vulnerable to a formjacking attack.  Making things worse, there is nothing that we as consumers can do to determine whether a website to which we are providing our credit or debit card is infected with formjacking malware and with more people doing their shopping on line during the coronavirus pandemic, we can expect many more of these formjacking attacks.  Tupperware has indicated that it it has removed the malware, is investigating the hacking and will be notifying its customers as more information becomes available.

TIPS

The key to protecting yourself from formjacking is, as I always advise, to never use your debit card for any retail purchases. If your credit card  is used for fraudulent purposes  you cannot be assessed more than $50 for such use and most credit card companies charge consumers nothing if their card is used fraudulently.   However, the potential liability of a person whose debit card has been compromised can reach his or her entire bank account tied to the card if the card owner does not report the crime promptly and even if the card owner does report the theft promptly, the debit card owner’s access to his or her own bank account is frozen while the bank investigates the crime.  Consumers should refrain from using their debit cards for anything other than an ATM card. Use a credit card for all of your card purchases to achieve greater consumer protection.  In addition, you should regularly monitor your bank account tied to your debit card in order to discover as soon as possible if fraudulent use of your debit card has occurred so that you can report it to the bank and limit your liability.  You also should regularly monitor your credit card account, preferably online in order to promptly recognize if your credit card’s security has been breached.  If you used the Tupperware website for a purchase between March 20th and March 25th you should check your credit card or debit card statement promptly.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 29, 2020 – Credit Repair Company Shut Down by FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently settled a lawsuit it had brought against the credit repair company BoostMyScore.net for fraudulent representations and violations of federal regulations.   Credit repair scams are very common as scammers take advantage of people with debt problems and promise to fix their credit and clear their credit reports of adverse information for up front fees.

Your credit report is one of the most important documents in your financial life.  The information in your credit report as maintained by the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian is used to calculate your credit score.  This is used by financial institutions to evaluate your creditworthiness and can affect your ability to get a credit card, mortgage loan or a car loan.  It also can affect the rate that you will be charged on such loans.  In addition, your credit score is used in many states by companies in making hiring decisions and landlords consider credit scores when determining whether or not to rent an apartment or home to someone.

The FTC  had alleged that BoostMyScore.net guaranteed victims of its scam that in return for fees of between $325 and $4,000 they could improve a consumer’s credit scores by as much as 120 points in six weeks by “piggybacking” on a stranger’s good credit report in order to raise the consumer’s own credit report.  In addition to making unsupported promises about their services, BoostMyScore.net also charged their customers upfront for their credit repair services which violates the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA),

TIPS

Don’t fall prey to scammers operating phony credit repair companies and never pay an upfront fee to one of these companies.  Advance fees for credit repair companies that operate for profit are banned by the Credit Repair Organizations Act.  Negative information on your credit report remains on your credit report for seven years and bankruptcies for ten years.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to scam you.  Many of the scam credit repair companies use illegal tactics such as applying for a federal employer ID to use as your Social Security number when applying for credit.  This is illegal. If you need real credit counseling you can go to this section of the Department of Justice’s website where it lists agencies approved to assist consumers with debt problems. https://www.justice.gov/ust/list-credit-counseling-agencies-approved-pursuant-11-usc-111    You also may consider contacting companies that are affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at this link https://www.nfcc.org/

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 28, 2020 – Another Amazon Phishing Email

Shopping on Amazon is extremely popular both with consumers and scammers seeking to exploit Amazon’s popularity.   I have warned you many times over the years about scammers who send various types of phishing emails which purport to be from Amazon attempting to lure you into either clicking on links which can download malware, such as ransomware or providing personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

The latest Amazon phishing scam starts with an email that appears to come from Amazon confirming an order you didn’t make and providing a telephone number for you to call to dispute the order.   If you do call, you will be prompted to verify personal information, however, if you provide the personal information, you will be providing the personal information to a scammer who will use the information to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

While this is a very legitimate appearing email that uses the Amazon logo and also is written with proper grammar and punctuation the grammar, there are a number of indications that this is a phishing email. Legitimate emails from Amazon would  be directed to you by name rather than being addressed to your email address as this phishing email was.   Most tellingly, this phishing email is sent from an address that has no relation to Amazon. If you receive an email like this and think it may possibly be actually from Amazon, merely call the customer service number for Amazon where you can confirm that it is a scam.  The real number to call if you suspect Amazon related fraud is 866-216-1075.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 27, 2020 – Coronavirus Stimulus Package Check Scams

Today, Friday March 27th, the House of Representatives is expected to approve the coronavirus stimulus package approved on Wednesday unanimously by the Senate and send it to the President for his signature.  A significant part of this legislation is the checks of up to $1,200 per person that will be sent by the Department of the Treasury to most Americans. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin expects the checks to be processed and sent to most Americans within three weeks and while this timetable may be a bit optimistic, it does appear that the funds will be sent out relatively quickly.

The amount you will be receiving is dependent upon your adjusted gross income as listed on your most recent federal income tax return. People with adjusted incomes of $75,000 or less will receive $1,200 or $2,400 for qualifying individuals filing a joint income tax return.  In addition, there will be additional payments of $500 for each qualifying child.  Americans with adjusted gross income of more than $75,000 or $150,000 for a joint return will have their payment reduced by 5% of the amount your income exceeds $75,000.  The payments will disappear for single filers with adjusted gross incomes more than $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.

The scammers have been waiting for weeks for this to become a reality and they are ready to strike.  Scammers posing as government employees will be contacting you by phone, email and text messages asking you to pay a fee in order to receive your government check.  Other scammers posing as government officials will ask for your Social Security number, bank account number or credit card number in order for you to qualify for a payment.  The truth is that you do not have to do anything to qualify for a payment.  You do not need to pay a fee.  You do not need to apply for  your check.  You do not need to provide any personal information.  Your eligibility will be determined by the IRS and your check will be either wired directly into the bank account you use to receive your income tax refund or if you have not provided the IRS with information about your bank account, your check will be sent to you by mail.  It is as simple as that.

TIPS

Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  Whenever you are contacted on the phone, by email or text message, you cannot be sure who is really contacting you.  Even if your Caller ID indicates the call is from a legitimate federal agency such as the Treasury Department, it is easy for a scammer to “spoof” that number and make it appear on your Caller ID even if the call is coming from another number.  In regard to the funds soon to be sent to you pursuant to the coronavirus stimulus package you will not have to make a payment or provide personal information in order to receive your check.  Please share this Scam of the day with your friends and family and let them know about http://www.scamicide.com so we can help more people avoid being scammed during this vulnerable time.

If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – March 26, 2020 – Adobe Issues Critical Security Updates

Adobe has just issued new security updates for a number of its products including Adobe Acrobat and Reader.  Last year Adobe confirmed that it will stop updating and distributing Adobe Flash at the end of 2020 although frankly, it would be wise for you to migrate away from this very vulnerable software program as soon as possible. In 2010 Steve Jobs loudly complained about Adobe Flash’s lack of security and would not allow it to be used on iPhones, iPods and iPads due to its serious susceptibility to being hacked. Flaws in Adobe Flash have been exploited by hackers and identity thieves against individuals, companies and government agencies including the U.S. State Department and the White House. Adobe will still be issuing security patches until the end of 2020, but now is a good time to move away from Adobe Flash if you have not already done so.

It is always important to update all of the software you use with the latest security updates and patches as soon as they are available. Numerous hacks and data breaches could have been avoided if individuals as well as companies installed security updates when they became available. Hackers take advantage of the fact that many of us procrastinate installing security software to our great detriment. The major data breach at Equifax that affected 147 million people involved a security flaw in Apache software for which a patch had already been issued months earlier, but Equifax had not yet installed.

TIPS

Here is the link to the latest Adobe security updates for a number of their software programs including Adobe Acrobat and Reader: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2020/03/18/adobe-releases-security-updates-multiple-products

If you have not already done so, it may well be time for you to replace Adobe Flash to avoid future problems.
Here is a link to a website with alternative plugins you may wish to consider to replace Adobe Flash.
http://alternativeto.net/software/flash-player/

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Scam of the day – March 25, 2020 – Publishers Clearing House Scam

Publishers Clearing House, the sponsor of some of the most popular legitimate lotteries in the country no longer limits its contests to one or two a year, but has numerous lotteries each month. Recently there has been an increase in reports of scammers calling people on the telephone and telling them that they have won one of the Publishers Clearing House lotteries, but that they have to pay fees or taxes before being able to claim their prize.  In addition there are reports of targeted victims receiving phony notifications by regular mail that they have won a Publishers Clearing House lottery, but that again they must pay fees or taxes before being able to receive their prize.  Recently, a 91 year old woman in Missouri lost $250,000 to this type of scam.  The scam started in November of 2019 when the scam victim was told on the phone that she had won 4 million dollars in a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.  However, she was told that before she could claim her prize, she needed to pay Publishers Clearing House the income taxes owed on the prize.  Repeatedly from November through February she sent check after check with payments that she thought were to be applied to taxes on her phony winnings.  It wasn’t until her son and daughter in law became aware of what happened that they convinced her to stop sending money to the scammers.

It is hard to win any lottery. It is impossible to win one that you have not even entered and yet scam artists have found that it is extremely lucrative to scam people by convincing them that they have won various lotteries. With so many people entered into the Publishers Clearing House lotteries, it is easier for scammers to convince people that they have won.

Most lottery scams involve the victim being told that they need to pay taxes or administrative fees directly to the lottery sponsor; however no legitimate lottery requires you to do so.  As with many effective scams, the pitch of the scammer seems legitimate. Income taxes are due on lottery winnings, but with legitimate lotteries they are either deducted from the lottery winnings before you receive your prize or you are responsible for paying the taxes directly to the IRS. No legitimate lottery collects taxes on behalf of the IRS from lottery winners.  Other times, the scammer tell the “winners” that in order to collect their prizes, they need to pay administrative fees. Often, the victims are told to send the fees back to the scammer by prepaid gift cards or Green Dot MoneyPak cards. Prepaid cards are a favorite of scammers because they are the equivalent of sending cash. They are impossible to stop or trace. Again, no legitimate lottery requires you to pay administrative fees in order to claim your prize.

TIPS

Fortunately, there is an easy way to know, when you are contacted by Publishers Clearing House by phone, email or text message informing you that you have won one of its major multi-million dollar prizes, whether you have been contacted by the real Publishers Clearing House. Publishers Clearing House only contacts major prize winners in person or by regular mail.  They do not contact winners by phone, email or text message so if you do receive a notification of your winning one of their major multi-million dollar prizes by those means of communication you know it is a scam.   In addition, no winners of the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes are ever required to make a payment of any kind to claim their prize so if you are told that you have won, but are required to make any kind of payment before you can claim your prize, you can be sure that it is a scam.  As for other lotteries, remember, you can’t win a lottery you haven’t entered and no legitimate lottery asks you to pay them administrative fees or taxes.

Even if the Caller ID on your phone indicates the call is actually from Publishers Clearing House, it is very easy for a scammer to use a technique called “spoofing” to make it appear that the call is coming from Publishers Clearing House rather than the scammer who is really making the call. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.

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