Scam of the Day

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Scam of the day – August 16, 2019 – New FTC Website With Do Not Call and Robocall Data

Since it began in 2003, the National Do Not Call list has grown to include  more than 235 million phone numbers.  When you register your phone number with the Do Not Call list it becomes illegal for telemarketers to contact you by phone.  The Do Not Call list does not apply to charities so you still may be contacted by charities even if you have registered for the Do Not Call list. However, when you receive a call from someone purporting to be representing a charity, you can never be sure who is really calling so you should never give your credit card number to someone who calls you allegedly from a charity. If you are interested in donating to a particular charity, contact the charity directly to make your contribution.

If you are registered for the Do Not Call list and you do receive a call from a telemarketer, you can be confident that the call is a scam because no legitimate telemarketer would call you if you are enrolled in the Do Not Call list. It is also important to note that while telemarketing is not in and of itself illegal, telemarketing through robocalls is always illegal.   Registering for the Do Not Call list will not stop robocalls. Illegal automated robocalls continue to be a major source of complaint for many people with the most common subjects of illegal robocalls being debt reduction, vacation and timeshares and warranty plans.

The FTC has now created an interactive public web page that provides a wealth of information about the Do Not Call Registry and robocalls.  Included in the information on the new web page are the types of calls prompting the most complaints.  Presently the most complained of calls relate to phony debt reduction schemes.  Here is the link to the new web page.  https://public.tableau.com/profile/federal.trade.commission?utm_source=govdelivery#!/vizhome/DoNotCallComplaints/Maps

TIPS

Registering for the do not call list is easy and free.  Merely go to www.donotcall.gov to register your phone number.

There are a number of other options for preventing robocalls including a number of apps that for free or a small fee will  reduce and in some instances prevent robocalls.
Samsung’s SmartCall informs you if the call you are receiving is from a known robocaller. This feature is available with newer Samsung Galaxy phones. Here is a link to information about SmartCall and instructions as to how to activate this app.
http://www.samsung.com/levant/apps/smart-call/

Google also has a spam blocker that will warn you when you are receiving a robocall and your screen will turn red. Here is a link to information about the app and how to install it.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.dialer&hl=en

AT&T also offers free apps to block robocalls on iPhones and Android phones. Here is a link to information about these apps.
https://www.att.com/features/security-apps.html?partner=LinkShare&siteId=TnL5HPStwNw-yrUS1uDw9WGvN._xt67yew&source=ECay0000000CEL00O

Verizon’s CallerName ID is a free service for iPhones and Android phones that will alert you to suspected robocallers. Here is a link to Verizon’s app.
https://www.verizonwireless.com/solutions-and-services/caller-name-id/

T-Mobile offers a free scam blocker of known robocallers for Android phones which you can activate by merely dialing #662#

Sprint offers a paid service to protect your iPhone or Android phone from robocalls. For more information, use this link
http://explore.t-mobile.com/callprotection

For landlines as well as smartphones there are a number of apps such as Nomorobo, Truecaller, Hiya, RoboKiller and YouMail that offer robocall blocking for free or for small monthly charges. Here is a link to those apps. I have used Nomorobo for years and find it to be tremendously useful

https://www.nomorobo.com/
https://www.truecaller.com/
https://hiya.com/
https://www.robokiller.com/
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.youmail.android.vvm&hl=en_US

https://www.youmail.com/home/apps

Finally, you can just choose to ignore any calls that come from numbers you do not recognize.   This is a good option.  If they are legitimate calls, they will leave a message and you can call them back.

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Scam of the day – August 15, 2019 – LinkedIn Phishing and Job Scams

LinkedIn is a popular social media website used by business professionals to network with other professionals.  According to LinkedIn, it has more than 500 million users.  LinkedIn is used by these people to get ideas, explore opportunities and even to list job postings.  Anything with 500 million members is attractive to scam artists so it is not surprising that scammers attempt to use LinkedIn as a basis for many scams and identity theft schemes.  A recent report from KnowBe4 a security training company found that 56% of the most common phishing and spear phishing emails purport to come from LinkedIn.  Using phony phishing and spear phishing emails that appear to come from popular social media companies have increased 75% already this year.  These phishing and spear phishing emails lure you into trusting them and into either supplying them with personal information that is used to make you a victim of identity theft or entice you into clicking on a malware infected link that may infect your computer, phone or other device with various strains of malware such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can lead to identity theft.  The most common themes in LinkedIn phishing emails involve password reset emails and phony log-in alerts.  Other scams connected to LinkedIn  involve phony job listings. Security software company Symantec  issued a warning about an increase of LinkedIn job scams.   Symantec identified a common pattern found in many of these phony job listings on  LinkedIn.  The pattern includes fake accounts set up by the scammers posing as recruiters for nonexistent businesses.  They also often use photographs of women that they obtain from websites that provide images or copied from other online sources.  To make the ads seem more legitimate, they will  copy the exact wording of real advertisements appearing elsewhere.   What makes this scam particularly dangerous is that real recruiters use LinkedIn to contact prospective job recruits.  While some of the older job scams would ask for money from their victims to pay for credit checks or other administrative costs, the newer scams seem primarily to be done with a goal of gaining information, such as email addresses and other information about the people targeted and the companies where they work in order to facilitate directed spear phishing used to lure employees to unwittingly download malware into their companies’ computers.

TIPS

There are a number of indications that phishing emails that purport to be from LinkedIn are bogus. Often the email address from which it is sent has nothing to do with LinkedIn, but most likely was from a hacked email account that is a part of a botnet of computers controlled remotely by the scammer.  In addition, they also often use the generic greeting “Dear LinkedIn User,” unlike the real LInkedIn which would specifically direct the email to you by your name. Another indication of phishing emails is often poor grammar.   English is often not the primary language of many scammers based around the world and it shows in their grammar.

As with all phishing emails, two things can happen if you click on the links provided.  Either you will be sent to a legitimate looking, but phony webpage where you will be prompted to input personal information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft or, even worse, merely by clicking on the link, you will download keystroke logging malware that will steal all of your personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  If you receive an email that asks for personal information or instructs you to click on a link and you think it may possibly be legitimate, merely call the company at a telephone number you know is accurate where you can confirm that it is a scam and make sure that you dial the telephone number correctly because scammers have been known to buy phone numbers that are just a digit off of the legitimate numbers for companies to trap you if you make a mistake in dialing the real number.

Although LinkedIn and other websites that carry job postings try to identify and either prevent or remove phony ads from appearing on their websites, you cannot depend on these companies to fully protect you.  Certainly a little skepticism helps when you see a job posting for a job that sounds too good to be true.  Ads that ask for you to pay upfront costs for any reason should be considered to be a scam.

To check on the legitimacy of photographs in these ads you can do a reverse image search using Google or websites such as tineye.com.  You can also check to see if the wording of the advertisement has been used elsewhere by merely copying a substantial amount of the text into your search engine and see what comes up.  Finally, research the company itself to determine if it is a legitimate company.  You can’t be too careful before providing someone with personal information.

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Scam of the day – August 14, 2019 – Combined Gift Card and Counterfeit Check Scam

Today’s Scam of the day was prompted by a Scamicide reader who unfortunately lost more than a thousand dollars to a scam that combined a common gift card scam with a counterfeit check scam.  The Scamicide reader who unselfishly contacted me to alert others to this scam, went on to the website Rover.com which is a legitimate website where pet owners can find dog boarding, house sitting, dog walking and other pet related services.  The Scamicide reader was contacted by the scammer posing as a dog owner who claimed he was moving to the area where the Scamicide reader lived and he needed someone to perform errands related to the dog he would be bringing with him when he moved.    The scammer sent a check for $2,000 to the Scamicide reader to cover the costs and also the fees for the Scamicide reader.  He next asked if the Scamicide reader would purchase some Amazon gift cards and provide him with the card numbers.  The scammer said he needed the Amazon gift cards to buy fish and fish tanks.  Of course the check sent to the Scamicide reader was counterfeit and bounced, leaving the Scamicide reader losing his own money he used to buy the gift cards.

One reason that gift cards are favored by scammers is that they are easy to obtain at many stores and all that the scammer needs in order to access the funds deposited into the card is the sixteen digit code on the back of the card which can be given to the scammer over the phone. In this particular scam, there would be no reason the scammer couldn’t purchase his own gift cards.

TIPS

Gift card scams are easy to spot.   Payments for products, services, IRS payments or even to help that needy grandchild in a foreign country who has gotten into some trouble are never legitimately done through gift cards so anytime that someone requires payment in this fashion for anything, you can be sure it is a scam. 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.

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.

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Scam of the day – August 13, 2019 – Scammers Settle FTC Student Debt Relief Scam Charges

It was just a little over a month ago, in the July 4, 2019 Scam of the day that I told you about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settling its claims with Tuan Duong  who swindled  his victims out of more than eleven million dollars through his California based company by falsely promising to reduce or even eliminate student loan payments.  He also charged illegal upfront fees for his purported debt relief services.  Under the terms of the settlement, Duong, a repeat offender, is banned from participating in debt relief services and must pay the FTC $11,000,215.25  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. Now the FTC has announced that it has settled with two other defendants involved in the scam with Duong.  One of the defendants, Brenda Avitia-Pena has been order to pay 11 million dollars as a condition of the settlement.  Ms. Avitia-Pena perpetrated her student loan scams through her company, Impetus Enterprise, Inc.

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 various student loan 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.  Another student loan scam involves promises related to consolidating student loans.  Often the scammers represent that they are associated with the U.S. Department of Education although the Department of Education does not associate with private lenders in regard to student loan consolidation.  These scammers also charge significant fees for their student loan consolidation services when the truth is that there is no fee for legitimate student loan consolidation.  It is also important to remember that consolidating your student loans does not lower your interest or monthly payment.  Instead, after loan consolidation the student’s monthly payment is equal to a weighted average of the interest rates on the student’s current loans.

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.  You can also look into student loan refinancing rather than consolidating the loans.  Refinancing student loans can result in a lower interest rate.  Here is a link to a calculator that can help you determine whether you will save more by consolidating or refinancing student loans.https://www.makelemonade.co/calculators/student-loan-consolidation-refinancing-calculator/

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 www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – August 12, 2019 – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Scam

It has been more than a year since I first warned you about scams related to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but after receiving an email from a Scamicide reader telling me his story about almost becoming a victim of this particular scam, I decided that it was a good time to remind you all about this scam.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a well-known, legitimate charity founded by Microsoft creator Bill Gates and his wife. It does not give random grants to people, however since 2015 a scam based on that premise has been victimizing people. Sometimes potential victims of this scam are targeted through emails.  Other times, such as in the case of the Scamicide reader it was through a Facebook message.  Below is a copy of an email that has been used to perpetrate this scam.. As with many similar scams, when someone responds to the email they are told that they need to pay a fee in order to receive their prize. One recent victim paid $11,000 to the scammers before she realized that it was a scam.  The Scamicide reader was told that through the scam he was told he had to pay a delivery charge of approximately $625.

“DONATION
When Tuesday, 06 February 2018
04:30 AM to 05:30 AM
(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time – Dublin / Edinburgh / Lisbon / London
WhereWrite to my private email **********************@gmail.com
Message Welcome to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), also known as the Gates Foundation, is a private foundation founded by me, I, Bill Gates and my wife Melinda Gates have decided to donate $1,400,000.00 to randomly selected individuals worldwide from the funds we Mapped out to help people and you are among the lucky individual, i saw your profile on Microsoft email owners list and i picked you, Kindly get back to me at your earliest convenience, so I know your email address is valid. Thanks Bill Gates”

TIPS

Lottery and sweepstakes scams continue to snare people because too many of us get blinded by our own greed to remember that while it is difficult to win any lottery, it is impossible to win one that you have never entered.  Further, no legitimate lottery ever will ask you to pay anything to claim your prize.  While income taxes are owed on lottery winnings, those taxes are either deducted from your prize before you receive your prize as with state sponsored lotteries or you receive the entire prize and are responsible on your own for paying the income taxes on your winnings.  No legitimate lottery or sweepstakes ever collects income tax payments from lottery winners.

Another telltale indication that this is a scam is the poor grammar used in the email, which often is an indication that the scam is originating in a country where English is not the primary language.
The real Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a page on their website where they warn you about the various scams linked to their foundation. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/media-center/press-releases/2012/11/reporting-email-scams  It should be noted that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation does not give grants to individuals, does not give grants that have not been applied for and do not charge any fees.

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 www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – August 11, 2019 – StockX Data Breach

Once again we have an announcement of a major data breach.  This time it is StockX, which is an online seller of sneakers, streetwear, handbags and luxury watches. StockX has just announced that it suffered a data breach in which personal information of 6.8 million of its users including customer names, email addresses, shipping addresses, usernames, hashed passwords, and purchase histories were compromised.

Many of us are suffering from what is being called “data breach fatigue” as a result of which we may not tend to take seriously the threat that data breaches present.  While in this case, the data breach which goes back to May did not include credit card information or Social Security numbers, it is still significant.  In response to the data breach, StockX is offering twelve months of free fraud protection services.

TIPS

If you have been a customer of StockX, you should use this link to go to its website to learn more details about the data breach as well as to enroll in the free services being offered.  https://stockx.com/news/update-on-data-security-issue/

Everyone else should consider this data breach as an opportunity to consider how protected you are from future data breaches.

If you have not yet frozen your credit with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, you should do so now to protect yourself from possible identity theft. it is free and easy to do.

To get the maximum protection from identity theft, it is important to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Here are links to each of them with instructions about how to get a credit freeze:
https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

One of the biggest lessons from the myriad of data breaches is to make sure that you use unique passwords for every online account that you have in order to avoid having a sensitive account, such as your online banking account compromised because you use the same password as you do for another relatively meaningless account that had poor security which led to a data breach in which your password was stolen.

Creating and remembering strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts is not as difficult as it may appear.  You can start with a strong base password constructed from a phrase, such as IDon’tLikePasswords. Add a few symbols like !!! and then adapt it for each account you have so that you will have a secure and easy to remember password for each of your online accounts.   Thus, your Amazon password could be IDon’tLikePasswords!!!AMA.

Also, with your email address commonly known by many scammers, you can expect to receive more phishing and more dangerous specifically targeted spear phishing emails that attempt to lure you into clicking on links containing malware or try to convince you to provide personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Never click on links or provide personal information in response to an email or text message unless you are absolutely sure that the email or text message is legitimate.

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 www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – August 10, 2019 – Facebook Libra Cryptocurrency Scam

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin are becoming more and more popular.  Recently, Facebook announced that it was going to create its own cryptocurrency which it calls Libra and already in the days following the announcement, scams related to Libra are turning up ironically on Facebook where there are many accounts pages and groups created by scammers offering to sell you Libra cryptocurrency at a discount, making it appear to be a very good investment.  The actual launch of Libra is not scheduled until next year, but the scam accounts and pages offering to sell you Libra cryptocurrency at a discount can appear to be legitimate.  Often they carry the Facebook logo, official LIbra marketing images and photos of Mark Zukerberg, however, none of that changes the fact that these sites offering to sell you Libra cryptocurrency are scams.

Last May,the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)  issued a new warning to investors about cryptocurrency related scams including  investments in confusing cryptocurrency advisory and trading systems as well as cryptocurrency mining farms.  Quite often these scams promise high guaranteed returns with little or no risk such as reflected in recent federal charges brought against two Nigerians accused of operating a fraudulent Bitcoin investment where they promised investors profits of as high as 50% without any risk or limitations.  Although cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, may seem to be new. I have been writing in Scamicide.com about cryptocurrency scams for four years. Cryptocurrencies are legitimate, but scammers are increasingly taking advantage of the public’s fascination with cryptocurrencies to take old forms of scams and update them with a cryptocurrency twist. The perception of many in the public is that cryptocurrencies offer an easy path to riches coupled with many people violating the cardinal rule of investing by investing in things that they do not understand creates a perfect storm for a wide variety of cryptocurrency scams.

According to the Wall Street Journal, federal regulators initiated 90 cryptocurrency fraud legal actions during the last two years and state regulators have filed an additional 70 cryptocurrency legal actions in just the last year. One of the biggest cases where both state and federal regulators have brought charges involves the company BitConnect which had a market value of 2.8 billion dollars before legal action was taken to put it out of business for violation of a number of state and federal regulations. Many investors were lured in by promises of profits of 120% annually. Promises of huge profits like this should always be a red flag to any investor.

A good example of what another type of cryptocurrency scam looks like can be found by going to this website touting HoweyCoins.

https://www.howeycoins.com/index.html

While HoweyCoins may appear to provide a lucrative investment opportunity, there is no such thing as HoweyCoins. It is a scam. Fortunately, it is a scam website that was set up by the Securities and Exchange Commission to serve as a warning to unwary investors about the dangers of cryptocurrency scams.

TIPS

As I have mentioned many times previously, you should never invest in anything that you do not fully understand.  Cryptocurrency scams quite often involve complicated language and investment terms that is purposefully unclear in an effort to confuse potential investors from understanding the real facts.  You also should not invest in anything without investigating the people offering the investments.  You can go to www.iinvestor.gov to learn about the licensing and registration status of someone offering to sell you investments.   In addition, as always, if the investment sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Facebook for a time banned all advertisements promoting cryptocurrencies due to the plethora of cryptocurrency scams, but has reversed this position and now does accept ads for cryptocurrencies. Some of the things to be on the lookout for in regard to cryptocurrency scams are promises of high, guaranteed returns on your investment, false claims of being SEC compliant, allowing you to invest using your credit card and pump and dump scams.   For more information about pump and dump scams related to cryptocurrencies, check out the Scam of the day for April 11, 2018.

As for Libra, no legitimate sales of Libra cryptocurrency are occurring at this time so any offer to sell you Libra cryptocurrency is a scam.

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 www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – August 9, 2019 – New Robocall Developments

Over the years I have written numerous times about the problems presented by robocalls and with good reason.  Automated robocalls which, for commercial purposes, are illegal, are the number one consumer complaint reported by the public to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at a cost to consumers of billions of dollars each year. The ease by which illegal robocalls may be made by computers accounts for much of the problem.  Americans received more 4.4 billion robocalls last month and while the problem here is bad, robocalls are a worldwide phenomenon with Spain, United Kingdom, Italy and France all receiving more robocalls than the United States.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a robocall summit to discuss with the major phone carriers what progress is being made in regard to the FCC’s new rule that allows cell phone carriers to automatically drop robocalls through the use of technology that is able to identify illegal robocalls and block them. This technology is called the SHAKEN/STIR standard. SHAKEN/STIR is an acronym for Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information using toKENs and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited.   The rule leaves it up to the mobile phone carriers as whether they will charge their customers for this service although the FCC has encouraged the carriers to provide these services at no cost.  SHAKEN/STIR technology will verify calls with a symbol on your phone indicating that the person calling you is legitimate and actually calling you from the number that appears on your screen.  While it doesn’t block robocalls, it does let you know if the call is legitimate or not so you can decide not to answer shady calls.  It is expected that the major phone carriers will have SHAKEN/STIR technology implemented by the end of 2019.

TIPS

While SHAKEN/STIR is important, it is not the only weapon against robocalls.  As I first reported to you in the May 16th Scam of the day,  Verizon has recently implemented new services to help its customers avoid illegal robocalls.  The new Call Filter service offers spam alerts and new protections from robocalls for its wireless customers.  Customers will receive alerts when a call is most likely a scam.  The new Call Filter service will also automatically block robocalls based of the customer’s preferred risk level.  The Call Filter service is offered in a free version and an enhanced version that among other things will enable customers to create a personal robocall block list.  For more information about the Call Filter Services and how to sign up go to https://www.verizonwireless.com/solutions-and-services/call-filter/

There are a number of other options for preventing robocalls including a number of apps that for free or a small fee will  reduce and in some instances prevent robocalls.
Samsung’s SmartCall informs you if the call you are receiving is from a known robocaller. This feature is available with newer Samsung Galaxy phones. Here is a link to information about SmartCall and instructions as to how to activate this app.
http://www.samsung.com/levant/apps/smart-call/

Google also has a spam blocker that will warn you when you are receiving a robocall and your screen will turn red. Here is a link to information about the app and how to install it.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.dialer&hl=en

AT&T also offers free apps to block robocalls on iPhones and Android phones. Here is a link to information about these apps.
https://www.att.com/features/security-apps.html?partner=LinkShare&siteId=TnL5HPStwNw-yrUS1uDw9WGvN._xt67yew&source=ECay0000000CEL00O

Verizon’s CallerName ID is a free service for iPhones and Android phones that will alert you to suspected robocallers. Here is a link to Verizon’s app.
https://www.verizonwireless.com/solutions-and-services/caller-name-id/

T-Mobile offers a free scam blocker of known robocallers for Android phones which you can activate by merely dialing #662#

Sprint offers a paid service to protect your iPhone or Android phone from robocalls. For more information, use this link
http://explore.t-mobile.com/callprotection

For landlines as well as smartphones there are a number of apps such as Nomorobo, Truecaller, Hiya, RoboKiller and YouMail that offer robocall blocking for free or for small monthly charges. Here is a link to those apps. I have used Nomorobo for years and find it to be tremendously useful

https://www.nomorobo.com/
https://www.truecaller.com/
https://hiya.com/
https://www.robokiller.com/
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.youmail.android.vvm&hl=en_US                                                                                                                                                                        https://www.youmail.com/home/apps

Finally, you can just choose to ignore any calls that come from numbers you do not recognize.   This is a good option.  If they are legitimate calls, they will leave a message and you can call them back.

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 www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

Scam of the day – August 8, 2019 – FTC Halts Telemarketing Scams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  in conjunction with the Attorney General of Ohio has initiated legal action against Medera Merchant Services, LLC and B&P Enterprises alleging that these companies generated and processed  Remotely Created Payment Orders (RCPOs) which are checks that enabled deceptive telemarketers to withdraw money from the bank accounts of their unwary victims.  The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rules specifically prohibit the use of RCPOs in telemarketing.  Among the telemarketing scams involved were student debt relief scams through American Financial Benefits Center and Impetus and credit card interest reduction schemes operated by Educare and Tripletel. The FTC alleges that these companies swindled unwary victims out of more than 13 million dollars through the fraudulent use of RCPOs.  I will keep you informed as to progress of this lawsuit and if any refunds will be issued in the future.

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.  You also should never share your FSA ID with anyone.

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.  You can also look into student loan refinancing rather than consolidating the loans.  Refinancing student loans can result in a lower interest rate.  For more information about student loans go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/1028-student-loans  Here is a link to a calculator that can help you determine whether you will save more by consolidating or refinancing student loans.https://www.makelemonade.co/calculators/student-loan-consolidation-refinancing-calculator/

It is important to remember that the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rules specifically prohibit charging advance fees before providing any debt relief services.  Any company that requires an advance fee before they have completed their successful debt reduction services is breaking the law.  You also may want to consider avoiding scams like this by enrolling in the federal Do Not Call List so that if you are contacted by a telemarketer, you already know it would be someone who is knowingly breaking the law and cannot be trusted.  Registering for the Do Not Call List is easy and free.  Merely go to www.donotcall.gov to register your phone number.

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/

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Scam of the day – August 7, 2019 – Hotel Credit Card Scam

Recently there have been reports about a “new” scam that I first warned you about in 2013.  It involves calls to hotel guests purportedly from a clerk at the front desk of the hotel informing you that the hotel needs your credit card information again because of a computer error in processing your card.  Unfortunately, people responding to this call by providing their credit card number end up providing their credit card number to the scammer who calls them and not to a clerk of the hotel.  Often these calls come early in the morning, when the scammer hopes to awaken someone who may not take the time to consider the legitimacy of the request.

TIPS

Whenever you get a telephone call, you can never be sure that the person calling you is who he or she represents himself or herself to be.  If you are in a hotel and receive such a call, you should hang up and either go to the front desk in person or call the front desk at a telephone number that you know is accurate.  Whenever you get a telephone call requesting personal information such as a credit card number for whatever reason, do not give the information to the caller.  Rather, call the company or agency that purported to call you at a number that you know is correct and not a number that the caller gives you.

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 www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”

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